Thursday, June 24, 2021

Avishkaar To Offer Curated Online Courses With Every Computing Devices Purchase On Flipkart


* A recent survey by Avishkaar revealed that 53% of the parent respondents use the hands-on learning approach in the form of toys and kits to keep up their children’s interest levels in next-gen tech & STEM subjects 

Avishkaar, a leading next-generation technology education provider, has joined hands with Flipkart, India’s homegrown e-commerce marketplace, to offer curated online courses along with the purchase of laptops and tablets to enhance students’ learning potential. As part of this, Avishkaar will be providing an Innovators Launchpad Course to enable children as young as 8 years to learn the basics of robotics, electronics, coding, and application development with expert trainers all for free. In addition, Flipkart customers will be able to avail Avishkaar Robotics and IoT Kits and  Microdegrees for children in an affordable manner. 

This collaboration is a part of Flipkart’s 3 month long Back to School campaign announced earlier in April and is aimed at enhancing the learning potential of students as digital learning takes precedence. A survey conducted by Avishkaar among 5,000 parents and 5,000 children  gauged the perception of parents of young children, as well as the children themselves on their career aspirations in STEM and next-generation technology fields. The survey revealed that 53% of the parent respondents use the hands-on learning approach to keep up their children’s interest levels in next-gen tech & STEM subjects. This includes toys and kits that help their children with application-based learning. 

This, along with the rise in digital learning due to the pandemic-induced lockdowns make it imperative for students to choose the right set of computing devices namely laptops and tablets to have an immersive learning experience.

Speaking on the association, Pooja Goyal, COO and Co-founder, Avishkaar said, “Flipkart's campaign is a great initiative to inspire children to master technology skills when lockdowns are forcing children to stay home. Avishkaar sets the gold standard for learning next-generation technology skills like Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, IoT, and coding and we are thrilled to partner with Flipkart to make it accessible for children across India. Also, with the right computing devices offered by Flipkart coupled with Avishkaar kits and courses, children will be able to better learn by building, breaking, and re-building chapters”. Speaking on the partnership, Rakesh Krishnan, Senior Director, Electronics at Flipkart said, “Flipkart has a nuanced understanding of customers’ evolving needs and is at the forefront of fulfilling their requirements with the best-in-class technological solutions. WIth digital learning taking precedence since last year, our partnership with Avishkaar will help students find their favourite online learning materials along with the right set of computing devices. Currently,  almost 40-45% of the demand for electronics for Flipkart comes from the student community and hence it becomes even more imperative to offer curated offerings to this customer cohort”. 

Flipkart has especially curated a page to help students in selecting the right computing and electronic items such as laptops, tablets, printers, audio devices and IT peripherals along with online learning materials depending on one’s primary use case. Avishkaar’s products can be found here: https://www.avishkaar.cc/shop/

Leading Tech Enterprise - HFCL To Set Up 2nd Model PM-WANI Village In Karnataka


* Project undertaken in collaboration with the Telecom Infra Project and i2e1 to power the Wi-Fi network in Baidebettu

Leading Indian Wi-Fi brand and one of the first TIP OpenWiFi compliant solutions provider, IO by HFCL, in collaboration with Telecom Infra Project (TIP), today announced setting up their 2nd PM-WANI powered connectivity for Baidebettu village in Karnataka. This PM-WANI network will provide high speed Wi-Fi Internet to over 9,000 residents of the otherwise poorly connected village located in Brahmavara Taluk, Udupi district.

The project entails setting up a robust outdoor Wi-Fi network for providing broadband Internet connectivity to the entire village population. The outdoor network will use HFCL IO’s TIP OpenWiFi-based Access Points, Point-to-Point radios, Solar Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices and other network equipment. The Wi-Fi network authentication and regulatory monitoring will be powered by i2e1 core solutions who will also act as the Public Data Office Aggregator (PDOA) under the PM-WANI model. The network is expected to go live by July 31, 2021.

