New Israeli spyware targets journalists, politicians in 10 countries including UAE: Watchdog

News Network
April 12, 2023

Another Israeli spyware resembling the notorious Pegasus program has been used to target journalists and opposition politicians in 10 countries, according to a Canadian watchdog.

This was revealed by Microsoft and Citizen Lab, which studies the abuse of digital technologies, on Tuesday. 

The spy app has been developed by an Israeli firm called QuaDream which was established by a former Israeli military official. The firm is also linked to veterans who made Pegasus.

At least five people, still unidentified, have been targeted by QuaDream. Both Israeli spy apps have been sold to government agencies in North America, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. 

Citizen Lab identified servers in 10 countries that received data from victims' devices, including Israel, Singapore, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates and Bulgaria.

The Canadian watchdog said QuaDream has sold its spyware and services to government clients including Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Ghana, Indonesia and Morocco.

"Victims include journalists, political opposition figures, and an NGO worker," Citizen Lab said, saying it would not identify them at the moment.

The White House said in late March that Pegasus has been used by governments "to facilitate repression and enable human rights abuses."

Some of the countries deploying Pegasus have been accused of deploying it on peaceful domestic opposition.

World leaders, including French President Emanuel Macron, and top politicians and journalists are believed to have been targeted by Pegasus.

Pegasus is Israeli spyware that was designed and developed by Israel's NSO group and is used to break into mobile phones and spy on a large part of personal information including text messages, passwords, locations, and microphone and camera receivers.

The Israeli company marketed this technology as a tool to target its desired targets in the world.

Many European governments have used this controversial software to suppress dissidents, journalists, and political opponents around the world.

In Europe, some cyber detectives have found traces of the use of Pegasus or some other spyware in Poland, Hungary, Spain, and Greece.

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News Network
June 11,2024

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New Delhi: Indian universities and higher education institutions will now be allowed to offer admissions twice a year on lines of foreign universities with the University Grants Commission giving a go ahead to the plan, UGC chief Jagadesh Kumar said.

The two admission cycles will be July-August and January-February from the 2024-25 academic session.

"If Indian universities can offer admission twice a year, it will benefit many students such as those who missed admission to a university in the July-August session due to a delay in the announcement of board results, health issues, or personal reasons," Kumar said.

"Biannual university admissions will help students maintain motivation since they do not have to wait one full year to be admitted if they miss admission in the current cycle. With biannual admissions in place, industries can also do their campus recruitment twice a year, improving employment opportunities for the graduates," he added.

The UGC chief explained that biannual admissions will also enable the higher education institutes (HEIs) to plan their resource distribution, such as faculty, labs, classrooms and support services, more efficiently, resulting in a better functional flow within the university.

"Universities worldwide already follow a biannual admission system. If Indian HEIs adopt the biannual admission cycle, our HEIs can enhance their international collaborations and student exchanges. As a result, our global competitiveness will improve, and we will align with the global educational standards," Kumar said.

"If HEIs adopt biannual admissions, they need to work on administrative intricacies, good planning for increased use of available resources, and providing seamless support systems for the smooth transition of students admitted at dissimilar times of the year. HEIs can maximize the usefulness of biannual admissions only when they sufficiently prepare faculty members, staff and students for the transition," he added.

Kumar, however, clarified that it will not be mandatory to offer biannual admissions for universities and those HEIs that have the required infrastructure and teaching faculty can utilise the opportunity.

"Offering biannual admissions will not be mandatory for the HEIs, it is the flexibility that UGC provides to the HEIs which want to increase their student intake and offer new programmes in emerging areas. To be able to admit students twice a year, HEIs must make suitable amendments to their institutional regulations," he said. 

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News Network
June 7,2024

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Moscow: Four Indian medical students drowned in a river near St Petersburg in Russia and the Indian missions in the country were coordinating with Russian authorities to send their bodies to their relatives as soon as possible.

The four students—two boys and two girls aged 18-20—were studying at the nearby Novgorod State University in Veliky Novgorod city.

Local media reports said that a female Indian student, who waded out from the beach on the river Volkhov, got into trouble and four of her companions tried to save her.

In their attempt to save her, three others also drowned in the river.

A third boy was pulled to safety by local people.

"We are working to send the bodies to the relatives as soon as possible. Proper treatment is also being provided to the student whose life has been saved," the Embassy of India in Moscow said on X.

The Consulate General of India in St Petersburg said these students were pursuing medical education at Veliky Novgorod State University.

"Sincere condolences to the bereaved families," it posted on X.

The Consulate General said it was working together with the local authorities of Veliky Novgorod to send the mortal remains to the relatives as soon as possible.

"The bereaved families have been contacted and assured of all the possible help," it said.

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News Network
June 12,2024

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Shocking details have emerged from the probe into the murder of a man who allegedly made derogatory comments against the friend and co-star of leading Kannada actor Darshan Thoogudeepa.

According to police sources, Renukaswamy (33) drew the wrath of Darshan for making lewd comments against Pavithra Gowda on her social media posts.

"It was Pavithra who instigated Darshan to punish Renukaswamy. Accordingly, the plan was hatched," they said.

Renukaswamy hailed from Lakshmi Venkateshwara Layout in Chitradurga and worked with a pharmacy company.

"Darshan engaged the Chitradurga unit of Darshan Fan Club Convenor Raghavendra alias Raghu, who obtained all information about Renukaswamy." Renukaswamy's wife Sahana said Raghavendra picked up her husband on Friday night from near their house.

The victim was abducted and taken to a shed in Kamakshipalya area in Bengaluru, the sources said.

"Darshan beat up Renukaswamy with a belt. After he fell unconscious, his accomplices thrashed him with sticks. Further, they threw him against a wall, which proved fatal," they said adding there were multiple bone fractures all over his body.

After he died, his body was dumped in a stormwater drain.

A food delivery boy who noticed dogs eating a human body alerted the police.

When the police were working on the case, two accused approached Kamakshipalya police and "confessed" to having killed Renukaswamy over a financial dispute.

As the investigation progressed, police found out Darshan and Pavithra's involvement.

Darshan, his friend and film actress Pavithra Gowda, and 11 others were arrested in connection with Renukaswamy's murder on Tuesday.

The 47-year-old actor has been remanded to six days' police custody by a court. 

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