Thursday, 20 September 2018

State to set up cyber varsity

It will train 3,000 professionals to fight online space attacks, internet crimes

The Maharashtra Government has taken the first step towards setting up a varsity dedicated to mitigating cyber threats. It has set aside Rs. 80 crore for the first round of its funding and the proposal for the project will be tabled in the State cabinet’s consideration in the first week of October, sources said.
The new Cyber University will train 3,000 professionals to fight online space cyber attacks, internet crimes, and conduct cyber forensics. It will also impart training in 15 other Internet of Things (IoT) areas such as Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

A team of senior government officials recently visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), which monitors cyber attacks in real time, to acquire technical knowhow. CSAIL’s latest system correctly predicts about 85% of the world’s cyber attacks using machine learning and AI. “At the lab we saw in real time that the majority of the world’s cyber attacks are directed towards Russia, Japan and India,” an official said.

Cost of courses
The varsity, officials said, will provide for and prepare internet professionals on the lines of the Microsoft Certified Professional Program.The courses will cost less than Rs. 5 lakh for courses in data analytics, cloud computing, blockchain, AI, cyber forensics and cyber investigations.
Skill gap
“The current supply of cyber professionals in the country is about a lakh while the demand hovers around 30 lakh. A cyber attack is taking place every 10 minutes as opposed to 12 minutes previously. The varsity will remedy this,” an official said.
The government will provide different levels of training and enable affiliated colleges to impart certification for the 15 courses. The State will also supply infrastructure for training and education. A 2015 skill gap analysis for Maharashtra by the consultancy firm KPMG had pointed to a gap of 1.5 crore professionals in 10 sectors. “Of these, there was a greater shortfall in the IoT and Cyber Forensics sectors. The new varsity will bridge this skill gap,” the official said.

Maharashtra is already in the process of setting up its version of the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team to ward off external cyber threats. In 2016, the State had even appointed a consortium of M/s C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) and Railtel Corporation of India for the Rs. 838-crore project. The consortium in its analysis used the same technology as GARUDA, India’s national grid computing initiative, and the Graphics and Intelligence Based Script Technology, officials said.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Scientists make an AI system to spot fake news

Can we repair damaged retina like zebrafish do?

IISER Mohali researchers have decoded the different signals and genes behind this feat
 In stark contrast to mammals, the zebrafish has the ability to completely regenerate its retina and restore vision after an injury. Researchers from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Mohali, have decoded the signals and genes behind this tremendous feat and hope to uncover valuable clues as to why we humans fail at such regeneration.
A particular signalling system — sonic hedgehog (Shh) — in zebrafish has been previously reported to aid in developmental and tissue regeneration activities. To decipher the influence of Shh signalling on retina regeneration, the researchers first inhibited its function. They found that impairing this signal made 90% of the zebrafish embryo exhibit a birth defect called cyclopia. Cyclopia is also seen in humans, where there is a single median eye or a partially divided eye. Detailed understanding of this signalling may provide insights into the rare defect. Since this signalling is also responsible for retina regeneration in zebrafish, the researchers are trying to understand why the signalling does not bring about retina regeneration in humans.

They performed whole retina RNA sequencing at various time points post-retinal injury to the zebrafish eye. Several genes (zic2b, foxn4, mmp9) were found to be upregulated through Shh signalling. Zic2b and foxn4 are essential components for development and tissue regeneration, whereas mmp9 is an enzyme which makes the environment congenial for freshly formed cells. Individual knockdowns of these genes also revealed that these are indeed essential for normal retina regeneration.

The researchers also showed the role of a microRNA (let-7) which is regulated through a particular gene (Lin28a) which allows normal Shh signalling during the retina regeneration process. “During an injury, you need the proliferation of cells that let-7 is capable of blocking. So Lin28a steps in action, clears or scavenges let-7 and allows differentiated cells to be transformed into multipotent stem cells, which aid in regeneration,” explains Rajesh Ramachandran from the Department of Biological Sciences at the Institute and corresponding author of the work published in the journal Cell Reports.

Mice models
They further carried out studies on mice models by injecting the protein. “Shh protein can easily bind to its respective receptor and turn on the signalling pathway after an acute retinal injury,” says Simran Kaur, PhD scholar and first author of the work. “Though there was increased proliferation and upregulation of the genes, no regeneration of the retina was seen in mice.”
“Although we have understood the signals and genes behind the regeneration, the whole pathway and network need to be unravelled before trying it out in the mammalian system,” adds Prof. Rajesh.