The integrated package being deployed is indigenously developed and built in India for high performance, is fully secure and designed to withstand and perform under harsh weather conditions including heavy rainfall that the village receives throughout the year.

The network will offer Wi-Fi Internet with bandwidth of up to 500 Mbps in all common areas of the village that is spread across a radius of 6 kilometers. Due to its remote location under high rainfall zone, and absence of IT and Internet infrastructure, Baidebettu presently does not have any reliable connectivity. As a result, villagers earlier would travel many kilometers to nearby towns to get digitally connected. Recent Covid-19 restrictions further impacted this travel and have severely affected their lives.

With this deployment, the entire village of 9,000 population will come under the broadband fold, which is expected to significantly improve their quality of life by providing them access to digital services such as healthcare, education, banking, retail, entertainment, government digital services and many more. 

After the huge success of HFCL’s first PM-WANI model village deployment, which was set up three months ago in the small remote village of Baslambi in Haryana, HFCL intends to replicate the model and once again demonstrate the strength of the PM-WANI concept powered by TIP’s multi-vendor compatible OpenWiFi capabilities. HFCL believes that this will not only connect the residents of this remote village and offer them access to all digital services but also inspire other ISPs and solution providers to collaborate & innovate to address the two biggest challenges to rural connectivity - affordability and accessibility.

HFCL’s Promoter & Managing Director, Mr. Mahendra Nahata said, “We at HFCL are committed to transforming #InternetForAll into a ubiquitous reality and have successfully collaborated with leading core solution providers to strengthen the connectivity ecosystem. After great success of our first model PM-WANI village in North India, where we deployed our robust, scalable, interoperable, and TIP OpenWiFi based Access Points to provide broadband access, we are now replicating the model in a remote village in Southern India. With this initiative, we believe students in the village will no longer need to travel to get connected and this would pave the way for every villager to stay connected and explore infinite possibilities to grow in all areas of life. This further demonstrates our faith in PM-WANI scheme as a significant enabler in connecting the remotest parts of the country.”

TIP’s Chief Engineer David Hutton said: “We are glad to have HFCL as an active participant of the TIP OpenWiFi community. It is heartening to see HFCL’s enthusiasm and commitment to making multi-vendor Wi-Fi architecture a reality. HFCL’s “Built in India” disaggregated OpenWiFi solutions in conjunction with PM-WANI demonstrates early success in employing TIP OpenWiFi to address the digital divide.”

“We are pleased to associate with HFCL for yet another PM-WANI opportunity. It feels proud to be part of another HFCL’s “Connect the Unconnected” initiative using their TIP OpenWiFi compliant solutions. This further emphasizes HFCL’s commitment to make in India world class network equipment to connect the unconnected. This also demonstrates their faith in PM-WANI scheme as the key driver to provide broadband Internet access to all citizens of the country,” said Satyam Darmora, Founder & CEO, i2e1.

About HFCL Limited:

HFCL Limited (formerly Himachal Futuristic Communications Limited) is a leading technology enterprise engaged in manufacturing of high-end Transmission and Access Equipment, Optical Fiber, Optical Fiber Cables (OFC) and is specialized in setting up modern communication network for Telecom Service Providers, Railways, Defense, Smart City and Surveillance projects.

The Company has state-of-the-art Optical Fiber and Optical Fiber Cable manufacturing facilities at Hyderabad, Optical Fiber Cable manufacturing plant in Goa and in its subsidiary i.e. HTL Limited at Chennai along with FRP Rod manufacturing facility in its subsidiary at Hosur. It also has a telecom equipment manufacturing facility at Solan.

