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Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – May 16

1. What are malware? Discuss the problems crated by ‘WannaCry’ ransomware in the digital payments ecosystem and the ways to tackle the same.(GS 3)

The HIndu

Malware:-

  • Malware is an abbreviated term meaning “malicious software.”  This is software that is specifically designed to gain access or damage a computer without the knowledge of the owner.
  • There are various types of malware including spyware, keyloggers, true viruses, worms, or any type of malicious code that infiltrates a computer.
  • Generally software is considered malware based on the intent of the creator rather than its actual features.
  • Today, much of malware is created for profit through forced advertising (adware), stealing sensitive information (spyware), spreading email spam or child pornography (zombie computers), or to extort money (ransomware).

Problems created by WannaCry ransomware:-

  • The ransomware hit systems in over 100 countries, including Russia and the U.K., in one of the most widespread cyber attacks in history. It infected computers running on older versions of Microsoft operating systems like XP, locking access to files on the computer.
  • The cyber criminals have demanded a fee of about $300 in crypto-currencies like Bitcoin for unlocking the device.
  • In Spain, major companies including telecommunications firm Telefonica have been infected. The most disruptive attacks were reported in the UK, where hospitals and clinics were forced to turn away patients after losing access to computers.
  • was reported to have infected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries.
  • According to Cyber risk modeling firm Cyence, economic losses from the cyber attack could reach up to $4 billion.
  • Malware writers can exploit zero-day vulnerabilities through several different attack vectors.
  • Sometimes, when users visit rogue websites, malicious code on the site can exploit vulnerabilities in Web browsers.
  • Web browsers are a particular target for criminals because of their widespread distribution and usage.
  • Windows systems have the capability to automatically install updates, but in many corporate set ups, the auto-update is disabled to give IT departments more control over company machines. This left many machines vulnerable to the attack.
  • Vulnerabilities can be the result of improper computer or security configurations and programming errors. If left unaddressed, vulnerabilities create security holes that can be exploited by cybercriminals.
  • Hackers write code to target a specific security weakness and package it into exploit malware, a type malicious software that takes advantage of a vulnerability in order to compromise a computer system or cause an unintended behavior to occur on the software.
  • If your computer is infected, exploit malware can steal your data, allowing hackers to take unauthorized control of your computer, and even use the software in a way that was not originally intended
  • For the everyday computer user, a vulnerability can pose serious security risks because exploit malware can infect a computer through otherwise harmless web browsing activities, such as viewing a website, opening a compromised message, or playing infected media.

What can be done?

  • Establish personal online security best practices
  • Configure security settings for your operating system, internet browser and security software
  • Microsoft has introduced a security patch to tackle the situation, and consumers across the globe have been advised to download the solution at the earliest.

2. Discuss all issues faced by GM Mustard faced in India. What are the key hurdles in approving transgenic mustard for environmental release?(GS 3)

The Hindu

Introduction:-

  • GM Mustard has been in news recently due to huge uproar against its commercialization by many environmentalist and Health experts on the belief that it is likely to have negative affect on Health and environment.

Issues faced by GM mustard:-

  • Many groups suggest that farmers have committed suicide due to failure of Bt. Cotton crops.The same might be repeated here.
  • On the flip side in absence of Labelling of such Transgenic crop consumers right to make an informed decision will be affected.
  • Apprehension exists in general as for the first time a GM crop is being considered for Human consumption.
  • Failing to reveal all data related to bio safety in Public is hinting towards possibility of some negative unintended consequences.
  • Government needs to regulate GM firms to ensure proper standards are maintained and health of consumers is not jeopardized
  • Government also needs to facilitate and motivate innovation in new sectors.
  • Takes away autonomy of farmers who may have to resort to the companies for each subsequent harvest as there is issue of terminal gene in GM crops.
  • The GM crop is said to have 30% increased yield which will result in more profits for the farmer. This increase is though yet to be verified.
  • Thus farmers can get rid of weeds without damaging the mustard crop saving them the hassle of weeding. But the impact of this spraying on farmers is yet to be tested.
  • Less nutritional requirements and disease resistance is an important feature of gm crops. But there have been cases of development of superweeds which may impact productivity thus harming the farmer in the long run.
  • Successive governments have failed to move on the draft National Biotechnology Regulatory Bill, 2008 that would enable a biotechnology regulator to take shape.
  • Since there will be no separate labelling mechanism of GM mustard, consumer choice will be affected.
  • The long term health issues of GM crops remain untested.
  • has not been an open discussion with the general public regarding their views on GM crops thus denying their voice.

