Ongoing cyber attack hits Twitter, Amazon, other top websites

Major internet services including Twitter, Spotify and Amazon suffered service interruptions and outages on Friday as a US internet provider came under sustained cyber attack.

The internet service company Dyn, which routes and manages internet traffic, said that it had suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on its domain name service shortly after 1100 GMT.

Service was initially restored within two hours but close to three hours later the company said it was responding to an attack again.

“Our engineers are continuing to work on mitigating this issue,” the company said on its website close to 1700 GMT.

The cyber attack meant that millions of internet users could not access the websites of major online companies such as Netflix and Reddit as well as the crafts marketplace Etsy and the software developer site Github, according to media reports.

The website Gizmodo said it had received reports of difficulty at sites for media outlets including CNN, The Guardian, Wired, HBO and People as well as the money transfer service PayPal.

Dyn, which is headquartered in New Hampshire, said the attack went after its domain name service, causing interruptions and slowdowns.

Scott Hilton, executive vice president for products at Dyn, said in a statement Friday morning that a “global DDoS attack” had been launched on its Managed DNS infrastructure on the US east coast.

A map published by the website initially showed service interruptions for Level3 Communications, a so-called “backbone” internet service provider, across much of the US east coast and in Texas.

However later Friday the affected areas had spread to parts of the Midwest and California. Similar maps for Netflix and Twitter website specifically showed areas of outage in Europe.

The US Department of Homeland Security told AFP it was monitoring the situation.

“We’re aware and are investigating all potential causes,” said DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen.

Amazon affected

Amazon Web Services, which hosts some of the most popular sites on the internet, including Netflix and the homestay network Airbnb, said on its website that it had resolved problems by 1310 GMT only to begin addressing similar problems three hours later in a different region.

Domain name servers are a crucial element of internet infrastructure, converting numbered Internet Protocol addresses into the domain names that allow users to connect to internet sites.

Distributed denial of service or DDoS attacks involve flooding websites with traffic, making them difficult to access or taking them offline entirely.

Attackers can use them for a range of purposes, including censorship, protest and extortion.

The loose-knit hacktivist network Anonymous in 2010 targeted the DNS provider EveryDNS among others in 2010 as retribution for denying service to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks.

Though such attacks are not uncommon, Friday’s incident immediately unscored the interconnected vulnerabilities for large portions of the internet, with brand-name companies affected by an attack on a single company.

“The internet continues to rely on protocols and infrastructure designed before cyber security was an issue,” said Ben Johnson, a former engineer at the National Security Agency and founder of the cyber-security company Carbon Black.

He said that growing interconnection of ordinary devices to the internet, the so-called “internet of things,” increased the risks to networks.

“DDoS, especially with the rise of insecure IOT devices, will continue to plague our organizations. Sadly, what we are seeing is only the beginning in terms of large scale botnets and disproportionate damage done. “


Dar asks ministries, autonomous bodies to furnish details of surplus funds

ISLAMABAD: Following revenue slippages in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, the Ministry of Finance has asked various ministries and their autonomous bodies to provide details of their surplus funds and investments.

The ministries and their corporations have to submit updated details of surplus funds at their disposal and various investments along with their maturity period at the earliest, sources said.

No reason for the request for updated information about surplus funds has been mentioned in the finance minister’s letter.

The move aims to divert money to the Federal Consolidated Fund to bridge fiscal deficit

A senior official said it was a routine matter for the ministry to seek details of expenditures, investments, cash and surplus funds available at the disposal of various entities to ensure sound financial management. He said a circular had recently been issued to a few ministries and their subordinate entities to provide details of their accounts.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) missed its first quarter’s collection target by around Rs56 billion.

An official at the Ministry of Commerce, however, assumed that these details would help the Ministry of Finance reach a decision to divert funds to the Federal Consolidated Fund in order to bridge the fiscal deficit.

He said a similar exercise was done a few years ago. Funds available at the discretion of the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication were utilised to clear circular debt of the power sector.