The Company’s in-house Centre for Excellence in Research located at Gurgaon & Bengaluru along with invested R&D Houses and other collaborators at different locations in India and abroad, innovate futuristic range of technology products and solutions. Some of the newly developed products through in-house R&D are Wi-Fi Systems, Unlicensed Band Radios, Switches, Electronic Fuses, Cloud Management Systems and Video Management Systems. There is a suite of products under development, which include Electro optic devices, Software Defined Radios, Routers, PON, Small cell for 5G, Intelligent Antenna Systems and Ground Surveillance Radars among others.

About i2e1:

i2e1 is India's first PM-WANI compliant Wi-Fi company. They harness the power of cloud to create a data platform over software defined networks using Wi-Fi.  Incubated at IIT Delhi, the company has been set up by a team of IIT /IIM graduates with extensive experience in data analytics and marketing. Visit www.i2e1.com for more information.

About the Telecom Infra Project

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is a global community of companies and organizations that are driving infrastructure solutions to advance global connectivity. Half of the world’s population is still not connected to the internet, and for those who are, connectivity is often insufficient. This limits access to the multitude of consumer and commercial benefits provided by the internet, thereby impacting GDP growth globally. However, a lack of flexibility in the current solutions - exacerbated by a limited choice in technology providers - makes it challenging for operators to efficiently build and upgrade networks. Founded in 2016, TIP is a community of diverse members that includes hundreds of companies - from service providers and technology partners, to systems integrators and other connectivity stakeholders. We are working together to develop, test and deploy open, disaggregated, and standards-based solutions that deliver the high quality connectivity that the world needs - now and in the decades to come. 

Third Edition Of Delivery Delight Index Launched By RedSeer And Shadowfax


* Increasing demand for express deliveries, higher willingness to pay for express delivery in ePharma 

* Players reliant on Third Party Logistics Partners are able to provide Impeccable Delivery Experience

According to the third edition of Delivery Delight Index (DDI#3) launched by RedSeer and Shadowfax, in 2021, digitally native brands (DNB) and vertical market players have emerged as the key champions on the back of improved delivery experience. 

In CY20 direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands grew 3x faster than overall eCommerce in India. The major growth drivers for this segment include the sizable set of mature customers and an enabling infrastructure. 

The specialised players in the logistics players enabling last-mile delivery, warehouse and new-age logistics space are enabling these brands to deliver and help them grow at such a rapid pace.

Delivery Delight Index is a toolkit for brands and platforms that has been developed after ~10,000 consumer surveys covering 38 players across four types of platforms i.e., E-tailing Marketplaces, Hyperlocal Marketplaces, Digitally Native Brands and Traditional Brands/Retailers. 

Commenting on the launch of the report, Abhishek Bansal, co-founder of Shadowfax, said, “The index reinstates our belief that customer expectations are moving towards faster and faster deliveries today. On the other hand, brands who are investing behind speed and delivery delight for consumers are gaining market share and consequently emerging as leaders in the index.” 

Key Highlights from the ‘Delivery Delight Index’

- Improved performance of players across ‘Speed of Delivery’ and ‘Delivery Experience’ is attributed to- 

·         Complete unlock in the JFM’21 period leading to smooth flow of the supply chain

- DNB platforms have improved speed of delivery by

* Adoption of Micro-warehouse, in partnership with third party warehousing aggregators and started same day or next day delivery

* Leading DNB platforms have also implemented ‘Doorstep QC’ of products leading to a  reduced refund time

Key frontrunners of the  ‘Delivery Delight Index’

E-tailing Marketplaces- Amazon, Firstcry, Myntra, Nykaa, Purple

Hyperlocal Marketplaces- Dunzo, Flipkart Supermart, Swiggy

Traditional Brands/Retailer- Lifestyle

Digitally Native Brands- Mi, Mamaearth, Wow, Bewakoof, Boat

On the launch of the third edition of delivery index, Anil Kumar, founder and CEO of RedSeer, said, “The study has shown that  despite the phenomenal growth of the D2C brands in recent times, these brands have been able to provide a superlative delivery experience with the support of third-party logistics players. Further, the specialised players in the warehousing and logistics space are enabling these new-age brands to fulfill the growing demand with a quality experience.”

