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John Keells launches Digital Learning Initiative to support online education of school children

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John Keells Foundation (JKF) launched the pilot of John Keells Praja Shakthi Digital Learning Initiative on 11th November 2021 in Ranala. As a medium-term response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project aims to facilitate online based learning of disadvantaged school children who are preparing for public examinations in the midst of the pandemic and mitigate the increase in inequalities in accessing educational opportunities.

The pilot project involves the distribution of a total of 100 Samsung A8 tabs and data packages to selected O’Level and A’Level students in John Keells Praja Shakthi locations in Colombo 2 and Ranala for the duration of the respective course of study. JKF is partnered in this initiative by Deutsche Bank as co-funder and John Keells Office Automation (JKOA) and Dialog Axiata PLC as suppliers of devices and data packages respectively at concessionary rates. Elephant House was the logistics partner for the Ranala event.

During the simple event held at the Elephant House Factory in Ranala in compliance with COVID-19 protocols, 50 tabs were distributed to selected O’Level students from four government schools, namely, Dedigamuwa K.V, Dewamitta M.V, Munidasa Kumarathunga Vidyalaya and Philip Thilakawardhane M.V.

Addressing the gathering, JKF’s Head of Operations, Ms. Carmeline Jayasuriya said, “John Keells Foundation decided to initiate this project taking into account the numerous hardships faced by school children, especially in examination years, to pursue their education amidst the pandemic including school closures and the challenges in accessing online education due to the unaffordability of devices and data. We are delighted to be partnered by responsible corporates such as Deutsche Bank, JKOA and Dialog Axiata in this pilot initiative. Whilst all of us consider this as an investment on the education of our youth, we firmly hope that you, the beneficiary students, will optimize this opportunity to pursue your educational endeavours responsibly.”

The event was also graced by Chathura Mihidum, Divisional Secretary, Kaduwela, Ms. Anuradha Samarakoon, Divisional Education Director, Ranala, Daminda Gamlath, John Keells Group President – Consumer Foods, Sanjeewa Jayasundara, CCS’ Head of Operations – Supply Chain, Pasan Jayasinghe – Vice President Deutsche Bank and Harsha De Zoysa – Senior Sector Manager, Large Enterprise, Dialog Axiata PLC.

The distribution to Colombo students took place on 22nd November at Cinnamon Grand, the logistics partner for the event.

The project is designed so that tabs will be re-pooled after the completion of the recipients’ study course to benefit another cohort of deserving students. To ensure the due use of the device and enhance the impact of this intervention, JKF will be monitoring the educational progress of the students through the school principals as well as backend mechanisms.

John Keells Praja Shakthi is a sustainable community empowerment project initiated by JKF in and around the John Keells Group’s business locations through strategic interventions. The multistakeholder collaboration on the new project is a testament to the strength of partnerships in empowering communities through sustainable initiatives.

Education is one of the six focus areas of John Keells Foundation – the CSR entity of John Keells Holdings PLC (JKH), a company listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange operating over 70 companies in 7 diverse industry sectors. With a history of over 150 years, John Keells Group provides employment to over 14,000 persons and has been ranked as Sri Lanka’s ‘Most Respected Entity’ for the last 16 Years by LMD Magazine. Whilst being a full member of the World Economic Forum and a Participant of the UN Global Compact, JKH drives its CSR vision of “Empowering the Nation for Tomorrow” through John Keells Foundation and through the social entrepreneurship initiative,

‘Plasticcycle’, which is a catalyst in significantly reducing plastic pollution in Sri Lanka.



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Ransomware menace plagues Sri Lankan businesses: Kaspersky

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A total of 2,650 ransomware incidents were detected and blocked by Kaspersky cybersecurity solutions for businesses in Sri Lanka from January to December 2023.

Experts from the global cybersecurity company insist on organisations, regardless of shape and size, to beef up their IT security posture as ransomware, especially the targeted type, continues to be a damaging menace for organisations in the region.

