Sushobhan Mukherjee


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Beware of Sarahah App

Preface

Sarahah is a website created by the developer from Saudi Arabia Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq. Sarahah means candor and honesty. It has become very popular in very short time because it allows you to send messages anonymously. After registration, you got a link which you can share your friends or post it publicly. Any person can send anonymous messages using via the link you have shared.

The receiver cannot find who sent the message. The services started by the motive to allow employees to give feedback to the higher authority or employers without any fear of being fired. After getting a positive response, a mobile app is also launched to expand its huge mobile audience. After getting a positive response, he also launched a mobile app to expand its huge mobile audience. On June 13 of this year, both its iOS and Android versions of Sarahah was also released.

Sarahah was designed to be used in a workspace environment as an anonymous way to get a bit of constructive criticism. The website’s tag line reads “Get honest feedback from your coworkers and friends”. In addition, there is a dedicated section on the site about how Sarahah can be helpful at work.

But Sarahah is topping the download charts because of teenagers who are currently on summer vacation. Teenagers are putting up links on their Snapchats to get the word out.

How does Sarahah app work?

– You need to download this app and set up your profile with a custom url (For e.g, XYZ.sarahah.com)

– After registering, you will get four options:

  • Messages (consists details of your sent, received and favorited messages)
  • Search
  • Explore (work in progress)
  • Profile

– Once you log in, you can search other friends or users you want send messages to.

– Upon selecting, a message box appears, prompting the user to ‘leave a constructive message’.

– Those who want to comment can press the send button. Currently it allows only texts as messages and no graphics.

Features:

  • Sarahah is unique in a couple of ways. Previous anonymous apps like Yik Yak were more of social networks. Someone could post something anonymously and anyone (either close by or online) could read the post. This is why Yik Yak was ultimately used for bullying and negative remarks. However, in Sarahah, the user is actually soliciting feedback by signing up for an account and creating the link. They’re also then deciding where to share the link so that only specific people can have access to it. The combination of these two features has so far kept the interactions as mostly positive.
  • Unlike previews anonymous messaging apps, a user creates an account, produces a link and shares it with people on social media sites. Both users who are registered or not registered on Sarahah can leave a comment for the user anonymously.
  • The Sarahah not only provides all essential features for anonymous messaging but privacy features also. By default, you are set to do not appear in search and non-registered users cannot send you messages.
  • Sarahah provides more control to its users to the user to prevent misuse or cyber bullying which mostly happen with anonymous messaging services.
  • According to the website, the intention behind the app was to strengthen the areas for improvement and enhance areas of strength. It could make drastic changes and improvement to make better professional environment if implemented everywhere.

Concerns:

Sarahah was created in the Middle East as a way for co-workers to anonymously share feedback about each other, in a region where face-to-face confrontation is not socially acceptable. Protect Young Minds goes on to say that Sarahah skyrocketed in popularity due to a new SnapChat feature that allows users to share links within their snaps. Once SnapChat users started linking to Sarahah, it went from #1500 on the iTunes charts to #1 in just 12 days.

The anonymous messaging is the convertible thing from when it has begun. Most of the people use it as a medium to threaten others. This kind of apps is used by cyber-bullies or frauds. Many Sarah users have reported the inappropriate or abusive messages.

The advent of “smart” technology has made parenting for our generation more challenging than ever before. By many, they are viewed as “fun,” “normal,” and “no big deal.” Sadly, when it comes to social media that is FAR from the truth. After reading over the weekend about the newest app, that is a threat to our kids mental and social health.

We need to know about Sarahah:

  • Anonymity within apps breeds bullying and predatory behavior. Anonymity is a great enabler for those who seek to do wrong and for immature teens who do not have good impulse control.
  • The foreign app makes it very difficult for law enforcement to find and prosecute those responsible if the app is used for illegal behavior like grooming potential victims or masquerading as a teen in order to get someone to meet you in real life. Other apps like Ask.fm and Kik are foreign-owned and this has proved to be a huge challenge as well.
  • The Access can be blocked. The parents need to prevent access to the iTunes App store and Google Play to control an app like Sarahah

Think and apply your mind before being flown with the trend!

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Data Leakage using Social Fun App

“What was the old age?”

“Who is your favorite friend?”

“How many lovers you have?”

“Which celebrity looks alike you?”

“Who will kill you?”

Do you feel you have heard these questions several times in recent past? Yes you are right. This are the questions and answers generate by a Fun App Named “Testony” (https://en.testony.com/ ). There are few more similar fun Apps like Nametest (https://en.nametests.com/), http://en.quizzstar.com/, https://sharmin.me/ , http://meawquiz.com/ and so on. Out of these Testony seems to be more popular as facebook got flooded with the output results.

How do these Apps work? They want to get some access permissions mainly Facebook (or similar social applications) and in return they get useful datas like email, message, contacts, profile, about, date of birth etc. In some cases, you have to log in to Facebook and have to apply the application to an approved application, so your information can be seen by all those applications, so it is not impossible to know the password with backend scripts.

