Cybersecurity Current Affairs - 2019

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Manipur man detects WhatsApp bug, enters Facebook Hall of Fame 2019

Zonel Sougaijam, a civil engineer from Manipur was included in Facebook Hall of Fame 2019, for detecting a WhatsApp bug that violated privacy of a user.

Key Highlights

  • Facebook, the social media giant honoured 22-year-old Mr. Sougaijam, by including him in Facebook Hall of Fame 2019 and also awarded $5000.
  • His name is currently at 16th position in a list of 94 people who are included in Facebook Hall of Fame for this year.
  • WhatsApp Bug: During a voice call via WhatsApp, the bug instilled used to allow caller to upgrade it to a video call even without the authorisation and knowledge of receiver. The WhatsApp caller was then able to see what other person on receiving end is doing, thus violating the privacy of receiver.
  • Sougaijam discovered this bug and reported the matter in March 2019 to Bug Bounty Program of Facebook, which deals with matters of violation privacy. The Facebook Security team acknowledged his report and its technical department fixed the bug within 15-20 days.
  • Facebook, the social media giant is owned by Mark Zuckerberg, who purchased WhatsApp messaging service in February 2014 for a staggerring $19 billion.

Russia President Putin signs “Sovereign Internet” law

Russian President Vladimir Putin on 2 May 2019  signed into law a “sovereign internet” bill which will allow Russian authorities to isolate the country’s internet. The move expands Government Control of Internet, is being publicly denounced by all rights groups in country.

Key Highlights

  • The text of the law was published on 1 May 2019 but it will not come into effect until November.
  • Russian lawmakers support the new law as deeming it necessary to ensure security of Russia’s online networks.
  • It includes measures such as to create technology to monitor internet routing, to steer Russian internet traffic away from foreign servers, allegedly to prevent a foreign country from shutting it down.
  • In March 2019, Putin signed another controversial law which allowed courts to fine and briefly jail people who showed disrespect towards authorities, and also block media for publishing “fake news”.
  • These laws are part of an ongoing Kremlin clampdown on media and internet freedoms in which people are jailed even for sharing humorous memes.
  • The move would also target largely Telegram (a popular messaging app) widely used by Russians.

Criticism

  • It is being criticized as a vaguely worded bill which gives new censorship powers to government monitors and is aimed at restricting information and communication online.
  • It will allow greater surveillance by Russian intelligence agencies, and increase ability of state authorities to control information.

Reason

The government defended the legislation as a defensive move in case the United States would cut Russia off from the global Internet. Also, Russia must ensure its networks security after US President Donald Trump unveiled a new American cybersecurity strategy in 2018 which accused Russia of carrying out cyber-attacks with impunity.