Current Affairs 24th April 2023 for UPSC Prelims Exam
Context: Recent reports have observed that the LockBit Ransomware is targeting Mac devices.
About LockBit Ransomware:
- LockBit is the first major ransomware that is specifically designed to target Apple computers. It can target both older Macs and newer ones running on Apple Silicon.
- LockBit was first detected in 2019 and has been dubbed the “abcd” virus, due to the file extension used when encrypting victim’s files. It is run by LockBit gang.
- It has been categorised as a “crypto virus” as its requests for payment in cryptocurrency to decrypt files.
- Target: The ransomware targets individuals who feel hindered enough by the disruption and can afford to pay heavy sums in exchange for access to the files.
- Modus Operandi:
- The ransomware uses social engineering tactics to impersonate trusted personnel or authorities to lure victims into sharing personal credentials.
- It sometimes uses brute force to gain access to the intranet server and network of an organisation.
- Once it enters a device, it does not need additional instructions. It hides executable encryption files by disguising them in the .png format. This protects it from system defences.
- After successful deployment, it releases its encryption payload in the device/ devices across the network. It also disables security programs that could allow data recovery.
- The ransomware then creates an encryption lock on all system files, which can only be unlocked using a custom key created by the LockBit gang.
- Victims have no option but to contact the LockBit gang and pay up for the data. The gang sells these data on the dark web regardless of the payment of ransom.
- Protection against such Ransomware:
- Using passwords containing strong variations of special characters which are not easy to guess along with multi-factor authentication can be implemented.
- Employees can be trained to identify phishing attacks and measures to avoid them.
- Unused and old accounts must be deactivated as they can become weak links in security.
- Regular cybersecurity audits must be conducted to identify threats and take steps to overcome them.
What is Ransomware?
- Ransomware is a type of malicious software that can infect a computer system by blocking access to the stored data by encrypting the files.
- The perpetrator then demands ransom from the owner in exchange for the decryption key.
Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023
Context: The Central Government has notified the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023 under Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 after superseding the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001.
Background: The issue of stray dogs in India
- India has more than 1.5 crore stray dog population.
- Over the last five years, more than 300 people — mostly children from poor and rural families — have been killed by dogs.
- Over 20,000 deaths were due to Rabies.
Major highlights of the Animal Birth Control Rules, 2023
- The new rules aim to reduce the stray dog population by addressing animal welfare issues.
- Animal Birth Control programme for the sterilization and immunization of stray dogs are to be carried out by the respective local bodies/municipalities/Municipal Corporations and Panchayats.
- Animal Birth Control Programme needs to be carried out by AWBI (Animal Welfare Board of India) recognized organization.
- The Municipal Corporations need to implement the ABC and Anti Rabies Program jointly.
- Also, the Cruelty involved for carrying out the ABC programme needs to be addressed.
- The Rules also provide guidelines on how to deal with the human and stray dog conflicts without relocating the dogs in an area.
Issues with the new rules:
- Homelessness: The rules do not address the issue of rehabilitating stray dogs, leaving them on the streets after sterilization and vaccination.
- Responsibility: The rules place the burden of caring for stray dogs on local residents’ welfare associations, which may lack the resources or capacity to provide proper care.
- Funding and implementation: Concerns have been raised that insufficient funding and inadequate implementation may render the rules ineffective in addressing the problem of stray dogs.
About Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960:
- It is the first law enacted to safeguard the rights of animals and protect them from pain and suffering caused by humans.
- It defines animals as any living creature other than humans and outlines punishments for those who inflict unnecessary cruelty on them.
- It also includes guidelines for experimenting on animals for scientific purposes and the exhibition of performing animals.
- The establishment of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) is one of the key features of this Act.
Ganga Pushkaralu Festival
Context: Recently, 12-day Pushkaralu festival of Telugu-speaking people commenced on April 22 in Varanasi.
More on the News:
- It is being organised in Kashi this year after a gap of 12 years due to a special combination of planetary transits.
- It is the second event, to be organised in Varanasi, after the Kashi-Tamil Sangamam.
- As per the legend, after severe penance, the devotee Pushkara was blessed by Lord Shiva with the ability to live in water and purify holy rivers.
- On a request from Bṛhaspati (Jupiter), Pushkara decided to enter one of the 12 sacred rivers — Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri, Bhima, Tapti, Narmada, Saraswati, Tungabhadra, Sindhu, and Pranhita.
- Each river has its zodiac sign. The river for each year’s festival is decided in accordance with Brihaspati travel from one zodiac sign to another.