Did you ever think how collection or leakage of data has become a cakewalk with this revolutionary marketing intelligence. This is a Honey Trap where using social media, using funny Apps, unknowingly all information and information about the persons are getting collected with user’s consent. These kind of Apps are nothing but an algorithmic Data Collection Software with various sample sizes, segments, across the globe.

Mostly everyone have been trapped by this for only getting fun. Unintentionally, all your online information, content, email lists, phonebooks, surfing patterns, browsing history are being collected by an unknown third party and being retained in their repository. Do they have any accountability? What do we know about the millions of information that they are getting used to? There is no guarantee of spamming or hacking using this information?

It is clearly defined in “Testony” site that they can use your information in business. You might get newsletters, mails, SMS as a part of Targeted advertisement for several products. This is applicable for the countries of America and Europe though nothing explicitly defined for India and other countries.

We are laughing with the friends about it, but how we are putting ourselves to the danger zone by revealing all personal data to the hacker.

Hacking/Phishing from these informations may be a child’s play for a hacker.

Immediate Resolution

To keep yourself on a safe side follow these steps to secure yourself :

  1. Hide all the testony app posts from your timeline.
  2. If you already have used this app then you must have to change your password immediately. If your Facebook email and passwords are interrelated with any email or etc then you must change that as well.
  3. Now go to applications settings tab on your Facebook account and remove that app from your list.

  1. But as you will be able to see a note there: Testony.com may still have the data you shared with them. For details about removing this data, please contact testony.com or visit the testony.com privacy policy.

 

Way Forward

We all see daydream. Everyone would love to be compared with a Super Hero, A Politician, A sportsman, A historic character. And then you feel proud or overwhelmed while getting likes/comments in social media with emotions.

We are being flooded to enough Internet data, but we need to learn to use it, rather to avoid misuse of it.

Time has come to be careful and do not share your valuable and secret information to any third party in this manner.


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Terrifying Cyber Crime Through ‘Blue Whale Challenge’

Preface

Trust you have already heard about the death game named ‘Blue Whale Challenge’. The same is in news in India post the suicide incident of a Kid in Mumbai, India.

The “Suicide Game” involves 50 twisted tasks before taking your own life to “win.”

A 14-year-old Manpreet Singh, a Class IX student in Mumbai, India flung himself from the roof of a seven-story building on Saturday in order to win a terrifying game that is apparently spreading around the world.

According to the Mumbai police, the boy is India’s first reported Blue Whale Challenge casualty.

Summary of the Game

  • 130 teenagers are already victim of this online game! Most of them are aged between 14 to 18 years old.
  • There are total 50 levels in the Game before you win. Game starts with funny activities, which can easily attract and attach your mind. But as the level of the game progresses, the more the task is to be terrifying.
  • Some terrifying steps are drawing blue whale with blades in your body, watching horror movie or a murdered video at 4.30am in the morning, and At the end, the 50th task is to jump from the top roof of the house.
  • Once this gaming app is downloaded to the mobile, it cannot be deleted in any way. Moreover, the continuous mobile notifications forces the mobile user to play this game.
  • The game started in Russia. 21-year-old Philippe Vicontacte was the admin of a social media page called “Blue Whale Suicide Game”, was the prime suspect for this death game and finally police arrested him. According to Police, Philip confessed of conducting the game. Unfortunately, his philosophy was to correct the society through his game. He was proud to say that his goal was to push those who should not live in the society, to push them to death.

Insight

Drugs, games and porn are the three major addiction for teens. This addiction is a rampant and children usually begin getting obsessed at the ages of 10-12. Cellphones usually serve as the conduit. Usually when studies get difficult, children tend to gravitate towards the Web and get enticed into all the wrong stuff.

Teenagers undergo hormonal changes and hormones take over their intelligence. Even if parents are caring and available for them, they will want to do something thrilling. Also, social media has gained so much popularity that children want to become famous through social popularity. They want a lot of attention so they indulge in this popularity stunt.

Teenagers are more vulnerable because the virtual world allows them to act freely, without the restrictions prevalent in the real world.

It has been observed that some teenagers have very low self-esteem, and rely significantly on peer approval. For them, the external environment becomes a source of inspiration, which is why they are willing to do anything to (project) a certain image.

Developers of such games are well aware of the vulnerabilities of the teenagers and know that they succumb to peer pressure easily. They are also well aware of the fact that teenagers nowadays are finding themselves unhappy, directionless and lacking goals

The worse part of the games like Blue Whale is that the creators of the group do not allow participants to leave. Hence it is important that parents teach their children about safe online behavior. Users, especially teens should exercise more caution before sharing any personal information such as their address on their profile because this gives cyber criminals a chance to bully and threaten them. Also, users should be more careful before joining vague groups, as their online footsteps can be tracked.

