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EU wants to toughen cybersecurity rules for smart devices

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(Last Updated On: September 17, 2022)

The European Union’s executive arm proposed new legislation Thursday that would force manufacturers to ensure that devices connected to the internet meet cybersecurity standards, making the 27-nation bloc less vulnerable to attacks.

The EU said a ransomware attack takes place every 11 seconds, and the global annual cost of cybercrime was estimated at 5.5 trillion euros in 2021. In Europe alone, cyberattacks cost between 180 and 290 billion euros each year, according to EU officials.

The European Commission said an increase of cyberattacks was witnessed during the coronavirus pandemic and that Russia’s war in Ukraine has raised concerns that European energy infrastructure could also be targeted amid a global energy crunch, AP reported.

The law, proposed as the Cyber Resilience Act, aims to remove from the EU market all products with digital elements that are not adequately protected.

The EU’s executive commission said the law would not only reduce attacks but also benefit consumers since it will improve data and privacy protection

“When it comes to cybersecurity, Europe is only as strong as its weakest link, be it a vulnerable member state or an unsafe product along the supply chain,” said Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for the internal market.

“Computers, phones, household appliances, virtual assistance devices, cars, toys… each and every one of these hundreds of millions of connected products is a potential entry point for a cyberattack.”

Breton said most hardware and software products are currently not subject to any cybersecurity obligations.

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Saudi calls on Kabul not to allow the country to become a terrorist haven

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(Last Updated On: September 25, 2022)

Saudi Arabia has asked the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to not let the country become a sanctuary for terrorist activities.

Speaking at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud has called for the joint cooperation of all countries to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a center for the growth of terrorism.

“Afghanistan should not become a center for terrorist activities for the growth of terrorists; we should cooperate with this country to achieve lasting peace and stability and have a prosperous economy,” he said.

Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Minister, said that Afghanistan is moving from chaos to order, principles and legality, adding that the creation of an inclusive political framework and moderate policies can lead Afghanistan in the right direction.

“Afghanistan is in a critical transition from chaos to order, the right way forward is to put in place an inclusive political framework and adopt moderate policies,” Wang Yi added.

“The goal should be to resume economic growth and improve people’s lives with the fighting terrorism.”

In the meantime, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose country is under severe international sanctions due to the military invasion of Ukraine, said that America has failed to bring peace and tranquility to the countries it has invaded.

“Washington erected itself into an almost envoy of god on earth without any obligation but only the sacred right to intervene wherever it wants and this can be done anywhere against any state,” said Lavrov.

The Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar meanwhile stated:
“There is no attention for terrorist activities, the United Nations must respond to terrorism by sanctioning its perpetrators, we support a collaborative, inclusive and consultative approach in international relations.”

“We consider dialogue and diplomacy as the only way out of problems.”

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has repeatedly stated that terrorist groups are not gaining a foothold in Afghanisitan and that in many instances it is third parties trying to give the impression that Afghanistan is the center of terrorism in the world.

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Pfizer CEO tests positive for COVID for second time

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(Last Updated On: September 25, 2022)

Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said on Saturday he had tested positive for COVID-19 but that he was symptom free.

“I’m feeling well and symptom free,” Bourla said in a statement.

Bourla, 60, back in August had contacted COVID and had started a course of the company’s oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment, Paxlovid.

Paxlovid is an antiviral medication that is used to treat high-risk people, such as older patients.

Bourla has received four doses of the COVID vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

The chief executive said he has not yet taken the new bivalent booster.

Developed by Moderna and the team of Pfizer and BioNTech, the new so-called bivalent shots aim to tackle the BA.5 and BA.4 Omicron subvariants, which make up 84.8% and 1.8%, respectively, of all circulating variants in the United States, based on latest data.

“I’ve not had the new bivalent booster yet, as I was following CDC guidelines to wait three months since my previous COVID case which was back in mid-August,” Bourla added.

In August, the FDA authorized Pfizer and Moderna’s updated booster shots that target the dominant BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants.

A federal health agency said this week that over 25 million doses of the so-called bivalent shots had been sent out. That consisted of mostly the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, as production of the Moderna vaccine ramps up.

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UNAMA and US condemn Kabul mosque explosion

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2022)

Friday’s explosion near Wazir Mohammad Akbar Khan Mosque in Kabul city center has sparked widespread condemnation after seven people were killed and dozens wounded.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Friday’s attack in Kabul was a reminder of insecurity and the continuation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan.

“Another bitter reminder of ongoing insecurity and terrorist activity in Afghanistan – this attack outside a downtown mosque in Kabul caused numerous casualties, including fatalities,” UNAMA said.

The US Embassy in Kabul, which is currently operating in Qatar, also strongly condemned the bombing.

“The US strongly condemns this vicious attack on worshipers outside the Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque in Kabul,” US embassy stated. “Such an attack against people professing their faith is unjustifiable.”

Former president Hamid Karzai also condemned the incident and said the attack was reprehensible and unforgivable.

Karzai said the attack was contrary to human and Islamic principles and values.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) meanwhile described this attack as cowardly and said that the perpetrators will be identified and punished.

The IEA’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that targeting mosques and worshipers is an unforgivable crime. He asked the people to cooperate with the Afghan government to prevent such attacks.

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