About Shadowfax: Shadowfax, one of India’s largest crowdsourced logistics platforms, was established in 2015 with the vision of enabling commerce by empowering everyone, everywhere. Our unique tech-driven platform caters to the logistics needs of brands across verticals such as food, grocery, pharma, and e-commerce by providing a comprehensive, speedy and reliable solution right from first mile movement to doorstep delivery. On a mission to build the fastest and most reliable logistics network by empowering a million micro-entrepreneurs through technology to deliver anything, anywhere, our plug-and-play yet immersive APIs seamlessly bridge the logistical gap between businesses and their customers within minutes. Having raised $100Mn till date from marquee investors, the company currently services 500+ cities, covers 7000+ pin codes, 150K+ delivery network partners, and delivers 500K+ orders per day.

About RedSeer: RedSeer is a leader in the Internet and new age advisory. In 2020, RedSeer also emerged as the No 1 Deal Advisor to Private Equity. Our advisory is differentiated through our high-quality IP, market insights, and research, which helps both corporate and funds make the right choices. With more than 200 consultants across 5 offices, we have emerged as the largest home-grown regional consulting firm in the last 12 years.

NSDC and WhatsApp Launch “Digital Skill Champions Program” To Fuel Skill Development And Entrepreneurship Opportunities For Youth


* The alliance aims to support Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision to make India the Skill Capital of the World

The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and WhatsApp today announced an alliance to launch the Digital Skill Champions Program that aims to train India’s youth on digital skills, in order to make them employment ready. Through this program, school and university students would be coached to imbibe digital and online skills that would culminate with WhatsApp and NSDC awarding ‘Digital Skill Champions’ certification. The course is based on a module-format, is comprehensive and intensive in imparting knowledge about important aspects of the online ecosystem, equipping students with technology-based learning on campuses across tier 3 and 4 towns and cities throughout the country.

The partnership identifies two broad areas of collaboration viz., WhatsApp Digital Skills Academy and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) and WhatsApp Business App Training sessions.

WhatsApp Digital Skills Academy: As part of the Digital Skill Academies, young adults from tier 3 and 4 cities will be trained on critical aspects of digital safety and online privacy. These digital academies will deliver safe technology-based learning among the youth and train them on taking charge of their safety online as they embark on their professional journeys. The initiative will kick off with a pilot across 50 campuses in five states, namely Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The program will be imparted through WhatsApp’s project implementation partner- InfiSpark.

PMKK and WhatsApp Business App Training: WhatsApp will conduct training sessions to familiarise   Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra trainers with the WhatsApp Business app. The training will cover modules on leveraging benefits of the WhatsApp Business app and to make small business entrepreneurship aspirational for young skill seekers. The trained PMKK community cadres will further manage and administer the WhatsApp Business app training to youth aspiring to become small business entrepreneurs. 

Announcing the program, Dr. Manish Kumar, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) said, “In a rapidly evolving digital world, NSDC aims to extend scope of virtual learning for youth across India.  It aims to empower youth with new-age skills to make them employable and more productive in their work environment.”

Talking about the partnership, Mr. Shivanth Thukral, Director - Public Policy, WhatsApp- India said, “We are honoured to be a part of NSDC’s mission to skill India and to take shop floor readiness training to the last mile. As India embraces digital innovation and entrepreneurship, it is imperative that the youth today are made aware of and educated about how they can upskill themselves and take charge of their presence online. At WhatsApp, we believe that  online safety and privacy are vital drivers to a progressive digital society. Through this partnership, we are committed to enhance the digital skills of the aspiring entrepreneurs and empower the youth of our country to create a safe digital environment for all.”