Conclusion

The ideal way for parents to keep children away from games like Blue Whale and other hazardous temptations is to invest more time with teenagers. Always keep a close watch on what your adolescent does on their social media sites and the internet.

Are you sure your child does not get dressed up in the middle of the night or does not want to catch you in the early hours for the last time, before jumping down the empty pails from the roof?

Let’s talk with our little ones, spend time with them as friend. Let us try to mix with them through Physical Games, Stories, Sudden Trips, Week End Shopping together.

Cyber-crime is not about only losing some money in bank, loosing mail passwords, wasting some data on ransomware. Issue is more serious as it is related to our lives. Our next generations, human minds are now targeted.

It is high time to react before it crashes.


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Resolution for WannaCry ransomware

What has happened?

UK hospitals, Telefonica, FedEx, and other businesses were hit by a massive ransomware attack on last Friday (12-05-2017). Around 75,000 computers in 99 countries were affected by malware known as “WannaCry”, which encrypts a computer and demands a $300 ransom before unlocking it. The malware was able to spread thanks to flaws in old versions of Windows that were originally used by the NSA to hack into PCs before being made public by the Shadow Brokers group last month.

Among those infected were more than a dozen hospitals in England, a telecom in Spain, FedEx’s offices in the United Kingdom, and apparently, the Russian Interior Ministry. Within half a day, there were instances detected on six continents.

Several firms in Europe were the first to report having their mission-critical Windows systems locked, showing a ransom note. This quickly developed into one of the most widespread ransomware outbreaks currently affecting a large number of organizations around the world. Some affected organizations had to take their IT infrastructure offline, with victims in the healthcare industry experiencing delayed operations and forced to turn away patients until processes could be re-established.

Brief on WannaCry ransomware

WannaCry/Wcry ransomware is a relatively new ransomware variant which has been popped up using the file hosting service Dropbox. This comes on the heels of a Torrent Locker variant that was using abused Dropbox accounts to spread its payload.

Wcry initially spreads via an email, a malicious website, or dropped by another malware. Once the malware gains access to a user’s system, it drops its prerequisite files and components, after which it prompts the user to download files from Dropbox URLs (Dropbox has already been notified of these links, which have since been removed). These files include the TOR Browser Bundle and the executable file “!WannaDecryptor!.exe”. If the user clicks on the executable file, Wcry will display the ransom note shown below:

Who are affected?

This variant of the WannaCry ransomware attacks older Windows-based systems, and is leaving a trail of significant damage in its wake. Europe has the highest detections for the WannaCry ransomware. The Middle East, Japan, and several countries in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region showing substantial infection rates as well.

WannaCry’s infections were seen affecting various enterprises, including those in healthcare, manufacturing, energy (oil and gas), technology, food and beverage, education, media and communications, and government. Due to the widespread nature of this campaign, it does not appear to be targeting specific victims or industries.

What does WannaCry ransomware do?

WannaCry ransomware targets and encrypts 176 file types. Some of the file types WannaCry targets are database, multimedia and archive files, as well as Office documents. In its ransom note, which supports 27 languages, it initially demands US$300 worth of Bitcoins from its victims—an amount that increases incrementally after a certain time limit. The victim is also given a seven-day limit before the affected files are deleted—a commonly used fear-mongering tactic.

WannaCry leverages CVE-2017-0144, a vulnerability in Server Message Block, to infect systems. The security flaw is attacked using an exploit leaked by the Shadow Brokers group—the “EternalBlue” exploit, in particular. Microsoft’s Security Response Center (MSRC) Team addressed the vulnerability via MS17-010 released March, 2017.

What makes WannaCry’s impact pervasive is its capability to propagate. Its worm-like behavior allows WannaCry to spread across networks, infecting connected systems without user interaction. All it takes is for one user on a network to be infected to put the whole network at risk. WannaCry’s propagation capability is reminiscent of ransomware families like SAMSAM, HDDCryptor, and several variants of Cerber—all of which can infect systems and servers connected to the network.

Observations

The malware is using the MS17-010 exploit to distribute itself. This is a SMB vulnerability with remote code execution options – details: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/security/ms17-010.aspx.

With MS17-010, the attacker can use just one exploit to get remote access with system privileges to copy payload to and transfer control to it later.

By remotely gaining control over victim PC with system privileges without any user action, the attacker can spray this malware in local network by having control over one system inside this network (get control over all system which is not fixed and affected by this vulnerability) and that one system will spread the ransomware in this case all over the Windows systems vulnerable and not patched to MS17-010.

Behavior:

By using command-line commands, the Volume Shadow copies and backups are removed:

Cmd /c vssadmin delete shadows /all /quiet & wmic shadowcopy delete & bcdedit /set {default} bootstatuspolicy ignoreallfailures & bcdedit /set {default} recoveryenabled no & wbadmin delete catalog -quiet

File-size of the ransomware is 3.4 MB (3514368 bytes)

Authors called the ransomware “WANNACRY” – string hardcoded in samples.