- Currently, pilgrims worship their ancestors and the river Ganga.
Contempt of Court
Context: The Delhi High Court has held a bureaucrat of the Delhi Government guilty of contempt of Court.
About Contempt of Court
- It seeks to protect judicial institutions from motivated attacks and unwarranted criticism, and as a legal mechanism to punish those who lower its authority.
- This follows the initiation of contempt proceedings by the Supreme Court of India, on its own motion.
Constitutional and Legal Provision
- Article 129: It confers on the Supreme Court the power to punish contempt of itself.
- Article 215: It confers a corresponding power on the High Courts.
- The Contempt of Courts Act, 1971: It defines the power of courts to punish for their contempt and regulates their procedure.
About Contempt of Courts Act, 1971
- According to it, contempt refers to the offence of showing disrespect to the dignity or authority of a court. It defines both civil and criminal contempt:
- Civil, which is the willful disobedience of a court order or judgement, or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
- Criminal, that is written or spoken words or any act that scandalizes the court or lowers its authority or prejudices or interferes with the due course of a judicial proceeding or interferes/obstructs the administration of justice.
Punishments for Contempt of Court
- The Supreme Court and high courts have the power to punish for contempt of court, either with simple imprisonment for a term up to six months or with fine up to 2,000 or with both.
- In 1991, the Supreme Court has ruled that it has the power to punish for contempt not only of itself but also of high courts, subordinate courts and tribunals functioning in the entire country.
- On the other hand, High Courts have been given special powers to punish contempt of subordinate courts, as per Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971.
Context: Recently, Union finance minister said that Finance ministry is working to curb Ponzi schemes and prevent them from taking away people’s hard-earned money.
About Ponzi Scheme
- A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors.
- A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investing scam which generates returns for earlier investors with money taken from later investors.
- The scheme leads victims to believe that profits are coming from product sales or other means, and they remain unaware that the later investors are the source of their returns.
- The scheme traces its origin to a person named Charles Ponzi, who became notorious for using the technique in the 1920s.
Ponzi Schemes Working
- Convince people to place their money into the investment.
- Until a specified time, return the money to the investors with the promised interest rate or return.
- Showing the phenomenal success of the investment, convince more investors to invest their money into the system for higher returns.
- Keep on repeating steps 1 through 3 for a couple of times. During step 2 at one of the cycles, break the pattern.
- Instead of returning the invested money to the investors and paying the promised return, escape with the said money.
Ponzi Schemes Regulation in India
- In India, Ponzi schemes are banned under the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Act, 2019.
- Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Act, 2019 has been enacted by the Central Government. The Act contains comprehensive provisions in this regard prohibiting promoting, operating, issuing advertisements or accepting deposits in any Unregulated Deposit Scheme, and provisions for severe punishment and heavy pecuniary fines to act as deterrent.
- Ponzi schemes are banned under the Prize Chit and Money Circulation (Banning) Act, 1978.
- Role of RBI: It had launched a public awareness campaign since 2017 to educate the public about fictitious offers received through emails/ SMSes/ phone calls.
- RBI has developed Financial Awareness Messages (FAME) for five target groups Viz., entrepreneurs, Self Help Groups (SHFs), farmers, school children, senior citizens. The content inter alia spreads awareness on Ponzi Schemes and Scams among general audience.
- Role of SEBI: It is empowered to regulate Collective Investment Schemes (CIS) under Section 11AA of the SEBI Act, 1992.
- Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) conducts investor awareness programs to educate the general public, urging them to conduct investigations before making any investment.
Kuno National Park
Context: A male cheetah that strayed out of the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh has been rescued.
About Kuno National Park
- It is a national park in the Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh (MP).
- It was established in 1981 as a wildlife sanctuary. In 2018, it was given the status of a national park.
- Vegetation: It is part of the Khathiar-Gir tropical dry deciduous forests. The vegetation is dominated by the “Kardhai”, “Khair” and “Salai” trees. It is mainly a grassland area.
- Kuno National Park has spread over an area of 748.76 sq. km.
- One of the main tributaries of the Chambal River, the Kuno River, cuts across the National Park.
- Fauna: Indian wolves, jackals, leopards, langur primates, blue-bull, chinkara, and spotted deer are all present in Kuno National Park.
- Significance: Wildlife Institute of India and Wildlife Trust of India had shortlisted Kuno-Palpur as a potential habitat for Cheetahs and Asiatic lions.
- Eight cheetahs from Namibia and 12 from South Africa were transported to India and introduced at Kuno National Park (KNP).
- Other related information: People near the National Park mainly belong to the Saharia tribe.