Governments in India to Spend $6.88 Billion on IT in 2015: Gartner

Governments in India will spend $6.88 billion (roughly Rs. 45,415 crores) on IT products and services in 2015, an increase of 5.2 percent over 2014, according to market research firm Gartner.

The forecast includes spending on internal services, software, IT services, data centre, devices and telecom services by local, state and the union government.

IT services, which include consulting, implementation, IT outsourcing and business process outsourcing, is expected to grow 10 percent in 2015 to reach $1.6 billion (roughly Rs. 10,562 crores) – with the business process outsourcing sub-segment growing by 21 percent, the firm said.

“Government spending on software will total $869 million (roughly Rs. 5,736 crores) in 2015, a 10.6 percent increase from 2014,” said Anurag Gupta, research vice president at Gartner.

“The software market will be led by growth in vertical specific software (software applications that are unique to a vertical industry). These are stand-alone applications that are not modules or extensions of horizontal applications,” he added.

The research firm also predicts that telecom services will also be a $1.6 billion market, with the mobile network services sub-segment recording fastest growth of 3 percent in 2015 to reach $787 million (roughly Rs. 5,195 crores).

According to Gartner, internal services will grow 8.8 percent in 2015 to reach $1.6 billion. Internal services refer to salaries and benefits paid to the information services staff of an organization. The information services staff includes all company employees that plan, develop, implement and maintain information systems.

“The investments in the ‘Digital India’ initiative, led by a focus to allow access of government services on mobile devices (part of the mobile government), expansion on broadband and planning for smart cities, will be a stimulus for Indian governments ICT initiatives,” Gupta said.

Google Case Final Decision to Take Quite Some Time, Says CCI

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Fair trade regulator CCI said on Wednesday it would take “quite some time” before reaching a final decision on the case related to Internet major Google’s alleged anti-competitive practices.

The Competition Commission of India’s investigative arm has submitted its report on the matter.

“It is going to take quite some time before there is any finality on the matter,” CCI Chairman Ashok Chawla said.

He was responding to a query about the status of the Google case and speculations surrounding it.

“There is always speculation in high-profile cases. The short point is it (the case) has to go through the process as prescribed in the Competition Act… The parties (concerned) have to be heard and then the Commission will come to a decision,” Chawla said on the sidelines of a summit in New Delhi.

The investigation report has been sent out to parties on both sides and their comments are awaited. The regulator refers cases to its investigative arm’s Director General (DG) for a detailed probe.

The DG report is believed to contain comments and inputs from a host of entities present in the Internet business, including some well-known e-commerce firms and Web portals.

While submissions from some of them appear to suggest violations on part of Google, others have sided with the US-based global giant.

“We are currently reviewing this report from the CCI’s ongoing investigation. We continue to work closely with CCI and remain confident that we comply fully with India’s competition laws,” a Google spokesperson had said in August.

CCI, which first received a complaint against Google back in 2011, has been looking into allegations that the company abused its dominant position in the search engine space for well over three years.

Participating in the Skoch summit on ‘Transformative Governance’, Chawla said transformative governance is critical as it helps to ensure efficiency, transparency as well as strengthen institutions.

Google’s ‘Brotli’ Wants to Make the Web Faster and Lighter

Amid the ad-blocking controversy, wherein more users than ever are using ad-blocking tools to make webpages cleaner and lighter, Google has announced a new compression technology which can make the websites load faster. Called Brotli, the compression algorithm is said to be about 20 to 26 percent more efficient than Zopfli, the existing compressing technology that fuels the vast majority of the Web today.

So how long before this new algorithm gets implemented? Not anytime soon, unfortunately. Plenty of work is required to make the underlying changes at both server and browsers ends. Google hopes that the new format will be adopted in coming years by major browsers, but there’s no saying if they will. Don’t be surprised to see Chrome add support for it soon though.

If you are interested in learning more about the new compression technique itself, here’s a little primer – warning, it’s fairly technical.