Ransomware is writing itself into a random character folder in the ‘ProgramData folder with the file name of “tasksche.exe’ or in C:\Windows\ folder with the file-name ‘mssecsvc.exe’ and ‘tasksche.exe’.

Examples:

C:\ProgramData\lygekvkj256\tasksche.exe

C:\ProgramData\pepauehfflzjjtl340\tasksche.exe

C:/ProgramData/utehtftufqpkr106/tasksche.exe

c:\programdata\yeznwdibwunjq522\tasksche.exe

C:/ProgramData/uvlozcijuhd698/tasksche.exe

C:/ProgramData/pjnkzipwuf715/tasksche.exe

C:/ProgramData/qjrtialad472/tasksche.exe

c:\programdata\cpmliyxlejnh908\tasksche.exe

Ransomware is granting full access to all files by using the command:

Icacls . /grant Everyone:F /T /C /Q

Using a batch script for operations: 176641494574290.bat 

What can we do?

WannaCry highlights the real-life impact of ransomware: crippled systems, disrupted operations, marred reputations, and the financial losses resulting from being unable to perform normal business functions—not to mention the cost of incident response and clean up.

Here are some of the solutions and best practices that organizations can adopt and implement to safeguard their systems from threats like WannaCry:

Patching

  • The ransomware exploits a vulnerability in SMB server. Patching is critical for defending against attacks that exploit security flaws. A patch for this issue is available for Windows systems, including those no longer supported by Microsoft. Here is the patch details from Microsoft.
  • Additional patches for older OS’es not already included in main MS17-010 bulletin above (http://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/Search.aspx?q=KB4012598)
  • Upgrade from obsolete Windows versions to the latest one. In case there is a concern about commercials, you may easily migrate to linux environment.
  • In case there is old hardwares (which does not support latest windows version), then better to go for desktop virtualization (thin client/zero client) so that next operation/management strategies will be better.
  • The WannaCry ransomware appears to only attack unpatched computers running Windows 10. But this doesn’t mean those whose computers run on Apple or Linux code should feel smug. They, too, should regularly update with software patches as they’re issued.

Endpoint and Gateway Security

  • Ensure Desktop/Laptop/Mobile devices are protected with antivirus, personal firewall, antimalware etc. If possible, it is better to go for total protection from an OEM, which are already internationally bench-marked.
  • Deploying firewalls and intrusion detection / prevention systems can help reduce the spread of this threat. WannaCry reportedly also uses spam as entry point. Identifying red flags on socially engineered spam emails that contain system exploits helps. IT and system administrators should deploy security mechanisms that can protect endpoints from email-based malware
  • A security system and practice must be deployed for continuous monitoring and management for proactively action on potential attacks in the network.
  • WannaCry drops several malicious components in the system to conduct its encryption routine. Application control based on a whitelist can prevent unwanted and unknown applications from executing. Behavior monitoring can block unusual modifications to the system. Ransomware uses a number of techniques to infect a system; defenders should do the same to protect their systems

Regular Backup

  • Ransomware will target the files and software in your system. So it is best to keep them backed up regularly. The best way to protect them offline using external harddisk somewhere away from the reach of the internet.
  • Incase backup is taken on cloud; the backup mechanism should run on intervals. It should not be always connected.
  • Ransomware infects at the system level. Hence complete backup of your Windows OS will also be helpful

Connectivity

  • Ransomware attacks are all through the internet. Hence it is essential to have a control on the path between your computer and the Internet.
  • WannaCry encrypts files stored on local systems and network shares. Implementing data categorization helps mitigate any damage incurred from a breach or attack by protecting critical data in case they are exposed
  • Network segmentation can also help prevent the spread of this threat internally. Good network design can help contain the spread of this infection and reduce its impact on organizations.
  • Whenever connectivity is not needed, the path should be closed or connectivity should be disconnected.
  • When you’re using public WiFi networks, make sure you tell your system that you’re on a public network (many will ask if it’s a public or home computer.) That tells your operating system that it’s functioning in a potentially threat-filled environment and it will close off some of its more vulnerable software ports to the outside.

Proactive Measures instead of Reactive

This is not end of it. Rather more destructive versions will be popping up soon. Hence remediation of present threat will not give us a resolution. Security is a journey, not a resolutions. Hence below measures should give us some breathing space:

  1. Network and Application Audit on regular intervals (vulnerability Assessment and penetration testing)
  2. 3rd Party Risk Assessment and Business Continuity Planning
  3. Information Security Process Adherence as per international bench-marking , certification, compliance and regular governance.
  4. Remediation as per GAP Analysis continuous basis
  5. Deployment of tools and technologies for proactive measures.
  6. Close harmony between people-process and tools.