About National Skill Development Corporation

National Skill Development Corporation, working under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, is a unique public-private-partnership that aims to catalyze the creation of a quality vocational training ecosystem in India. Since its inception in 2010, NSDC has trained more than 2.5 crore people through its partnership with 600+ training partners, 11,000+ training centers spread over 600+ districts across the country. NSDC has established 36 Sector Skill Councils and is implementing Government’s flagship skill development schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK), National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS), among others.

About WhatsApp

With 15 million monthly users of the business app in India, and more than 50 million globally, businesses are finding tremendous value through WhatsApp. WhatsApp has played an instrumental role in helping small businesses interact with their customers and optimize sales especially now at the difficult time of the pandemic, when digital tools continue to serve as a lifeline for businesses and customers to stay connected. This association is another meaningful step towards WhatsApp’s commitment of driving digital and financial inclusion in India.

The Science Of Lung-Gut-Brain Axis In Fighting COVID-19 Across India


By: Ajoy Prabhu

Co-Founder & CTO, Circee Health Pvt. Ltd., DCA, MS (Pathology), MBA

(Ajoy is a medical scientist, innovator, and a serial entrepreneur)

COVID-19 has, rightfully so, brought a lot of attention to the health of our lungs. We are thinking of increasing - even if not practising regularly -  pranayam, yog, neti. We are even taking in zinc and vitamin D to try and stave off any viral infections. It might surprise you to know that most of our immunity building doesn’t come from physically keeping the lungs moving, but taking care of what truly runs our entire body smoothly. Before you read on, try to guess what that could possibly be. 

Did you know that we humans are actually a bunch of human cells carefully being controlled by microbes that outnumber our own cells? For every 100 human cells we have within us, there are 130 microbial cells! Does that sound fantastic and outlandish? Wait! It gets even more ridiculous- human cells have about 20,000 genes, but the gut microbes in-total have about 20,000,000 genes! Tell me now, who controls whom?

First let me convince you that this (the fact that we are being controlled) is true, before talking about the health of our brain, and finally, our lungs. 

Consider a case reported in 2015 of a lady that had a major colon infection. No matter what her doctors tried, her infection just wouldn't go away. Decades before the infection, she was of normal weight. During the infection of course, she lost some weight. Finally as a last resort, the doctors suggested a fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). An FMT is exactly what it sounds like - the process involves taking feces from a donor (usually a close relative), scrubbing it of wastes, and depositing the rest (mostly microbes) in the recipient's colon. In this case, the donor was her sixteen year old daughter. In due course, the lady got better, but noticed something strange - she became overweight and even obese - just like her daughter was! The gut microbes were not only more effective at digesting and absorbing fat, they were perhaps even making her think about eating more often. There was no other change in her lifestyle other than the FMT. This is not an isolated case. Similar phenomena have been observed many times in cases following FMT. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that her daughter’s gut microbes were now responsible for the weight gain in both mother and daughter!

This is just one example (of weight gain), but there have been numerous documented cases of the gut bacteria changing the mood of individuals (in one case of even making the person suicidal!). The very same type of FMT has even shown to reduce type 2 diabetes in individuals.

Consider this - our gut harbors 99% of the bacteria in our body. Until recently, the thought was that we obtain our gut bacteria from the mother during childbirth. Recent evidence has emerged that this is not the case. We now know that much before birth, these bacteria (and other microorganisms) start their interaction with the human “host” (fetus) and “teach” the fetus their way of signalling. As they signal, we respond - way before birth. There is strong proof from the fact that prematurely born children have a disrupted “lesson” learned from these microbes. This can lead to many immunological issues including in the lung, in the form of allergies. This phenomenon has also been replicated in germ-free (GF) mice. They too suffer the consequences of diminished immunity towards infections, and even behavioral traits! 

