Daily Prelims Notes 13 November 2023
- November 13, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
13 November 2023
Table Of Contents
- As thousands of earthquakes rock Iceland, a volcanic eruption to follow?
- Pursuing Fusion Power
- World’s biggest bank, China’s ICBC, hit by ransomware
- An unimaginable humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Sudan
Section: Physical geography
- A swarm of 800 earthquakes rocked Iceland’s southwestern Reykjanes peninsula in under 14 hours.
- The most powerful of these quakes had a magnitude of 5.2 and hit about 40 km from Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital.
- Perlan is a Reykjavik-based natural history museum.
What is happening to Iceland?
- Iceland is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, technically the longest mountain range in the world, but on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.
- The ridge separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates — making it a hotbed of seismic activity.
- On average, Iceland experiences around 26000 earthquakes a year. Sometimes, a swarm of earthquakes — a sequence of mostly small earthquakes with no identifiable mainshock — is a troubling precursor to a volcanic eruption.
How can earthquake swarms be portents of volcanic activity?
- Deep under the Earth’s surface, intense heat melts rocks to form magma, a thick flowing substance lighter than solid rock.
- This drives it upwards and most of it gets trapped in magma chambers deep underground.
- Over time, this viscous liquid cools and solidifies once again. However, a tiny fraction erupts through vents and fissures on the surface, causing volcanic eruptions.
- The movement of magma close to the Earth’s surface exerts a force on the surrounding rock, which often causes earthquake swarms.
- The underground movement of magma does not necessarily lead to an eruption. But the closer it gets to the surface, the more likely an eruption is, and the more frequent symptomatic earthquake swarms get.
Fagradalsfjall volcanic system:
- Fagradalsfjall lies about 40 km to the southwest of Reykjavík and is the “world’s newest baby volcano.”
- It had been dormant for eight centuries before erupting in 2021, 2022 and 2023.
How many active volcanos does Iceland currently have?
- Iceland has 33 active volcanoes which have erupted over 180 times in the past 1,000 years.
- Active volcanos are those which have erupted within the Holocene (the current geologic epoch, which began at the end of the most recent ice age about 11,650 years ago) or which have the potential to erupt again in the future.
- One of Iceland’s most famous volcanoes is Eyjafjallajökull. Other famous volcanoes include Hekla, Grímsvötn, Hóluhraun, and Litli-Hrútur (part of the Fagradalsfjall system).
Source: Indian Express
Subject : Science and Tech
Section: Nuclear energy
What is Nuclear Fusion:
- The process of nuclear fusion involves the fusion of two atomic nuclei to create a single, heavier nucleus, resulting in a substantial release of energy.
- These reactions necessitate conditions beyond room temperature, requiring significant energy input to facilitate the generation of fusion-powered energy.
- This fundamental reaction is the same process that fuels the sun and other celestial bodies.
Different Fusion Fuel Types:
How is Fusion better than Fission:
- Both fission and fusion harness the binding energy within atomic nuclei, unleashing a significant amount of energy.
- Fission, however, faces challenges due to long-lasting radioactive by-products that necessitate specialized disposal. Accidents, as seen in Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986), can release radioactive material.
- In contrast, fusion reactors, relying on abundant hydrogen, can be established anywhere, eliminating the need for rare radioactive substances.
- Fusion yields substantial energy four times more than fission making it a promising source for future power reactors, offering virtually carbon-free electricity without persistent radioactive residues once commercialized.
Why is Fusion Energy so challenging to achieve:
- The primary challenge in achieving nuclear fusion is initiating and sustaining the fusion reaction.
- Overcoming the repulsion between positively charged atomic nuclei requires achieving high speeds, typically a plasma temperature of at least 100 million degrees Celsius. Researchers employ external energy sources while combating the plasma’s attempts to radiate energy away.
- The second challenge involves confining the superheated nuclei to sustain collisions for an extended period, often using magnetic fields.
- Extracting fusion energy and converting it into electricity, tailored to the fuel mix, forms the final challenge, with potential solutions like neutron-absorbing blankets in deuterium-tritium reactions.
What is International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor( ITER)
- It is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject aimed at creating energy by replicating on Earth the fusion processes of the Sun.
- When operational it would become the biggest machine anywhere in the world which would be more complex than the Large Hadron Collider at CERN or the LIGO project to detect gravitational waves.
- India joined the ITER project in 2005. The Institute for Plasma Research in Ahmedabad, a laboratory under the Department of Atomic Energy, is the lead institution from the Indian side participating in the project.
- 35 nations are collaborating to build the world’s largest tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy
- The ITER Members are China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States
Subject : Science and Tech
Section: Awareness in IT
Context: World’s biggest bank, China’s ICBC, hit by ransomware
More about the news:
- The US branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) experienced a ransomware attack, causing minimal disruption to trades in the US Treasury market.
- Lockbit 3.0 was behind the attack.
- The bank is investigating the incident and taking steps to recover, including isolating impacted systems.
What is ICBC:
- ICBC, a Chinese state-owned commercial bank, is China’s and the world’s largest lender in terms of assets over $ 6 trillion, and one of the most profitable companies in the world, according to Forbes.
- It is also the 3rd largest bank in the world behind JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America by market capitalization, at $ 194.57 billion, according to a Fobes
What are ransomware attacks:
- A ransomware attack is a cyberattack using malware that encrypts the victim’s files and requires users to pay a ransom to decrypt the files.