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Retrospection of Present Recruitment Problems – PART I

Off late, we are observing humongous problems in recruitment. Getting resources, make them work, retain them, get them motivated. Let it be start-up, larger organization, situations are same everywhere. In this blog I will try to search answers and retrospect the root cause. All cannot be written in single blog. Hence, I will try to document it through few episodes.

No respect to work:

We have a gardener at home who comes in morning and feeds water to plants in the garden every day with a monthly contract. He takes weekly off on Friday.  One of the week recently, he took a leave on Thursday for a medical checkup of his wife and was reluctant to adjust it with his weekly off on Friday (which was just the next day). But he continued to be absconding on the following Saturday and Sunday as well. Suddenly he appeared on Sunday afternoon to inform that tomm onwards he would continue as usual in the morning. The answer as justification of his absence during Saturday took my blood off. He said he did not turn up for the reason that he was not feeling to work on a Bengali new year’s day ( yes, the Saturday 15th April, 2017 was the kick off of Bengali new year 1424) in order to prevent  his hard work during every day of the proceedings days of the year.

2nd incident was also took place today. Two aspiring drivers came to meet me today as was searching for a new regular driver. He expressed all his expectations like he needs INR 12K as monthly salary on 12hrs working for 6 days a week, more than 12hrs, per hrs overtime charge INR 40, in case some Sunday he needs to work, he will work on extra money as per prevailing Driver Center charges, He will be charging for Rs.3 per km for outstation travel where lodging/boarding etc will be extra on actual. His bonus will be one month’s salary during Puja. In final notes he concluded that the driving job is very tedious job where he has been on the field, staying all the day with the cab, very tiring for out stations, as he has to drive so long. What he tried to mean was even after so many troubles he was favoring myself by charging so little, rather he had accepted the hardworking, suffering for me only to help me.

There are enough examples like this and I can write several books now on similar real life examples ( I am actually  documenting this in “Fools’ Walk” series of books along with my coauthor Pritam).

Both the examples above clearly indicates the vision of a job aspirant or an employee/worker towards a job which feeds him/her money for the survival. Unless you love it, think it is priority, feels from the heart it is important for your family, the result can never be best. The outcome will be percentage output; there will be always distance/unhappy feeling with the employer and in effect most of the times wicket falls.

lollipop Generation

The headline is being qued from one the senior fellow Entrepreneur. This is more applicable for the present generation youth. In present era, there is one or two kids in a nuclear family. Parents have always been protective, possessive and primitive. The social economic standing enforces for best schooling, branded cloth, gadgets, gaming console, and loads of extracurricular activities to have a bight future for the kids. But the too protective pampered environment makes them relaxed, less hard-working, less competent to handle real life situations, inclined towards struggle free life.

There were situations where people declined to visit Arunachal ( north-eastern state of india) since their parents did not approve them going that far and in a disturbed terrain like this ( I really do not know why and how Arunachal  becomes a disturbed terrain). Even there have been instances where people preferred to resign instead of opting an out location travel to Baharampur (in the district of Murshidabad, West Bengal.).

You might have seen latest “Parle” advertisements where teacher called mother to complain about the child behavior in class. The mother was questioned incase if she was about the same and surprisingly she countered that even sir is unaware about the biscuits for parents and kid are manufactured by same biscuit company. Useless advertisement, but reveals true retrospection of the society where teacher can be further questioned in front of the student. That is reason even a teacher slaps a student in class for wrong behaviour,  the same may lead to a police case, media story and personal life threat for the teacher outside school territory.

This philosophy getting started from grassroots stage, will surely impact future professional  life as well.

Entrepreneurship :

Now a days buzz of Entrepreneurship is flowing almost everywhere. All colleges, universities, associations, government, even corporations are floating schemes, facilities,  mentoring, funding, incubation to manufacture entrepreneurs to have self-sufficient independent youth to stand on their feet without any job. But unfortunately that does not happen.  Entrepreneurship does not only about just popping out an idea, but to execute the idea, build teams, sell the product/services to customers and earn money, manage funds, handle statutory, legal etc. More precisely entrepreneurship is not about riding on someone else’s money without any struggle, hard work. Rather the reverse rosy picture is being hallucinated that entrepreneurship is about free-flowing life where you can earn a lot of glories, lime light, fame, name etc without much of struggle.  And most of the people finally fail, but the mindset gets injected of a free-flowing, non-obligatory, hassle free, non-accountable lifestyle and in effect the youth do not get comfort to a job where they are answerable or bound by Kra/appraisal system.

That is also applicable for experienced ones. People are losing jobs every now and then. Few people are leaving jobs for bosses, salaries, exploitation by employers, adjustment with the culture, locational problems, office timings, salary disbursements delays and so many other things.  But the very interesting things most of them, first leave jobs and then search for options (those who had not lost job). Then after some time when they fail to get any suitable jobs, these people jumps into business in a “Me Too” model. Finally, most of them either fail or spoil the market by low pricing, desperation of orders, quoting without understanding and so on.