It is now known that bacterial by-products that come in contact with the inner gut surface, stimulate special types of cells lining the gut (called the enteroendocrine cells) to produce several neuropeptides - small molecules that alter the brain function. Therefore, it follows that these neuropeptides control, in real-time, the brain’s reaction to the condition of the gut. If the gut is full and food is being digested, one set of signals are received by the brain, if not, then another set is received. For example a type of bacteria called Lactobacillus acidophilus stimulates brain receptors for opioids (opium-like compound), thereby reducing perception of pain in the gut. Other neuropeptides function to regulate blood flow into, and motility of, the gut lining. In fact, in a study of over 4,000 patients, scientists at the famous Cleveland Clinic showed that they can predict strokes in the brain a full 3 years ahead simply by looking at the production of a compound called TMSO, by certain gut microbes when the subjects digested meat. Until a few months ago, this was only thought to be a coincidence. A few months ago, the same scientists then re-created the phenomenon in mice and showed that increased TMSO causes strokes.

Think of the gut microbes as a well-manicured lawn. In that, densely growing grass does not allow other weeds to proliferate. However, when the make-up of gut microbes is altered significantly - such as when a person takes antibiotics - it is known as dysbiosis. This phenomenon turns the gut microbes and the brain to foes- they start to send wrong signals to each other, and an already disrupted lawn gets clogged with weeds - in this case, infection. To add to this, 90% of the main nerve that connects the gut to the brain (called the vagus nerve) goes towards the brain, not from it! What does that tell us? The nerve takes information (commands?) to the brain and not the other way around. Multiple sclerosis, a devastating autoimmune disease that leads to progressive deterioration of neurologic function, has been shown to be greatly  influenced by the gut microbiome.

Just as the gut alters the brain function, it does the same with many other organs. Of particular interest is its influence on the lungs. Lungs are by far one of the most vasculated organs in the body. By that, I mean there are literally hundreds of thousands of blood vessels that supply deoxygenated blood and remove oxygenated blood from the organ. As mentioned earlier, the gut bacteria is responsible for “teaching” the organs, particularly the lungs about keeping good house- compounds produced in the gut bacteria directly affect how the tissues within the lungs respond to inhaled foreign objects- be it a particle of soot, or a bacteria. It teaches the lungs exactly what types of cells and compounds (such as antibodies and antiviral compounds, called interferons)  to produce for defense, and when to do so. 

By far the strongest link that has been established between the lung and gut is by way of compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These are the main byproduct of the gut microbiota. Evidence suggests that SCFAs play a role in the control of infections both through direct action on microorganisms attempting to infect the lung, as well as in “teaching” the human cells and other aforementioned compounds how to kill or neutralize the attacking microorganism such as COVID-19.

The natural next question in your mind should be, about production of these SCFAs. These natural anti-COVID-19 compounds are best produced when complex carbohydrates and fibers are being digested (more accurately, fermented) in the gut by certain bacteria. The best “fertilizer” for these bacteria are vegetables, fruits and nuts. Bacterial digestion of plant-matter in the gut is like a booster shot of immunity to the body. Therefore it should come as no surprise that a 2021 study in the British Medical Journal of about 3,000 frontline healthcare workers documented that those that ate a whole food plant-based diet were 73% better protected from severe COVID-19 infection. This is even better than some of the anti-COVID-19 vaccines that are being marketed!

So, eat your vegetables, fruits and nuts to feed your gut bacteria. A healthy set of gut microbes will automatically lead to strong, immune-boosted lungs and a healthy brain!

McAfee Sees Ransomware-As-A-Service, Cryptocurrency And Internet Of Things Threats Surge In Q1 2021


Key Findings

* McAfee sees attackers shift from mass-spread campaigns to fewer, more lucrative targets

* Cryptocurrency coin miner malware increases 117% due to growth in 64-bit CoinMiner applications

* New Mirai malware variants drove increases in Internet of Things and Linux threats

* Overall newly detected malware threats averaged 688 per minute

McAfee Corp. (Nasdaq: MCFE), the device-to-cloud cybersecurity company, today released its McAfee Threats Report: June 2021, examining cybercriminal activity related to malware and the evolution of cyber threats in the first quarter of 2021. The quarter saw cyber adversaries shift from low-return, mass-spread ransomware campaigns toward fewer, customized Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) campaigns targeting larger, more lucrative organizations. A proliferation in 64-bit CoinMiner applications drove the growth of cryptocurrency-generating coin mining malware by 117%. Additionally, a surge in the growth of new Mirai-based malware variants drove increases in malware targeting Internet of Things (55%) and Linux (38%) systems.

