Why Has Signal App Become The Talk Of The Town?

Why Has Signal App Become The Talk Of The Town?

Ever since WhatsApp gave an ultimatum to its users for abiding by the new privacy rules or leaving the popular messaging app, an underdog has risen: Signal. The latter has been topping charts in app stores after being supported by whistleblower Edward Snowden and currently the world’s richest man, Elon Musk. Let’s see what’s the hype all about.

Crux of the Matter

Underdog Rises On App Stores
Over 1 lakh users downloaded Signal, both on Google’s Play Store and Apple’s app store whereas WhatsApp’s new downloads declined 11% after its announcement of new privacy rules.

What Is Special About It?
On Whatsapp, you have to create a single-member group to send notes to yourself. However, on Signal, you can use ‘Note to Self’ to jot down thoughts while messaging others.

How Secure Is It?
Like Whatsapp, Signal uses open-source Signal Protocol, for implementing End-to-End Encryption. But it goes one step further by encrypting metadata too via ‘Sealed Sender’.

What Is Sealed Sender?
It is a new way to communicate between the sender and the recipient wherein no one, including Signal, will know who is messaging whom, which ensures ultimate privacy

Which Data Does It Collect?
None. It claims to use only the mobile number for registration and doesn’t link it to the user’s identity, unlike rivals WhatsApp, Telegram, iMessage, etc.

It is Open Source
Signal’s source code is published for anyone to examine and use under a GPLv3 license for clients and an AGPLv3 license for the server. This means it has less potential for hidden vulnerabilities.

What’s More?
By default, Signal encrypts all the local files with a 4-digit passphrase. It also supports encrypted group calls and encrypted local backup and allows disappearing messages, from 5 seconds to 1 week.

Curiopedia
  • When Facebook announced its plans to acquire WhatsApp in February 2014, WhatsApp’s founders attached a purchase price of $16 billion: $4 billion in cash and $12 billion remaining in Facebook shares. But the actual price Facebook paid was $21.8 billion, or $55 per user.
  • Brian Acton is an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur who co-founded WhatsApp. Acton left WhatsApp in September 2017 to start the Signal Foundation in 2018 with initial funding of $50 million.
  • Matthew Rosenfeld, known as Moxie Marlinspike, is an American entrepreneur, cryptographer, and computer security researcher. Marlinspike is the creator of Signal, co-founder of the Signal Foundation, and currently serves as the CEO of Signal Messenger. He is also a co-author of the Signal Protocol encryption used by Signal, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype.

Who Is QAnon Shaman, The “Proud” Participant In US Capitol Siege?

Who Is QAnon Shaman, The "Proud" Participant In US Capitol Siege?

Remember this QAnon Shaman famously seen in the recent US Capitol violence? Well, in a recent interview with VICE News, he claimed to be “proud” of his participation in the event with no regrets. In doing so he has brought the far-right conspiracy group QAnon to the spotlight. Let us look at how the group was started, its core beliefs, and its rise in US politics.

Crux of the Matter

Viking At The Capitol
VICE News recently interviewed Jake Angeli, who is the bare-chested man with face paint, fur coat, and Viking-horns famously seen at the recent US Capitol siege and violence.

Angeli calls himself “QAnon Shaman” as per USA Today, with QAnon being among several far-right groups involved in the US Capitol incident.

I’m quite proud of my participation. I’d like to think I was an observer of history being made right in front of me.

Jake Angeli, the ‘QAnon Shaman’

What Is QAnon?

  • QAnon is a conspiracy theory movement pro-Trump in nature.
  • Started in 2017 after an anonymous user “Q” started posting conspiracy theories on 4chan.
  • 4chan is a discussion site like Reddit but with extremely less censorship – mostly used by extremists.

Identity

  • Q claims to be a high-rank intelligence officer – claims to have “Q security clearance” for accessing top-secret information.
  • Q’s exact identity unclear – an operating group also possible.