Finally, market dynamics gradually get evolved and in effect expectations from the aspiring job seekers change, which does not fit in to industry needs. In effect, the gap gets prolonged between employer and employee expectations.  And yes, end result yields retrenchment, resignation, leaving absconding etc disrupts business dynamics.

Choosing Job Options

In seven years of my business,  I did not find much of people interested in field jobs be it technical or sales. Everyone expressed inability of hard work in hot humid sunny days, rainy season, out location travel etc.

In a campus interview, we had selected 7 diploma engineers, 3 in technical and 4 in sales. All of them joined and that time we had tried to implement full HR process. Initial 15 days were full in-house training, before they will be placed for production. But after induction process of 15 days, Once the field visits started, 4 Sales guy disappeared by 7 days.  Out of 3 service guys 2 also vanished in 15 days for the reason of out-location travel (someone had to catch morning 6.30am train for a 4 hours journey on a site survey).

I have plenty full of incidents to explain the situation.  During interview for experienced ones, I found the latest trend to leave jobs first and then search for jobs. In effect almost any aspiring job seekers having 3 to 6 months break in career graph.

One of my friends referred me to Prakash two months back. Prakash’s mother works as a cook in my friend’s home. Prakash born and brought up in Bihar, but stays now in kolkata.  He comes with a very needy family background.  During face-to-face discussions, I liked him and decided to offer him the job. I continued discussion with him about his notice period in the present job (he was working in a domestic call canter for last 8months). Interestingly it was revealed that he could join immediately as his notice period was about to be over by next couple of days. I was wondering why he left a job without getting a suitable change. However, he kept me further surprised by the fact that he was rather having a job in his bucket and he was about to join there by coming week. My curiosity took an interrogative tone “Why you are further evaluating a job with us then?”. He said he did not find the culture, atmosphere of that organization very fitting for him, rather the organization was seemed to him as very fishy (that he discovered from few of his friends who were already working there).  “But why you resigned from your present job with this dilemma?” my curiosity continued. His answer was mind-boggling “Sir, I worked for so many days, thought of taking a break!”. My reply was instantaneous” What? You are working here only for 8 months, before that you took a 4 months break for your ear operation, Why you need a break again?”. He answered, “Sir, actually next month is my birthday. Thought of having party and other enjoyment in this month and then again search for a suitable job again”. I was speechless and please note neither a single line of discussion is cultivated nor a single iteration in the dialogue.

This section, I will finish with one more story, very latest (garden fresh).

After so many issues with work force, thought of discarding B Tech, diploma, MBA kind of resources and pursued a campus in government youth training where they teach very basics of computers for the people who could not succeed much in terms in their traditional career. Anyway after one such campus interview, selected one candidate for sales. He was good in communication, body language, attitude and approach. He had not problem in field visits. After selection in campus, we asked him to office next day for the final discussion. We further discussed about job scope, opportunities and off course explanations on field visits. But he was extremely positive and excited to join from the very next day. More interestingly, he posted a Facebook update post leaving office about excitement of getting a first job. But unfortunately he did neither join not intimated next day. Once we investigated through the Institute, we have been apprised that his parents did not approve a job for him where he had to spent time in field jobs in hot humid summer.

THIS IS NOT THE END OF IT, SO MANY OTHER FACTORS. WILL WRITE IN THE NEXT DAY.

(To be continued…..)

 