The existing mainstream technology Zopfli encodes data into DEFLATE, gzip and zlib formats. Zlib format is also used in a number of other platforms including Linux, OS X, iOS, and even Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Deflat and gzip, to offer some context, use LZ77 and Huffman coding to arrange data in a way that reduces their final size significantly. While these technologies are sophisticated from the security standpoint, Google has introduced some improvements to pack in the codes more densely, which results in reduction in size of the data being transmitted.

Brotli utilises a modern variant of the decades old LZ77 algorithm, Huffman coding and “second order context modeling” that is able to deliver the same compression ratio as of the existing technologies while offering more dense compression. It does so by — among other things — including a 122,784-byte size static dictionary of 13,504 words or syllables of English, Hindi, Russian and Arabic, and other languages, as well as common phrases used in machine readable languages, particularly HTML and JavaScript. The static dictionary can be useful for compressing short files.

The smaller compressed size would benefit users who’re accessing the Web on mobile devices. The company said, in addition to that, this compression algorithm will also save users some money, and sip less battery on their devices

Delhi’s DTC Buses to Have Free Wi-Fi Facility Soon: Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday announced that free Wi-Fi facility would soon be provided to commuters in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses.

Kejriwal made the announcement in the presence of Transport Minister Gopal Rai, DTC managing director C.R. Garg and thousands of DTC employees while attending an awards ceremony at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium in New Delhi.

“Delhi government will provide free Wi-Fi facility in DTC buses as soon as possible. In this connection, we are in touch with some big companies,” Kejriwal said.

Several leading Internet and telecom sector companies, including Google, Facebook and Ericsson, held discussions with the Kejriwal led-Delhi government, regarding its ambitious city-wide free Wi-Fi project, on Friday.

Dwarka legislator Adarsh Shastri, who is looking after the planning and consultation process of the project, confirmed about the interest shown by the companies.

“Several companies have contacted us in this connection. We will finalise the tender process in next few days,” Shastri told IANS.

“A draft of the request for proposal (RFP) in this connection has been prepared and will soon be put before the chief minister for approval,” he added.

The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had promised during assembly polls to make the national capital a free Wi-Fi zone.

Asked about the development, a Facebook spokesperson said, “Connecting the world and delivering Internet access through a variety of ways is core to our connectivity mission. We are committed to working with various government agencies to help make Digital India a reality.”

Ashley Madison Parent CEO Quits After Huge Infidelity Data Hack

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The chief executive of infidelity website Ashley Madison’s parent company Avid Life Media has left, just over a week after hackers leaked data about millions of its clients in a massive cyber-assault.

Avid Life said on Friday the departure of Noel Biderman was by “mutual agreement” and its existing senior management team would take over until a new CEO is appointed.

On Aug. 18, hackers who claimed to be unhappy with its business practices released the Ashley Madison customer data, and police probing the breach said it had sparked extortion attempts and at least two unconfirmed suicides.

The data dump contained email addresses of US government officials, UK civil servants and workers at European and North American corporations, taking already deep-seated fears about Internet security and data protection to a new level.

“This change is in the best interest of the company and allows us to continue to provide support to our members and dedicated employees,” the Toronto-based company said.

Biderman, styling himself the “King of Infidelity,” had been the company’s primary pitchman but the married father of two has not made any public appearances since the attack.

His exit could help appease investors and business partners but would do little to placate subscribers or the public, said Dan Hill, president of strategic communications firm Ervin Hill Strategy.

“Given the number of battles they are fighting that are so significant and high profile, I don’t see how this is going to move the needle for them,” he said.

He said Avid Life would have to find a replacement fast.

“You can’t run an organization through a crisis by committee,” he said.

Biderman founded Ashley Madison in 2001 and Avid Life Media acquired it in 2007.

A second data dump by the hackers released thousands of Biderman’s emails and other company documents.

Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the data, emails or documents.

To date, few top executives have lost their jobs after big cyber breaches.

Sony Pictures America co-chairman Amy Pascal stepped down in February after last year’s devastating breach at Sony Corp’s Hollywood studio and Target Corp replaced its CEO last year in the wake of a 2013 breach that exposed records of tens of millions of the retailer’s customers.

Cyber-security firm Veracode Chief Technology Officer Chris Wysopal said he expects such ousters to become more common.