Core Beliefs Of QAnon
QAnon followers believe that:

  • The world is run by a Satan-worshipping group of pedophiles.
  • Thousands of “deep state operatives” involved with such a group.
  • The group list includes Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Hollywood stars like Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.
  • Donald Trump would save the world by eradicating the group.
  • “The Storm” would come when the “deep state” members would be arrested and executed.

More recent beliefs include:

  • Anti-Semitic views.
  • Covid-19 is a hoax designed by Democrats.


Problem

  • QAnon was earlier a fringe group – now open in public with estimated millions of followers.
  • 2018: A QAnon follower was arrested for planning a bomb planting in Illinois to raise awareness about “Pizzagate”.
    Pizzagate” is a conspiracy theory claiming that Hillary Clinton runs a child- trafficking racket from a pizza parlour’s basement in Washington.
  • Facebook data shows that QAnon membership grew by 581% amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • FBI has termed it as a potential source of ‘domestic terrorism’ – several incidents of violence noted.
    Recent Capitol siege prime example.

Trump Support

  • Trump publicly claims that he is not much aware of QAnon except that they “love our country (US)”.
  • However, he has never denounced QAnon and is widely thought of as its staunch supporter.

As per Media Matters For America (December 20)

  • Trump has “amplified QAnon-promoting Twitter accounts in at least 258 instances”.
  • At least 89 Republican candidates for Congress and 20 Republican state legislature candidates expressed open support for QAnon (2 and 4 of them won respectively) in 2020.
Curiopedia
  • As of November 2020, 4chan received more than 20 million unique monthly visitors, with more than 900,000 posts made daily. The site hosts boards dedicated to a wide variety of topics, from anime and manga to video games, music, literature, fitness, politics, and sports, among others.
  • Trump owned the Trump Taj Mahal – a casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He even called it the ‘8th Wonder of the World’. It was under Trump’s possession for 26 years before going bankrupt in 2016.
  • In its most basic sense, an “anon” is an anonymous or pseudonymous Internet poster. On July 2, 2016, the anonymous posterFBIAnon“, a self-described “high-level analyst and strategist” who claimed to have “intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the Clinton case“, began posting false information about the 2016 investigation into the Clinton Foundation and claimed that Hillary Clinton would be imprisoned if Trump became president

Nifty Financial Services Index Introduced In Futures & Options

Nifty Financial Services Index Introduced In Futures & Options

Nifty Financial Services, heavier weight than Bank Nifty, will now be traded in the Derivatives segment. In our previous story, we cleared the basics of Derivatives, including Futures and Options. If you missed it or want a recap, you can read it here. Well, now let’s delve deeper into the new financial product – Nifty Financial Services Index Futures & Options.

Crux of the Matter

Nifty Financial Services F&O
Launched on September 7, 2011, Nifty financial services is the index to record and reflect the behaviour of the Indian financial services companies which include banks, insurance companies, financial institutions, housing finance and other financial services companies.

  • This index has 20 constituents – all of them are listed on the National Stock Exchange (NSE). We can say that the underlying assets (securities) for this derivative product will be these 20 stocks.
  • The Nifty Financial Services (NFS) Index will be traded on Futures and Options from 11th January 2021.
  • The contract lot size will be 40, meaning 1 NFS derivative will have 40 contracts.
  • The beta (sensitivity of the stock to the movement in the Nifty or the stock market) will be 1.20 to 1.25, meaning a 100 point movement in Nifty may lead to 125 point movement in NFS F&O.
  • The Index will be a more powerful indicator than Nifty Bank index since it has a few other important non-banking financial companies.

The total free-float market capitalization of the Nifty Financial Services index is 25.11 lakh crores as compared to 17.44 lakh crores of Nifty Bank. (Free-Float Market Cap = Total Shareholding – Promoters’ Holdings).

Looking forward to the mega-IPO plan of LIC by the Government, the plan of making the Nifty Financial Services Index traded in Futures and Options seems reasonable and inevitable since LIC will be added to this index in future post its IPO.

Summachar brings you this story in collaboration with Finmedium that can be found on Instagram at @finmedium and on the web here.