“Criminals will always evolve their techniques to combine whatever tools enable them to best maximize their monetary gains with the minimum of complication and risk,” said Raj Samani, McAfee fellow and chief scientist. “We first saw them use ransomware to extract small payments from millions of individual victims. Today, we see Ransomware as a Service supporting many players in these illicit schemes holding organizations hostage and extorting massive sums for the criminals.”

Each quarter, McAfee assesses the state of the cyber threat landscape based on in-depth research, investigative analysis, and threat data gathered by the McAfee Global Threat Intelligence cloud from over a billion sensors across multiple threat vectors around the world.

Ransomware

Ransomware declined by 50% in Q1 due in part to a shift by attackers from broad campaigns attacking many targets with the same samples to campaigns attacking fewer, larger targets with unique samples. Campaigns using one type of ransomware to infect and extort payments from many victims are notoriously “noisy” in that hundreds of thousands of systems will, in time, begin to recognize and block these attacks. By allowing attackers to launch unique attacks, RaaS affiliate networks are allowing adversaries to minimize the risk of detection by large organizations’ cyber defenses and then paralyze and extort them for large ransomware payments. This shift is reflected by the decline in prominent ransomware family types from 19 in January 2021 to 9 in March 2021. 

Despite the high profile attacks from the DarkSide RaaS group exposed in Q2 2021, REvil was the most detected in Q1, followed by the RansomeXX, Ryuk, NetWalker, Thanos, MountLocker, WastedLocker, Conti, Maze and Babuk strains.

Coin Miner Malware

While prominent ransomware attacks have focused attention on how criminals use ransomware to monetize their crimes with payments in cryptocurrency, a first quarter 117% surge in the spread of cryptocurrency-generating coin mining malware can be attributed to a sharp spike in 64-bit CoinMiner applications.

Rather than locking up victims’ systems and holding them hostage until cryptocurrency payments are made, Coin Miner malware infects compromised systems and silently produces cryptocurrency using those systems’ computing capacity for the criminals that designed and launched such campaigns. The advantage to cybercriminals is that there is zero interaction required of both the perpetrator and the victim. While the victim’s computers may operate slower than usual due the coin miner’s workload, victims may never become aware that their system is creating monetary value for criminals. 

“The takeaway from the ransomware and coin miner trends shouldn’t be that we need to restrict or even outlaw the use of cryptocurrencies,” Samani continued. “If we have learned anything from the history of cybercrime, criminals counter defenders’ efforts by simply improving their tools and techniques, sidestepping government restrictions, and always being steps ahead of defenders in doing so. If there are efforts to restrict cryptocurrencies, perpetrators will develop new methods to monetize their crimes, and they only need to be a couple steps ahead of governments to continue to profit.”

Threats & Victims

Overall Malware Threats. The first quarter of 2021 saw the volume of new malware threats average 688 threats per minute, an increase of 40 threats per minute over Q4 2020.

IoT & Linux Devices. A variety of new Mirai malware variants drove increases on the Internet of Things (IoT) and Linux malware categories in Q1. The Moobot family (a Mirai variant) was observed to be mass-spread and accounted for multiple Mirai variants. These variants all exploit vulnerabilities in IoT devices like DVRs, webcams and internet routers. Once exploited, the malware is hidden on the system, downloads later stages of the malware and connects with the command-and-control server (C2). When the compromised IoT devices are connected to their botnet, they can be commandeered to participate in DDoS attacks.