“Breaches are huge financial issues, even existential issues for companies. They are getting bigger and more impactful to the companies being breached,” he said.

Report Links Sophisticated Hacking Scheme to Iran

Researchers have linked a sophisticated hacking scheme targeting Iranian dissidents back to Iran.

A report released Thursday by the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs describes how the hackers used text message and phone-based phishing to try to get around the security of Google’s Gmail and access the accounts of their targets.

The attacks studied by the Citizen Lab were very similar to others connected to Iranian hackers, the report says.

According to the report, some of the attacks began when the targets received text messages that appeared to be from Google saying that there had been an unauthorized attempt to access their Gmail accounts.

The hackers would then follow up with a carefully crafted email notification containing personal details and stating that the login attempt had been from “The Iran,” boosting the fears of people already worried about Iranian hackers.

The emails contained links directing the target to a page where they could reset their password. But in fact, the links were to phishing sites designed to collect the target’s password. The hackers would then, in real time, use the password to login to the user’s account and trigger the sending of an identification code to the target.

Gmail uses the code as a form of two-factor authentication, which adds a second layer of security on top of a person’s password. The hackers would then wait for the target to enter the code, collect it through the fraudulent website, and then use it to take control of the account.

In other cases, the targets were contacted by phone by a person speaking English or Farsi, the predominate language in Iran, who would make a “proposal” related to the target’s business activities. The fake proposal, usually promising thousands of dollars, would then be sent to the target’s Gmail in the form of an email containing a fake Google Drive link.

When the target clicked on the drive, they would be prompted to login with the Google credentials and ultimately the two-factor identification code, just like in the cases of the text messages.

While attempts to circumvent two-factor authentication security are nothing new when it comes to financial fraud-related hackings, the practice is fairly new to politically motivated attacks.

“It may be that, as a growing number of potential targets have begun using two-factor authentication on their email accounts out of a concern for their security, politically motivated attackers are borrowing from a playbook that financial criminals have written over the past decade,” the report reads.

The report emphasizes that these kinds of attacks are increasing, boosting the importance of two-factor authentication.

It notes that in the case of these hackers, the existence of the code significantly increased the amount of work required. The hackers were forced to actively monitor the phishing site and enter the information they collected in real time in order to take control of the accounts.

Without the existence of the code, the hackers could have just collected passwords through the fake website at their leisure, the report says.

YouTube Gaming Launched; Android and iOS Apps to Roll Out Gradually

YouTube on Wednesday strode into an arena dominated by Amazon-owned Twitch, with the launch of a service tailored for the hot trend of video game play as a spectator sport.

The rollout of YouTube Gaming marked the public debut of an online venue where video game lovers can find commentary, live play, on-demand snippets and more.

YouTube Gaming had been in a test phase since it was shown off at an Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) extravaganza in June.

“As promised, and after some excellent road-testing by thousands of dedicated gaming fans, YouTube Gaming is now available,” YouTube engineering manager Frank Petterson said in a blog post.

“Blending gaming videos and live streams, YouTube Gaming brings you closer to the games, gamers, and culture that matter to you.”

An English-language website at gaming.youtube.com was being rolled out in countries where YouTube is available, according to Petterson.

He said that a YouTube Gaming application was being made available in Britain and the United States for mobile devices powered by Apple or Android software, with more countries to be added “soon.”

“Having a destination where you can get all the gaming content you care about is really important,” Ryan Wyatt, YouTube’s head of gaming partnerships, told AFP at E3 while showing off the online venue for live or on-demand video focused on gaming.

“That is why we created this,” he said.

Massive online audiences
Billions of hours of video related to gaming are watched monthly on YouTube, from “walk-through” clips showing players how to handle challenges, to comedic commentary and in-game action, according to Wyatt.

The online arena for video game channels incorporates the search smarts of Google, which owns YouTube, to surface fresh or must-see content.

US online retail giant Amazon last year snatched up Twitch and its huge audience for live-streamed gaming.

The acquisition was one of the largest in Amazon’s history $970 million in cash for the three-year-old Internet company.

Twitch Interactive streams games being played for non-playing viewers to watch, and hosts gaming events.