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Market Mystery

After Reliance JIO launch on October 2016, the entire telecom market in India is under some kind of turbulence. JIO had worked silently over last 3years to lay fibers even in remotest part of the country and using the gigabyte last mile capacity, introduced voice over data (volte). Not only that , they had introduced all possible services through these high capacity backbone like on demand video, live TV and literally became India’s only full-fledged streaming platform. Being an ex-telecom practitioner, I had personally experienced visionary steps by Tata Indicom way back in 2004, as I was also the part of the journey. However, the vision of triple play services using DSL /Metro Ethernet/Wireless last mile and backbone fiber data network could not be successful due to several strategic decisions. However, that is not the discussion point today and may be elaborated through a separate blog later. The point I was trying to make that JIO had not only shaken up their competitors, but also created a market disruption. The competitions are not facing challenges in offerings, but also prices. In effect, lot of different initiatives evolved like Vodafone and Idea planning for joint movement (either merger, or JV or some other strategy), Uninor and Aircel are moving out of the market by selling spectrum. Swan Telecom, Systema Shyam Telecom were already resigned from the market way. More precisely Telecom market is going a consolidation, convergence. This in effect will influence employment. Operators will look for low budget employment and less in quantity. In effect, the jobs of several senior resources in high salaries will become vulnerable. Today or tomorrow job retrenchment is bound to happen and new requirements will gradually be evaporated. Not only for telecom, but also for the telecom ancillaries like ZTE, Huawei, Ericsson etc. will experience the similar impact due to the change in demand for their customers. Gradually, the JIO launch is bound to affect television, cable TV, dishtv market as well. In effect same telecom disease is bound to influence there as well.
My discussion today is about employment situations today and tomorrow. In effect, I was forced to explain market situation as an introduction, before we drill down further.
This kind of situations are not new in the country. Trust you remember problems at aviation industry, Kingfisher, Air Deccan, Sahara collapsed, Jet Airways did optimizations. There was huge impacts due to money market Fiasco. In West Bengal, there were more than 300 money market companies with wide presence. There were minimum 1 lakh unemployment with the sudden shut down after Sardha, MPS, Rose Valley incidents.
We keep on herring job cuts, pink slips almost every now and then from the biggies. With the tremendous rise of internet-based media, there has been a severe impact in print media as well. The turbulence there, would surely affect employment.
My concern, consideration, doubt with the outcome of these completely unstable job situations. With the illustrations, till now in the previous sections, trust it is quite eminent fact that there are lot of people got unemployed in recent past. The numbers are not at all thin. More precisely, lot of unemployment happened in the top level (people with 40+ age) in senior positions. So the market is bound to be flooded with eligible candidates. Will the emergence of many institutions, there are huge numbers of freshly passed out candidates with the pool of retrenched senior employees.
However, it seems a vapor wire. While companies search for suitable candidates for employment, they hardly get people interested for job. Mostly aspiring employees are interested to get monthly thick ATM top-ups without much of tension, hard work, and struggle. In case job life is not easy going, free flowing, more accountability required with more ownership, people prefer leaving jobs and keeping the search on for the next launch pad. They are not bothered to stay back at home with lot of liabilities before they find one more stopgap engagement.
With the so much uncertainty in the market, why there is no hungry, desperate, job seekers?
I do not know the answer. Do you?

 


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Wordcon 2017 – International Freelancer Summit

Wordcon 2017, 2nd International Freelancer’s Conference was concluded last week on 9th February, 2017 (Thursday).  Our sincere thanks all delegates, speakers, panelists, media, partners, sponsors, volunteers to make Wordcon 2017 a grand success.

Wordcon aspires to build a collaborative platform of freelancers from various specialties, this very event is a fruit of collaboration of many freelancers, institutions, associations, businesses and individuals.

Wordcon’s genetic root lies in the art, science and commerce of having a totality of work and life. Wordcon speakers will be telling stories which they know best – their own journey and what they learnt and what they think we should unlearn and learn.

Wordcon 2015 premiered on 28th November 2015 in Kolkata in the form of its first Conference attended by local freelancers, entrepreneurs and professionals with three freelancers joining via webinar from Australia, Germany and the UK. Wordcon spirit was carried to New York and Bangladesh in March 2016, in the UK in July 2016. In last two years, we gathered an insight – a hunger of the post-industrial age perhaps, of having a balance of living life and earning our livelihood.

Wordcon 2017 Conference has been the culmination of Wordcon’s yearlong activities and campaigns in Kolkata / India, Bangladesh, Scotland and England, New York, Seattle in connecting Indian Freelancers with the global community and to share best practices.

Wordcon 2017’s theme was Freelancing – The post-industrial generation Career Opportunity.

Freelancing has been as old as war. In bygone ages, most of the people fought for one’s monarch, nation-state, religion, freelancers (lance means sword in old English) were fiercely independent and free-spirited. The English word “freelancer” first appeared in Sir Walter Scott’s novel in the late nineteenth century.

Functionally, many major functions of the society were conducted and are now being conducted by freelancers: doctors, lawyers, health care professionals, CA, musicians, authors, designers, translators, beauticians, content writers, journalists, photographers, performing artists, priests, SEO, social media analyst, ethical hackers, freelance consultants of all shades and the list goes on. Anyone who does not have a fixed employer and sells his/her skill directly to the marketplace can be technically considered a freelancer.

Wordcon2017’s core objective was to bring authentic, useful, fresh and inspiring stories of various freelancers or those who share the spirit of freelancing from our contemporary ecosystem.

Wordcon’s commitment to freelancers of India and abroad to build a global collaborative platform finds an echo of our own vision. For this, we have carried campaigns in Bangladesh, Africa, UK and US – Coast to Coast.

The event started with the chanting of Vedic mantras “Shiboham” by Sri Raja Bhattacharya and then the Inaugural session continued with the welcome address by Sri Pritam Bhattacharyya, Chairman – Wordcon, Chief Wordsmith – Wordsmith Communication, Sri Sushobhan Mukherjee, Chairman – Infocon Global, CEO- Prime Infoserv LLP, Sri Radhakrishnan, President – TiE, Kolkata, Dr. Parthasarathi Bhattacharya, Pulmonologist, Founder – Institute of Pulmocare and Research, Dr. Ashutosh Bhattacharjee, Chief Trend Analyst and Consultant – Vedic Life Trends, Chief Guest Sri Samarpan Maharaj, Belur Math and a formal Inauguration by lamp lighting., Swami Samarpanananda delivered the address on the theme of How to decrease the divide between Life and Livelihood. He clarified on the difference between life, livelihood and philosophy of life.