“The era of widespread mass attacks by encryptors on both individuals and businesses is gradually fading away. Instead, we are witnessing a shift towards organised groups that execute hacks involving data theft and encryption, commonly referred to as double extortion. The rationale behind this evolution lies in the perpetrators’ ability to operate with greater efficiency, thereby enabling them to demand significantly higher ransom sums,” says Fedor Sinitsyn, Lead Malware Analyst at Kaspersky.

Last year, ransomware incidents in Sri Lanka include the compromise of 5,000 government-related emails as well as attacks on telecom servers.

“It’s evident that the threat actors behind ransomware attacks target all sectors in Sri Lanka. The total number of attempts may be low, but organisations need to realise the real impact of each successful ransomware infection, both on the financial and reputation fronts. It’s imperative for businesses here to look into cybersecurity technologies that provide absolute anti-ransomware effectiveness in third-party exams. Because not all cybersecurity solutions are created equal,” Yeo Siang Tiong, General Manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky.

Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business, Kaspersky Small Office Security and Kaspersky Standard demonstrated complete protection against ransomware in 10 different real-life attack scenarios during regular Advanced Threat Protection assessments held by AV-TEST.

To combat ransomware and assist those affected, Kaspersky, alongside Europol, the Dutch National Police, and others has the No More Ransom initiative, launched in 2016. On the official website, participants provide decryption tools, guidelines, and instructions to report cybercrimes, irrespective of the location of the incident.

By the end of 2023, Kaspersky marked the seventh anniversary as a key contributor to the No More Ransom initiative. This period witnessed expanded access to Kaspersky’s free decryption tools, in line with its commitment to combating ransomware. These tools, targeting 39 ransomware families, have been integral in assisting nearly 2 million victims globally, as reported by Europol, underscoring the profound impact of the No More Ransom initiative supported by Kaspersky.

To protect yourself and your business from ransomware attacks, consider following the rules proposed by Kaspersky experts:

Do not expose remote desktop/management services (such as RDP, MSSQL, etc.) to public networks unless absolutely necessary and always use strong passwords, two-factor authentication and firewall rules for them.

Promptly install available patches for commercial VPN solutions providing access for remote employees and acting as gateways in your network.

Always keep software updated on all the devices you use to prevent ransomware from exploiting vulnerabilities.

Focus your defense strategy on detecting lateral movements and data exfiltration to the Internet. Pay special attention to the outgoing traffic to detect cybercriminals’ connections.

Back up data regularly with special attention to offline backup strategies. Make sure you can quickly access it in an emergency when needed.

Avoid downloading and installing pirated software or software from unknown sources.

Assess and audit your supply chain and managed services’ access to your environment.

Prepare an action plan for reputational risk of your data exposure in the unfortunate event of data theft.

Use solutions like Kaspersky Endpoint Detection and Response Expert and Kaspersky Managed Detection and Response service which help to identify and stop the attack on early stages, before attackers reach their final goals.

To protect the corporate environment, educate your employees. Dedicated training courses can help, such as the ones provided in the Kaspersky Automated Security Awareness Platform.

Use the latest Threat Intelligence information to stay aware of actual TTPs used by threat actors. The Kaspersky Threat Intelligence Portal is a single point of access for Kaspersky’s TI, providing cyberattack data and insights gathered by our team for over 26 years.

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IDB and MOI organize National Vehicle Parade with all domestically value-added vehicles

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A vehicle parade of locally manufactured and assembled vehicles organized by the Industrial Development Board (IDB) along with the Ministry of Industries (MOI), Sri Lanka Automobile Component Manufacturers Association (SLACMA) and Automobile Assemblers Association will be held for the third time, through Galle Face, Lotus Roundabout , Fort, Technical Junction, Punchikawatta, Maradana, Borella, Borella cemetery junction and to BMICH on June 18, 2024 from 4pm onwards. The IDB under the Ministry of Industries is a key stakeholder in the Standard Operating Procedure which facilitates automobile assembly and component manufacturing in the country. The roadshow will see a fleet of over 200 locally assembled vehicles parade the streets.

