Finland trying to contain a malware attack spreading rapidly

Finland has reported text messages of unknown origin that are spreading malware. These messages have malicious links, and Telia Co AB, the country’s second-biggest telecommunications operator, has intercepted hundreds of thousands of these messages.

Teemu Makela, chief information security officer at Elisa Oyj, the largest telecoms operator, said that the malware attack is exceptional and very worrying, and quite a big amount of text messages are flying around.

Most of the messages claim that the recipient has received a voicemail, asking them to open a link. Upon opening the link, Android devices are asked to install an application called Flubot that contains the malware, while iPhones users are taken to other fraudulent material on the link. The National Cyber Security Centre has issued a “severe alert”.

The messages started beeping Finns’ mobiles late last week, and as per Telia fraud manager Antti Turunen, the campaign is worse than a similar instance that happened in summer. A mobile malware spread in Finland in June 2021 and persisted into August. Back then, messages written in Finnish were sent to thousands of people. The message said that there was a package in delivery and included a tracking link which redirected the user to install Flubot.

Singapore is building a third national supercomputer for Covid19

Singapore is all set to build its third national supercomputer to expand research in Covid-19 and other healthcare areas. The new supercomputer will train artificial intelligence to predict a patient’s future disease condition within hours. The past data of patients with specific diseases can be fed into the supercomputer to train the artificial intelligence.

This will help in finding out drug combinations for treating Covid-19, while also predicting Covid in a patient. The National Supercomputing Centre Singapore (NSCC) and National University Health System (NUHS) finalised an agreement on Friday (Dec 3) to build the third national supercomputer. It is estimated to be ready by the middle of next year and the government will fund $19 billion for the same. Given that the supercomputer will be located at NUHS, clinicians using it will not have to send the data for analysis to other supercomputers located elsewhere.

The country’s first supercomputer – known as Aspire 1, was set up in 2016, while the second, Aspire 2a, is expected to be functional by early next year.

The new supercomputer can be used to train other systems too. Artificial Intelligence helps a machine identify objects in common places, like a hospital corridor. Then there will be a chatbot that can have conversations with patients. All of this will be a major development in the healthcare sector.

Scientists in Hong Kong succeed in isolating Covid’s Omicron variant

Researchers at the Department of Microbiology at The University of Hong Kong have succeeded in isolating Covid’s new Omicron variant from clinical specimens. This will help in developing vaccines against Omicron, which is swiftly spreading in some countries. Studies are still trying to find out if the vaccines already available in the market can protect against the new variant.

Cases of the variant have been reported from Australia, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Britain, Israel, Netherlands and Hong Kong among other countries, and strict restrictions are being imposed again. So far, three cases of Omicron have been reported in Hong Kong, with the latest to be diagnosed being a 37-year-old man who returned to the country from Nigeria via Ethiopia and Thailand.

It is yet to be found out if Omicron leads to severe disease, but the World Health Organisation has called it ‘a variant of concern’. WHO has also reported that the chances of the variant spreading further globally is high. 

As per several reports, symptoms of the new variant include a scratchy throat and extreme tiredness. A drip in oxygen levels or loss of smell or taste has not been reported in any patient infected with Omicron.

India is proud of Parag Agarwal, Twitter’s new CEO who is of Indian origin

India, known for producing some of the world’s most well-known Chief Executive Officers, is celebrating the appointment of Parag Agarwal as Twitter’s new CEO. He succeeded Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, who stepped down from the position on Monday.

The 37-year-old joined Twitter in 2011, and was promoted to the post of Chief Technology Officer after a few years in 2017. A graduate of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai-born Agrawal has a PhD in computer science from Stanford University. Shortly after the announcement, Agrawal tweeted a note, saying he is excited for the future.

Indians, meanwhile, are celebrating his appointment on Twitter by recalling all Indian origin CEO’s that have made a name for themselves. Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, IBM’s Arvind Ksrishna and Adobe’s Shantanu Narayen are some of the examples.

Pichai was named CEO of Google in 2015, and later in 2019, he became the CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet. In February 2014, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella was named CEO of the Redmond, Washington-based company. In January last year, Arvind Krishna was named CEO of International Business Machines Corp. Indians have been climbing the corporate ladder in global companies for many years now.

US FDA Gave Clean-Chit to Moderna And J&J Covid-19 Booster Shots

On Wednesday, the United States Food and Drug Administration authorized the COVID-19 vaccine for booster doses of the Moderna Inc and Johnson & Johnson. They also said that Americans can choose a shot of their own choice for their original inoculation as a booster.

FDA CommissionerJanet Woodcock said in a statement, “The availability of these authorized boosters is important for continued protection against COVID-19 disease”. According to her, the data suggests the effectiveness of the vaccine may wane over time among some fully vaccinated people. This gives all three vaccines the liberty to give boosters to some groups in the United States.

This decision gave freedom to millions of people in the United States to get additional protection against the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. An advisory panel of the FDA voted in favor of the third round of shots of the Moderna vaccine for the same groups last week. The one-shot J&J vaccine recipients are also recommended by the panel to get a second shot of the one-dose inoculation after two months of receiving their first.