Curiopedia
  • In finance, being short in an asset means investing in such a way that the investor will profit if the value of the asset falls. This is the opposite of a more conventional “long” position, where the investor will profit if the value of the asset rises.
  • A corporate promoter is a firm or person who does the preliminary work incidental to the formation of a company, including its promotion, incorporation, and flotation, and solicits people to invest money in the company, usually when it is being formed. An investment banker, an underwriter, or a stock promoter may, wholly or in part, perform the role of a promoter.
  • A fiduciary is a person who holds a legal or ethical relationship of trust with one or more other parties (person or group of persons). Typically, a fiduciary prudently takes care of money or other assets for another person.

Mysterious Deaths Of Indian Scientists

Mysterious Deaths Of Indian Scientists

After looking at ISRO scientist Tapan Misra’s revelation on Facebook and thwarting of Indian tech programmes, let us take a look at the ‘mysterious’ deaths of notable Indian scientists as well the (lack of) response from the Indian state.

Crux of the Matter

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

  • Commonly known as the father of the space programme of India.
  • 30 Dec 1971: Dr. Sarabhai was found dead in a hotel room at Halcyon Castle in Kovalam (Kerala).
  • Former ISRO scientist S Nambi Narayanan has claimed in his biography that Dr. Sarabhai was cremated without autopsy – his death was likely an “international conspiracy”.

Dr. Homi Bhabha

  • Homi J Bhabha, a renowned Indian nuclear physicist, died in an air crash in 1966.
  • Journalist Gregory Douglas published his interviews with Robert Crowley, a former CIA officer for 4 years in Conversations with the Crow.

Douglas claimed in his book that Crowley had told him that:

  • US had “trouble” when India started work on the atomic bomb.
  • Bhabha was “dangerous” and was “warned several times”.

We could have blown it up over Vienna but we decided the high mountains were much better for the bits and pieces to come down on. I think a possible death or two among mountain goats is much preferable than bringing down a huge plane right over a big city… India was quieter after Bhabha croaked.

Robert Crowley on blowing up Bhabha’s flight according to Conversations with the Crow


Dr. Nambi Narayanan

  • Dr. Nambi Narayanan of ISRO was leading the cryogenic rocket engine project.
  • 1994: Dr. Narayanan was arrested on charges of leaking highly confidential data to foreign agencies, and was beaten and tortured in jail.
  • Exonerated (acquitted) by CBI which took investigation from Kerala Police.
  • 1998: The Supreme Court dismissed the case.
  • 2001: The SC ordered Kerala Government to pay him compensation – ordered investigation into ‘fabrication of case’ in 2018.

Stats
Between 1995 and 2010:

  • 684 persons at ISRO and its “associate units” died as per reply to a 2010 RTI enquiry by activist Chetan Kothari. However, ISRO withheld the causes of the deaths.
  • 197 employees committed suicide and 1,733 employees died of various illnesses across all Indian “nuclear establishments and related institutes”.
  • Notably, hundreds of such cases have dismissed as ‘unexplained’ or ‘suicide’. As per a petition by Chetan Kothari, “[there is a] surprising negligence by media and Govt in regularly passing off such deaths as ‘routine”.

All we know is that at ISRO people have been dying at the rate of 45.6 per year and it does not want to tell the public how have they perished. Majority of the government agencies know the cause of their employee’s death, but the ISRO claims that it has no idea how its employees died. This is either sheer callousness on the part of the ISRO or attempt to hide facts from the public.

Chetan Kothari, RTI Activist who had filed the RTI regarding deaths of the scientists

Curiopedia
  • Homi Bhabha was killed in an air crash near Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966. Former CIA operative Robert Crowley has claimed that the CIA was responsible for the crash. In Oct 1965 Bhabha had said that India could make a nuclear bomb in 18 months if he was given a go-ahead.
  • S. Nambi Narayanan is an Indian scientist and aerospace engineer and Padma Bhushan award, winner. As a senior official at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he was in charge of the cryogenics division. In 1994, he was falsely charged with espionage and arrested. The charges against him were dismissed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 1996, and the Supreme Court of India declared him not guilty in 1998.
  • The Tashkent Files is an Indian Hindi-language conspiracy thriller film about the death of former Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri died in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (then the Soviet Union) on 11 January 1966, one day after signing a peace treaty to end the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.