It allows viewers to chat with the players and others, lending it some of the qualities of social networking websites, and it also sells advertising to generate income.

The takeover came with a boom in online viewing of real-time video game or computer game play as “e-sports” attract growing crowds as spectator events.

Online Application for New Medical Colleges Made Mandatory

Applications for setting up of medical colleges or increasing intake in existing ones will have to be “mandatorily” submitted online.

The Union Health Ministry’s move is aimed at making the entire process more transparent.

However, the existing manual submission of applications will also continue along with the online mode, which will be an “add-on procedure”.

“The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has introduced a new procedure for submitting application or proposal. It is an add-on procedure which will run parallel with conventional procedure of manual submission of applications.

“As per the revised procedure, an online application is mandatory and comes into effect from August 1 this year,” an official statement said.

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The Health Ministry had put up a public notice regarding this in the first week of the month. A ministry official had told PTI that the process was just the beginning towards the online path and various other processes are proposed to be automated in the next one year to bring in more transparency.

Applicants or colleges desirous of filling an application for purpose of establishment of new medical colleges or increase intake capacity of MBBS seats will have to visit the Health Ministry’s website and go to the link of medical education (online application system).

They will have to undergo a one-time registration using a valid e-mail address, login, read and accept terms of online application, fill up the columns of the application which are enabled, upload a scanned copy of essentially certificate and demand draft, upload the application and obtain an acknowledgement of the online application.

The applicants also have to file a manual copy of the complete application as prescribed by the Medical Council of India (MCI) regulations, along with all valid documents in original.

Google to Promote Digital Literacy in Haryana

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Search engine giant Google has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the government of Haryana to promote digital literacy in the state.

Google will undertake a digital literacy drive covering Internet safety in government schools, and also conduct a similar exercise for government officials.

The MoU in this regard was signed in Silicon Valley in the presence of visiting Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar who is leading a high-level delegation on a tour to the US and Canada to attract investments to his state.

“It will not only give a decisive push to our drive to digitise Haryana but also help pace up work,” the chief minister said.

“The MoU takes us closer to realising our objective of spreading digital literacy and awareness among the people of the state. I am confident that citizens of Haryana are now close to an exciting and empowering digital dawn,” he said.

Google India’s policy country head Chetan Krishnaswamy said they hope the joint initiatives will bear rich dividends for the state and its citizens as they embrace the Internet and help the government achieve its vision.

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“We are delighted to be collaborating with the government of Haryana in furthering its objective of digitising Haryana through state-wide digital literacy campaigns and helping the different departments in optimising their web assets for mobile platforms,” he said.

The Haryana government signed another MoU with Applied Materials, a leading material engineering solutions global in providing to shore up solar skill training and expand the use of solar energy in the state.

Later at a news conference, the chief minister said his government is creating world class infrastructure in Haryana.

“Earlier, there were only four national highways in the state. Now, nine additional National Highways have already been approved. Besides, we shall have a special purpose vehicle for all clearances related to the Railways,” he said.

To achieve these objectives, Khattar said the state government recently announced its Entrepreneur Promotion Policy 2015 with key features like ease-of-doing business and single-window system to ensure speedy clearances.

A cluster has been created for each kind of industry. As Panipat is home to textile industry, the state government is going to provide special rebate in taxes to ensure sustainability of such units and every grievance of industry will be redressed, he asserted

Google-Twitter Deal on Search Expands to Desktop

Google and Twitter announced Friday their partnership placing tweets in online search results has been extended to desktop.

Confirmation came in a tweeted exchange between the two US tech firms.

“Hey @twitter, Search party at our place. Meet us on desktop?” Google said, to which Twitter replied, “You got it, @google. We’ll bring the Tweets.”

The two firms agreed in May to place tweets in Google mobile search results, and that the same would apply to desktop at a later time.

The two firms had a similar arrangement dating back to 2009, but tweets disappeared from Google search results in 2011.

The tie-up could help boost engagement at Twitter, which has seen growth sputter compared with other social networks. It also brings fresh content and commentary from Twitter to Google search queries.

“It’s a great way to get real-time info when something is happening,” Google’s Ardan Arac said when the deal was announced in May.