Key hurdles for environmental release are:-

  • Opponents of GM technology are opposed to the commercial release of any form of transgenic plants; they fear that introducing genes from soil bacterium or other forms of animal life into plants will amount to playing with the natural order of plant life.
  • The concern that GM mustard​ employs a gene that will compel farmers to use specific herbicides and be dependent on one or two companies deserves serious attention.

Way ahead:

  • In a current environment where climatic change would have negative effects on yield of many major crops which could seriously undermine food security, GM crops are the way forward.
  • However at the same time to convince the opponents of GM crops to allow commercialization of GM crops we need a strong regulatory framework.
  • What is therefore needed is an independent biotechnology regulatory authority, a single organization that will replace the multiple committees – at least six – that are part of the current regulatory structure. This authority would deal with the use of all GMOs in agriculture, pharmaceutical and biodiversity sector.

    3. “The interests of transparency in judiciary require that the appointments process not be shrouded in secrecy, which breeds nepotism and favouritism.” Comment.(GS 2)

Indian Express

Introduction:-

  • With Justice Karnan issue in limelight, the judicial appointment process andthe issue of judicial accountability to the forefront again.

Why judicial appointment process need to be transparent:-

  • The Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, falls short of prescribing a procedure to deal with errant judges.
    • The system of impeachment doesn’t work due to its onerous and political nature. In the absence of an effective law for judicial accountability, this problem will continue.
  • An ex-officio body of judges and government functionaries cannot do justice to the enormous task of screening and selecting judges to our highest courts.
  • To preserve the sanctity of the judiciary as an institution that will not compromise with its oath to protect the Constitution, nor allow itself to be prejudiced by popular sentiments, or surrender to intimidation.
  • The government and the judiciary have been going back and forth on the memorandum of procedure for appointments to the higher judiciary and neglecting the call for transparency by not even sharing a copy of the document with the people.
  • The collegium also did not lay down any criteria for appointments or any method for evaluating candidates on those criteria.
    • It also did not lay down any system for transparency in appointments.
    • Thus, appointments continued to be made in an arbitrary and nepotistic manner with the people not being informed about who was going to be appointed and on what basis.
  • The memorandum of procedure brought in by the government after SC struck down NJAC act is therefore stuck, with no agreement in sight between the government and the Chief Justice of India.

How can judicial appointment process be made transparent:-

  • There is need for a full-time body for appointments as well as for receiving complaints against judges. An ex-officio body of judges .
  • Only a full-time commission, independent of the government and the judiciary, can impart transparency and credibility to the system of appointments to the higher judiciary.
  • need a system where names of meritorious candidates are shortlisted and put out for the public to raise their objections and provide relevant information that the appointing authorities may not have about the proposed appointees.
  • Clearly-defined criteria for assessing the suitability of a judge would bring objectivity in the process.
  • Minimum transparency would require that the criteria for selection of judges be made known, the comparative evaluation of candidates also be made known, and names of shortlisted/selected candidates announced before appointment, so that those who have relevant information about the candidate can send it to the appointing authority.
  • Basic criteria to judge the competence of a candidate should include integrity, competence, judicial temperament, common sense and sensitivity towards the problems of the common man, among others.
  • A system modelled on the British Judicial Appointments Commission, which follows a method to evaluate candidates based on predetermined and set criteria, is well worth considering.

The road to securing judicial accountability is long and hard, but proper accountability for such a powerful and vital organ like the Indian judiciary is essential for the survival of the rule of law and democracy in this country. The time has come for the people of the country, who are the real stakeholders in an honestly functioning judiciary, to assert themselves and demand for such a body to be appointed and this scuffle over judicial appointments to be laid to rest.


 

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