Industry Sectors. McAfee tracked a 54% increase in publicly reported cyber incidents targeting the technology sector during the first quarter of 2021. The Education and Financial/Insurance sectors followed with 46% and 41% increases respectively, whereas reported incidents in Wholesale/Retail and Public Sector declined by 76% and 39% respectively.

Regions. These incidents surged in 54% in Asia and 43% in Europe, but declined 13% in North America. While reported incidents actually declined 14% in the United States, these incidents grew 84% in France and 19% in the United Kingdom.

Acronis Fortifies Its Presence In India; Launches First Cloud Data Center In The Country


* Brings greater faster access and data flexibility for service provider clients across India – along with comprehensive cyber protection solutions

Acronis, a global leader in cyber protection, today announced the availability of a new Acronis Cloud Data Center in Mumbai, launched jointly with local partners – Compuage India, Ingram Micro and Crayon Software Experts India. As one of the 111 new data centers being deployed by the company globally, it gives service providers access to a full range of cyber protection solutions upon which they can build new services while delivering faster access, constant data availability, and data sovereignty to their clients.

With news about cyber-attacks appearing weekly, despite the prevailing pandemic concerns, cyber protection has simply never been in higher demand, with data compliancy among the top priorities for companies in India.

Rustom Hiramaneck, Acronis General Manager in South Asia, said, “Having a local Acronis Cloud Data Center was extremely important to our partners in India – and we are proud to collaborate with companies that remain focused on delivering best data security and business continuity solutions to their clients. With one less thing to worry about, they now know their clients’ data is locally backed by a global partner who is on standby 24x7 – ready to resolve any issues.”

All Acronis Cloud Data Centers are designed to meet and exceed corporate and regulatory requirements. The initiative includes global management for all data centers, geographic redundancy, control for local partners, and a local disaster recovery site – all with competitive pricing. As a result, service providers have no trouble meeting the ever-changing compliance, data sovereignty, and performance requirements.

“With more businesses moving to the cloud, the demand for local data centres in India has shot up in recent years. Cyber protection is critical nowadays, and Acronis is by far the leading expert in this area. It was a no brainer for us to leverage this opportunity – it will be a win-win situation for both our partners and end customers, given the overwhelming interest in cloud,” says Bhavesh Mehta, Compuage Director & COO.

The global network of Acronis Cloud Data Centers already includes locations in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Switzerland, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Bhutan, South Korea and Singapore. With the new data center in India, local service providers now have a location within the country where they can store business-critical data for their clients. Managed service providers (MSPs) will also benefit from the full range of managed cloud solutions and cyber protection solutions available via the Acronis Cyber Cloud platform.

“The reality in knowing where your corporate data resides and ensuring it remains secure has become a necessity in a global partner community – and having your data stored locally provides complete data control both to you and your clients. The investment by Acronis in a new cloud data center guarantees just that,” says Vikas Bhonsle, CEO of Crayon Software Experts India.

Among the solutions now available through the new data center is Acronis Cyber Protect, a unique integration of backup, disaster recovery, next-gen antimalware, cybersecurity, and endpoint management tools – all managed via a single pane of glass. The solution is VB100 certified and its unique capabilities earned Acronis Cyber Protect the 2020 New Product Innovation Award for Data Protection from Frost & Sullivan.

All of Acronis solutions are designed to address the Five Vectors of Cyber Protection, ensuring the safety, accessibility, privacy, authenticity, and security (SAPAS) of an organisation’s data, applications, and systems. In the same way, Acronis Cloud Data Centers are designed to deliver the highest levels of data availability, security, and safety – with each facility featuring state-of-the-art equipment as well as the best operational and security controls.

India-based service providers interested in learning more about the advantages and opportunities of cyber protection solutions available through the Acronis Cyber Cloud platform are encouraged to visit https://www.acronis.com/en-us/cloud/service-provider/platform or contact us at marketing-RM-APAC@acronis.com.

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