In August, the FDA and U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were under pressure to sanction the extra shots after the White House announced a booster campaign.

Three Scientists Won Nobel Prize in Physics for Climate Discoveries

On Tuesday, the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics was won by the scientists for their work that helps understand complex physical systems like Earth’s changing climate. The three scientists to grab the award are, Japanese-born American Syukuro Manabe, German Klaus Hasselmann, and Italian Giorgio Parisi.

The decision was hailed by the U.N. Manabe, 90, and Hasselmann, 89, are jointly awarded half of the prize of 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.15 million), a sign of consensus surrounding human-caused global warming. Parisi is credited with the other half for discovering the “hidden rules” behind seemingly random movements and swirls in liquids and gases that can be applied to aspects of neuroscience, machine learning, and the flight pattern of starlings in the early 1980s.

According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, “Giorgio Parisi is rewarded for his revolutionary contribution to the theory of disordered materials and random processes. Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselman laid the foundation of our knowledge of the Earth’s climate and how humans influence it”.

Scientist Hasselmann described this reward as a beautiful dream and does not wish to wake up from it.

Americans Julius and Patapoutian win 2021 the Nobel Prize in Medicine

On Monday, American scientists David Julius and Ardem Patapoutian won the 2021 Nobel Prize of Medicine for the discovery of receptors in the skin that sense temperature and touch. It can touch and could pave the way for new painkillers.

The Nobel Assembly at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute said that both of them individually carried out their work, which has helped them show how humans convert the physical impact from heat to touch into nerve impulses that allow us to “perceive and adapt to the world around us”. The journal further explained that this knowledge is being applied to create treatments for chronic pain and many other diseases.

Patapoutian who was born in 1967 to American parents said on his winning that in science many times it is the things they take for granted that are of high interest. He won more than the century-old prize that is worth 10 million Swedish crowns (1.12 million).

New York-born Julius is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco has previously worked at the Columbia University in New York. He said, “I think the work that we’re doing… will help to have a rational approach to developing those kinds of drugs”.

DRDO Successfully Tests flight Akash Prime Missile

On Monday, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully tested a new version of Akash Surface to Air missile Akash Prime that intercepted and destroyed an unnamed ariel target, mimicking an enemy aircraft in Odisha Chandipur.

Ashan Prime is equipped with an indigenous active RF (radio frequency) seeker for improved accuracy as compared to the existing Akash System. The new one also has few other improvements like more reliable performance under low-temperature environments at higher altitudes. For the current flight test, the modified ground system of the existing Akash weapon was used. Several range stations of the ITR monitored the missile trajectory and flight parameters, including radars, electro-optical tracking systems (EOTS), and telemetry stations.

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated that the success of the mission proves that the competence of DRDO’s design and development is world-class in the Missile system. Secretary of the Department of Defence R&D and Chairman of DRDO, G Sathessh Reddy congratulated the team on its success for the flight trial of the Akash Prime Missile. According to him the system will further boost the confidence of the Indian Army and Indian Air Force as the Akash System is already inducted and now being improved with more lethal missiles.

The US Announced alliance with Australia and Britain To Upgrade Nuclear-Powered Submarines

On Wednesday, in the face of growing rivalry with China, the United States announced a new alliance with Australia and Britain. To strengthen military capabilities the alliance will include a new Australian nuclear submarine fleet and cruise missiles.

The announcement of the alliance was made by US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and his British counterpart Boris Johnson in a video meeting. France, which is negotiating a multibillion-dollar deal for conventional submarines with Australia is also pushed back. Biden and other leaders stressed that the submarines will be powered with nuclear reactors and will not be nuclear-armed. According to Biden, allowing Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines, will lead to the most modern capabilities they need to maneuver and defend against rapidly evolving threats.

The official said that despite not carrying the nuclear weapon, the new submarine will allow the nation to “play at a much higher level”. At the time of signing the contract for the submarine with France, it was worth around Aus$50 billion. The overall deal is estimated to be AUS$90 billion after taking into account currency fluctuation and cost overruns. The contract got tangled in Australian domestic politics due to over budget and the company agreed to build 12 conventional Attack Class subs after the order was years behind schedule.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took to Earth’s Orbit with All-Civilian Crew

After Elon Musk visits space from SpaceX, the company sends its first all-civilian crew into Earth’s orbit. From Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceX Flacon 9 rocket carrying four space tourists blasted off on Wednesday night.

The launch was followed by a huge fireball illuminating the sky as the nine rocket engines began to pull away from the Earth at 8:02 pm (0002 GMT Thursday). Soon after the 11th minute the Dragon capsule separated from the rocket and sent stage as the crew entered orbit. In a vertical landing on a sea barge, the re-usable first stage made its way back to the Earth. For the first time, the Dragon capsule is equipped with a cupola observation dome, the largest space window ever for a better view. It was replaced by the usual mechanism used on Dragons to dock with the ISS.

The crew of four people, all Americans on a three-day trip will spin around Earth after which they will splash down off the Florida coast. The cost of the trip hasn’t been disclosed by the billionaire Elon Musk but the price tag runs into the tens of millions of dollars.