He said a few insurance companies under the Ministry of Commerce, particularly State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC), had around Rs10bn-12bn in their kitty and were already at the top of the privatisation list.

The government has given an undertaking to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to achieve the fiscal deficit limit of 3.8pc of gross domestic product (GDP) in the current fiscal year. This would include a baseline deficit of 3.5pc and extraordinary spending of 0.3pc of GDP on the security and resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has also committed with the fund to “finalise the transaction of SME Bank by end-December 2016, the divestment of government’s shares in Mari Petroleum to existing shareholders by October 2016 and the initial public offering of SLIC by end-March 2017.”

In line with this commitment, the government has to lower energy subsidies to 0.4pc of GDP and “rationalise current expenditures across all layers of the general government, while continuing to increase targeted social assistance in real terms and further improving the share of development spending.”

The minister had told the IMF that he would manage budgetary spending prudently and reduce non-critical current and capital expenditures to achieve the fiscal deficit target against the backdrop of slower growth in the collection of the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) and federal non-tax revenue. “In the case of any further deviation, we would take additional measures in order to achieve our revenue and budget deficit targets.”

Soon after coming to power in 2013, the government had diverted about Rs66bn of funds under the Universal Service Fund (USF) and Research and Development Fund (RDF) to the Federal Consolidated Fund to clear circular debt.

Amendments were made at the time to the rules governing the USF and RDF to enable the transfer of funds to the Federal Consolidated Fund, commonly known as Account No. 1.

A committee led by the then law minister had told the finance minister at the time that keeping funds in the accounts of commercial banks was not only a violation of the Constitution, but also general financial rules.

Various regulatory bodies like National Electric Power Regulatory Authority and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority are also required under the rules to surrender their surplus funds to the federal treasury at the end of every fiscal year.

Second Test: Younis, Misbah assert Pakistan dominance with 304-4 after day one

Pakistan, who won the toss and decided to bat first, ended the opening day of the second Test against the West Indies on 304-4 in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Younis Khan scored his 33rd Test century before being dismissed for 127 while Captain Misbah-ul-Haq was not out at 90 on a batting-friendly pitch at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

Pakistan’s top order failed to make a consistent stand on the first day of the second Test against West Indies.

Asad Shafiq led Pakistan’s recovery after the early departure of the openers on the opening day of the second Test against West Indies. He made 68 while Sami Aslam was dismissed for six and Azhar Ali without scoring.

Azhar Ali, who scored a career best 302 not out in Dubai, played on to Gabriel in the fifth over and was bowled without scoring.

Sami Aslam also did not last long as he missed an ambitious drive off leg-spinner Devendar Bishoo and was bowled for six.

Shafiq was at his best from the start, playing with confidence as he has so far hit six boundaries in his 90-ball stay.

He drove paceman Shannon Gabriel to cover boundary for his sixth boundary to complete his 16th half-century to lift Pakistan.

The normal red ball and daylight cricket returned in Abu Dhabi after the first Test was a day-night affair with the pink ball in Dubai, as Pakistan were off to an unimpressive start.

West Indian pacer Shannon Gabriel was the pick of bowlers as he took two wickets for 43 runs.

Younis, who missed the first Test due to recovery from dengue fever, was made part of squad for second test.

“I am very happy the way Pakistan won the Test, the way Azhar scored a triple hundred and joined that elite group. I was watching the match and was very excited when on the last day there were ups and downs. The way West Indies fought and Darren Bravo scored that fighting hundred,” Younis Khan said.

West Indies were forced to leave out unfit wicket-keeper batsman Shane Dowrich, bringing in Shai Hope. Younis replaced Babar Azam, whereas Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz were replaced by Rahat Ali and Zulfiqar Babar.

The lineup for both teams is as follows:

Pakistan: Azhar Ali, S Aslam, Younis Khan, A Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq (Captain), S Ahmed (Wicket keeper), M Nawaz, Y Shah, S Khan, Z Babar, Rahat Ali.