Previous Cases Of Foreign Powers V/S Indian Tech Progress

Previous Cases Of Foreign Powers Vs Indian Tech Progress

With ISRO scientist Tapan Misra revealing several poisoning attempts made on his life, a larger picture of foreign powers hindering Indian tech development has emerged. Let us go back in time and know the most notable instances of such.

Crux of the Matter

Who Is Tapan Misra?
Tapan Misra is currently the Senior Advisor at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He has earlier served as the Director of the Space Application Centre (SAC) of ISRO.

Why Is He In The News?
On 5 Jan 2021, Misra posted an account of several poisoning attempts made on his life on Facebook. This was done in the same month he is ‘superannuating’ (retiring) i.e. in January 2021.

His post also points to several mysterious deaths of important scientists in India in the past. There have also been several instances of foreign powers hindering Indian tech progress in the past decades as well.

Read the detailed story here: ISRO Scientist Tapan Misra Reveals Assassination Attempts On Him

US Rejects GPS Aid During Kargil

  • 1999: India requested the Global Positioning System (GPS) data from the US for Kargil region as Pakistani troops occupied the region.
  • US denied the request, making India realize the need for an indigenous GPS then.
  • Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) was thus approved in 2006, which has been renamed Navigation With Indian Constellation (NavIC).
  • India now alongside US, Russia, European Union, and China to have an indigenous GPS system.

Sanctions Due To Pokhran

  • May 1998: India conducted underground nuclear tests in Pokhran in Rajasthan desert.
  • US and several other nations imposed harsh sanctions against India, denying it critical nuclear and space technology.
  • International sanctions also imposed after the first nuclear test in 1974.
  • Severe impact on India’s nuclear development as Indian atomic reactors operated drastically below their maximum capacity owing to lack of fuel.
  • India also suffered from the withdrawal of humanitarian aid by the US and other nations following it after the tests.

Interference In Cryogenic Engine Deal
In June 2017, India launched GSAT-19, a geostationary communication satellite. The launch was notable due to the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-MkIII) having an “entirely indigenouscryogenic engine. The Cryogenic stage is crucial for the ‘extra thrust’ required by the rocket especially in the case of heavy satellites.

  • 1991: ISRO and Glavkosmos (Russian space agency) signed an agreement – the latter to supply 2 cryogenic engines to the former.
  • Also included ‘transfer of technology’ so that India could develop them by itself later.
  • US had lost in the engine contract race – afterwards objected to the deal citing provisions of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Notably, neither India nor Russia were members of the MTCR.
  • Russia, suffering from then recent collapse of USSR, agreed to US pressure and cancelled the deal.
  • Russia was then allowed to sell 7 cryogenic engines to India instead of the original 2, but the transfer of technology was not allowed.
  • Slowed down India’s GSLV program with no transfer of technology.
  • ISRO started indigenous development as soon as the original deal with Russia was cancelled.
    2014: An experimental flight of the third generation (Mk-III) GSLV having indigenous cryogenic engine was successful.

Apart from these obstacles, Indian scientists have been on the radar of malicious intents to ostracize India’s tech development. Know more about it here: Mysterious Deaths Of Indian Scientists

Curiopedia
  • Homi Bhabha was killed in an air crash near Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966. Former CIA operative Robert Crowley has claimed that the CIA was responsible for the crash. In Oct 1965 Bhabha had said that India could make a nuclear bomb in 18 months if he was given a go-ahead.
  • S. Nambi Narayanan is an Indian scientist and aerospace engineer and Padma Bhushan award, winner. As a senior official at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he was in charge of the cryogenics division. In 1994, he was falsely charged with espionage and arrested. The charges against him were dismissed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 1996, and the Supreme Court of India declared him not guilty in 1998.
  • The Tashkent Files is an Indian Hindi-language conspiracy thriller film about the death of former Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri died in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (then the Soviet Union) on 11 January 1966, one day after signing a peace treaty to end the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.