- It is often designed to spread across a network and target database and file servers, and can thus quickly paralyze an entire organization.
- Unlike other cyber-attacks, in this form of attack, the user is notified of the attack.
- Ransomware spreads easily when it encounters unpatched or outdated software.
What is Lockbit 3.0:
- LockBit 3.0, developed by the Lockbit group, is a prevalent strain of ransomware, constituting approximately 28% of known attacks from July 2022 to June 2023.
- The group, which markets its malware on the dark web, has executed over 1,400 attacks globally, with ransom demands exceeding $100 million.
- While LockBit has Russian origins, confirmation is lacking.
Why is this attack such a big deal:
- The ransomware attack on the US arm of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is considered unusual for a bank of its size, given the robust cybersecurity measures typically employed by financial institutions.
- Banks, particularly large ones, invest significantly in cybersecurity to protect against cyber threats.
- The attack on ICBC, a major player in the global financial system, raises concerns about potential consequences, highlighting the evolving and sophisticated nature of cyber threats in the financial sector.
What has the impact of this attack been:
- Despite the ransomware attack on the US arm of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that the incident only had minimal disruptions to the Treasury market.
- Market participants mentioned issues with settlements, affecting market liquidity.
- However, ICBC reported successfully clearing Treasury trades from Wednesday and repurchase agreements (repo) financing trades from Thursday.
- The Treasury market seemed to operate normally on Thursday, indicating a swift recovery from the disruption.
Some history of Ransomware attack:
- The first ever recorded use of ransomware occurred as early as 1989 in the form of the AIDS Trojan,
- However, this method gained prominence only after the unleashing of the WannaCry Ransomware in 2017. This was a massive attack that affected more than 200,000 systems in some 150 countries and accounted for a loss of several million dollars.
- Since then, the use of ransomware attacks has seen an upward trend for committing cyber-crime.
What are some safeguards available in India against Cyber Threats
- Information Technology Act, 2000 (Amended in 2008): It is the main law for dealing with cybercrime and digital commerce in India.
- National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre (NCIIPC) was created under Section 70A of IT Act 2000 to protect Cyber infrastructure.
- CERT-In (Cyber Emergency Response Team, India): It is National Nodal Agency for Cyber Security and is Operational since 2004
- National Cyber Security Policy, 2013: The policy provides the vision and strategic direction to protect the national cyberspace.
- Cyber Swachhta Kendra: Cyber Swachhta Kendra helps users to analyse and keep their systems free of various viruses, bots/ malware, Trojans,
- Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C): Launched in 2018, It is an apex coordination center to deal with cybercrimes.
- Cyber Surakshit Bharat: It was launched by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in 2018 with the aim to spread awareness about cybercrime and building capacity for safety measures for Chief Information Security Officers and frontline IT staff across all government departments.
- The Cyber Warrior Police Force: It was organised on the lines of the Central Armed Police Force in 2018.
Section: Places in News
Context: ‘Corpses on streets’: Sudan’s RSF kills 1,300 in Darfur, monitors say
Why in news:
- Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) besieged a camp for displaced people on November 2 after attacking a nearby army base in West Darfur. Over the next three days, the paramilitary group committed what may amount to the single largest mass killing since the civil war erupted in April.
- Local monitors told about 1,300 people were killed, 2,000 injured and 310 remain missing.
- Mostly killed are Masalit people
- The Masalit are an ethnic group who reside mainly in Chad and Darfur in Sudan.
When did it start?
On April 15th, 2023, violent clashes erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan, resulting in the displacement of over 3.3 million people, including internally displaced people (IDPs), asylum seekers and refugees. This conflict exacerbated many of Sudan’s existing challenges, including ongoing conflicts, disease outbreaks, economic and political instability and climate emergencies.
A history of ethnic cleansing
- For decades, Sudan’s central government neglected non-Arab farmers and Arab pastoralists in Darfur, pushing them to compete for fertile land and dwindling water resources.
- Former President Omar al-Bashir exacerbated these tensions by pitting tribes against each other as part of a divide-and-rule strategy. In 2003, he armed Arab tribal militias and tasked them with crushing a mostly non-Arab rebellion, which started with protests against Darfur’s economic and political marginalisation.
- About 300,000 people died in combat as well as from famine and disease brought on by the conflict. Rights groups and the UN accused these government-backed militias – known to victims as the janjaweed, or “devils on horseback” – of carrying out ethnic cleansing.
- Between 2003 and 2008, Khartoum supported the Janjaweed Arab militias to put down rebel groups in Darfur, whose members included Masalits, leading to widespread abuses against civilians. Around 300,000 people were killed and over 2 million were displaced in the region in this time period.
- The RSF grew in large part out of the Janjaweed militias.
Within Sudan, 4.5 million people have been internally displaced since April, when the war began, while 1.2 million have fled to neighbouring countries like Chad, Egypt, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic (CAR). The overwhelming majority of the refugees (in some cases, as in the CAR, nearly 90 per cent) are women and children.
Recent fighting in the Darfur region has caused even more displacement with thousands of people struggling to find shelter and many sleeping under trees by the roadside. We are very concerned about them not having access to food, shelter, clean drinking water or other basic essentials.