West Indies: K Brathwaite, L Johnson, DM Bravo, M Samuels, J Blackwood, R Chase, S Hope (Wicket keeper), J Holder (Captain), D Bishoo, M Cummins, S Gabriel.

Pakistan lead the three-match series 1-0 after winning the first Test in Dubai by 56 run.The third and final Test starts in Sharjah from October 30.

Trump and Clinton carry barbs into charity dinner

NEW YORK: Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton took their acrimonious presidential contest to a charity dinner, where Trump drew boos from the well-heeled audience when his jokes veered well into the jagged terrain of his campaign speeches.

The candidates shared the stage on Thursday night at an annual white-tie dinner in New York City that raises money for needy children and typically offers White House hopefuls a respite from election tensions.


Trump, lagging Clinton in national opinion polls, had slugged it out with his rival on Wednesday night at their third and final presidential debate before the Nov 8 election. He drew sharp rebukes from Democrats and many in his own party for saying during the debate that he thinks the election is being rigged and so he will not commit yet to accepting the outcome.

Alfred Smith V, whose family hosts the dinner named after the state’s former governor, Alfred E. Smith, called Thursday’s dinner “one for the record books” and said it echoed the Las Vegas debate.

“Donald had some very solid minutes early on and eventually he crossed the line and took it a little too far,” he told CNN on Friday. “Hillary, on the other hand, was able to laugh at herself and at the same time not underplay any of the serious things that Donald Trump has said or done.”

Both the presidential candidates call New York their home but the crowd of financiers and political and media figures was largely in Clinton’s court.

Trump spoke first and set the room on edge with bitter jabs, drawing boos with his label of Clinton, a former secretary of state, as “corrupt”. “With all of the heated back and forth between my opponent and me at the debate last night, we have proven that we can actually be civil to each other,” Trump said.

“In fact just before taking the dais, Hillary accidentally bumped into me and she very civilly said, ‘Pardon me’. “And I very politely replied, ‘Let me talk to you about that after I get into office’,” said Trump.

Clinton, whose remarks elicited some heckling but mostly polite applause, recalled Trump’s past derogatory remarks about women’s looks and “ranking” them on appearance.

“Donald looks at the Statue of Liberty and sees a four, maybe a five if she loses the torch and tablet and changes her hair,” Clinton said of the New York City landmark.

“Come to think of it, you know what would be a good number for a woman? 45,” said Clinton, the first woman to be nominated for president by a major US political party. The president elected on Nov 8 will be the 45th in US history.

Trump, a New York real estate magnate, and Clinton, a former US senator from the state, were separated on the dais by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York.

As the dinner ended, they shook hands – a gesture they notably avoided at Wednesday’s debate.

Dolan said he was “kinda nervous” heading into the event and was pleased the candidates shared courteous private remarks.

“After the little prayer, Mr Trump turned to Secretary Clinton and said, ‘You are one tough and talented woman’,” Dolan told NBC’s “Today” show on Friday.

He conceded the humour was less forgiving. “There were some boos last night,” he said.

In one of the more jarring comments of the benefit, which raised $6 million for Catholic charities supporting children, Trump said Clinton was “pretending not to hate Catholics”.

Nigeria to buy 10 trainer aircraft from Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday signed an agreement for the sale of 10 Super Mushshak aircraft to the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) announced here on Friday.

“The contract signing ceremony was held at Abuja (Nigeria) where Air Vice Marshal Iya Ahmed Abdullahi and Air Marshal Arshad Malik, Chairman of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), signed the contract,” PAF spokesman Air Commodore Syed Mohammad Ali said.

The contract includes operational training and technical support and assistance to the NAF. The Pakistan Air Force would completely establish this facility in the shortest possible time, he said.

The contract will not only open new vistas for export of aviation equipment to foreign countries but also help generate revenue for the country.

The aircraft is already in service with Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran and South Africa.

The deal strengthens PAC’s status as a world class aviation industry producing the supersonic JF-17 Thunder and Super Mushshak trainer aircraft.