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The plenary sessions covered all diversified domains like PR, Sports, Media (Print, Radio, Television) , Academia, Translation, Sports, Literature, Writing, Filmmaking and off course music.

Speakers and Panelists like Ms. Rita Bhimani (Ritam Communications), Mr.Jamshed Nasiri (Formal Player and Football Coach), Mr.Jimmy Tangree (Friend’s FM), Snehasish Sur(Doordarshan), Professor Rajdeep Chowdhury (JIS College), Dr.  Buroshiv Dasgupta (Ex Director, NSHM), Dr. Dilip Shah (Professor of Bhawanipur Education Society), Mr.Sailen Sengupta (Wordsmith University), Mr. Avelo Roy (Kolkata Ventures), Mr. Rhitobrata Bhattacharyya (Media Specialist), Mr. Joydeep Ganguly (Business Strategist and Practitioner for International Business), Mr.Binod Ghosal(Bengali Fiction Writer), Mr. Deepak Kumar Khaitan (Practicing Company Secretary), Mr.Arif Ahmed (South Asian Management Technologies Foundation), Mr.Nirupam Sen (BSI), Dr. Sudip Sinha (NLP Master Practitioner), Mr. Kaushik Bhattacharya (Business Management Consultant), Ms. Malabika Chatterjee (Mono Translation Bureau), Mr. Pinaki Talukder (Anubadak Lingo Services), Mr. Subhasis Chatterjee (Connect India, Mozilla, Indus Universe), Mr. Subhas Mohanty (PRSI), Dr. Arnab Gupta of Saroj Gupta Cancer Care Centre focused on the theme of freelancing from the various fields and future directions and how we can apply the learning from one domain to another.,

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The event had witnessed the launching of Journals – Infoquest – 2nd Edition– a journal of Infoquest security, Freespace – Freelancer’s Journal.

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Wordcon 2017 was full of musicals as usual. The inaugural started with “Shiboham” by Mr.Raja Chattacharya , Post lunch was by Mr.Parijat Biswas with his own composition (lyric, music and performance) and Finally there was orchestra by Kolkata Youth Ensemble.

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The evening conclusive session was blend of indian, Bengali and international themes both in instrumental and vocal such as Bhoopali Raga, Titanic theme, Amra Sabai Raja collage, Mozart meets Ray, Mozart Symphony 40,  Aj mon cheyechhe,  Jibone ki Pabona, Mere Sapno ki Rani and Journey based on Mishra Jog Raga. We had a 21 musician fusion orchestra, conducted by renowned musician Amitava Ghosh.

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Wordcon will continue conducting small – local and hyper-local events with freelancers, followed by cultural, musical and literary showcasing.

The spirit of “Wordcon” is briefed through the small assemble of limericks:

তুখোড় গলা গানের? মন মজেছে ড্যান্সে?
ছকে বাঁধা চাকরী জীবন ভীষণরকম পানসে?

সিংহ হৃদয়? সাহস তূণে?
গড়বে জীবন স্বপ্ন বুনে?

ভরসা রেখো “ওয়ার্ডকনে” এবং ফ্রিল্যান্সে |

কর্পোরেটে ক্লান্ত জীবন, অন্যরকম গল্প লেখে,
দশটা-পাঁচটা বাঁধন ছেড়ে একলা নিজেই বাঁচতে শেখে,

এমন অনেক টুকরো জুড়ে,
ওয়ার্ডকনের হৃদয়পুরে,

ফ্রিল্যান্সমুখী বঙ্গবাসী, সন্মেলনে সল্টলেকে |

ফ্রিলান্স মানে স্বাধীনচেতা, ইচ্ছে ডানায় গঙ্গাফড়িং,

শঙ্খচিলের উজান গাঙে, জাপটে ধরা সোনার হরিণ ।

সঙ্গে থেক বন্ধুজনে,

আস্থা থাকুক ওয়ার্ডকনে,

ভবিষ্যতের যাত্রাপথে, ফ্রিল্যান্সের রাস্তা ধরি ।

Last but not the least, Wordcon and Infocon both feel that there is an increasing conflict in our life and livelihood and we are missing quality leisure and healthy social mixing. As a demonstration of this value, we have been organizing musical event called “Hammer and Violin” every winter, a picnic for entrepreneurs called EPIC, planning for a yearly sports event so that we have a total and harmonious growth.

With your help and support and with the grace of the Supreme Lord of the Cosmic Government, we hope that we shall continue our collaborative journey with Kolkata.