Chairman of Industrial Development Board Dr. Saranga Alahapperuma stated, “The IDB which is the statutory body responsible for the development of all industries in Sri Lanka, has a mission to provide the strategic, technological and commercial foundation needed to encourage, promote and develop all industries in the country. Hyundai, Proton, Chery, BAIC, DFSK, Wuling, Mahindra, TATA, JMC, Lanka Ashok Leyland, TVS and Bajaj are few of the brands that are assembled in Sri Lanka with the approval and certification of the Industrial Development Board.”

The services of the IDB are of great benefit to the automobile and auto component manufacturing and automobile assembly industry in the country.

It is the authority responsible for overseeing the auto component development, design, testing and certification for industries, automotive component costing and process/product optimization services, raw material testing and selection for automotive components, plant, machinery, equipment, tool appraisal and valuation and incubator facilities for automotive component developers. It is also the national tooling center for automotive component development and provides services such as foundry and metallurgy services for automotive component developers, technical inspection services, rubber compound development for automotive components and electro-plating services for automotive components through a network of district offices covering the entire island.

The IDB also provides industrialists with industry information services, incubator facilities, and even an electricity subsidy.

“The facilities provided by the IDB will help create a very favorable environment for the automobile manufacturing and assembly industry and the automotive component manufacturing industry to match world standards. The Sri Lanka Automobile Component Manufacturers Association (SLACMA) and Automobile Assemblers Association both are committed to help organize the Vehicle Parade annually, to whom which I thank for their efforts.” Alahapperuma said.

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Q+ Payment App goes trilingual to further facilitate payments for the masses

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Highlights of the launch events in Nittambuwa and Jaffna,

‘Q+ Payment App’ – the first LankaQR certified mobile payment app in Sri Lanka – has gone trilingual with the launch of its groundbreaking Sinhala and Tamil versions at twin events held in Nittambuwa and Jaffna respectively.

Powered by the Commercial Bank of Ceylon, the Q+ Payment App is now available in the preferred language of the user, making the App and its payment options available to a much wider customer base covering the entire island.

The launch of the Sinhala version of Q+ Payment App took place at the Nihal Fashions complex in Nittambuwa, and was supported with a Cashback offer for QR payments for purchases from the merchant, the Bank said. The event was attended by the Head of the ComBank Card Centre Mr Nishantha De Silva, the Bank’s Regional Manager – Colombo Metro Mr Hemantha Sooriyabandara, branch managers from the area, and the management and staff of Nihal’s Group.

The Tamil version of Q+ Payment App was launched at TCT Multi Trade Centre in Jaffna, also with the participation of the Bank’s Head of Card Centre Mr Nishantha De Silva, Regional Manager – Northern Mr A. Jeyabalan, several branch managers and senior Bank staff from the region and the management and staff of TCT Multi Trade Centre.

Positioned as the next dimension of payment options, the Q+ Payment App enables cardholders to pay through multiple payment options via their mobile phones including ‘Scan & Pay’ by scanning the merchant’s QR code. Since the launch, the app has undergone numerous functionality-enhancing upgrades. Besides all the multiple payment options it offers, Q+ Payment App has also been enabled for different methods of fund transfers and scheduled payment options supported by year-round attractive Cashback offers, promotions and lifestyle events.

Q+ Payment App is the only QR payment app in Sri Lanka that supports six types of QR codes – LankaQR, VisaQR, MastercardQR, UnionPayQR, Indian UPIQR & Alipay QR. It was adjudged the Best Mobile App for Retail Payments in Sri Lanka for the last two years by LankaPay.

Sri Lanka’s first 100% carbon neutral bank, Commercial Bank is the largest private sector bank in Sri Lanka and the first Sri Lankan bank to be listed among the Top 1000 Banks of the World.

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