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A PDF Claiming That CERT-In Issued A COVID-19 Related Advisory About Potential Cyber Attacks From The Chinese Army Is Misleading

Computer Emergency Response Team-India did not mention in their COVID-19 related advisory who was behind the planned phishing attacks.

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A PDF Claiming That CERT-In Issued A COVID-19 Related Advisory About Potential Cyber Attacks From The Chinese Army Is Misleading

Claim 

A PDF with the subject line, Cyber Alert: Reg, states that the Computer Emergency Response Team-India(CERT-In) has issued a COVID-19 related advisory about a potential cyber offensive attack from the Chinese army. 

The PDF which claims to be from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Ministry of Home Affairs and signed by B S N Reddy, Sr. Commandant details that in the guise of a free COVID-19 test, “Chinese cyber warriors could be carrying out a massive phishing attack.” 

We received this PDF on our Whatsapp verification helpline number asking for clarification on the facts included in it. You can read the full document here

Fact Check

As the PDF claimed to source an advisory from the Computer Emergency Response Team-India(CERT-In), we first searched for any such advisory on their website. We found an advisory issued on 19 June, 2020 titled, COVID-19 related Phishing Attack Campaign by Malicious Actors.  

The 19 June CERT-In advisory describes that malicious actors behind the phishing campaign claim to have two million individual/ citizen email IDs and plan to send emails inciting them to provide their personal information. The phishing campaign which was expected to start on 21 June planned to create fake email IDs such as ncov2019@gov.in impersonating various authorities. CERT-In’s advisory states that the phishing email may look as follows:

You can read the detailed advisory in the ‘Advisories’ section on their website. CERT-In also posted about the same on their Twitter profile on 20 June. 

No Title

No Description

News organisations reported on CERT-In’s COVID-19 related phishing attack campaign advisory as well. 

Centre warns of massive phishing campaign mimicking government communication on Covid-19

The Centre on Saturday night warned people of a massive phishing campaign that could mimic official communication on the coronavirus pandemic to steal personal data and financial information from people. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, also known as CERT-In, that works under the Ministry of Information Technology, said that the phishing attack is expected to begin on Sunday, and could use the email ncov2019@gov.in.

However, CERT-In did not mention in their advisory who was behind the planned phishing attacks. A reference link to CYFIRMA, a threat discovery and cyber-intelligence company, backed by Goldman Sachs, at the bottom of the advisory led us to knowing that a North Korean hacker group called Lazarus Group is behind this COVID-19 related phishing campaign. A 18 June report by CYFIRMA says that phishing attacks in India are part of a global campaign by Lazarus that has targeted five other countries apart from India for financial gains. You can read the entire report here

We wrote to CYFIRMA seeking a confirmation on North Korean operatives, Lazarus Group, being behind the COVID-19 related phishing campaign. In their response they confirmed it and said that observations about the global phishing campaign came from research obtained from their platform and monitoring of the dark web. They further explained:

“For Global Phishing campaign, the 6 nations’ CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) authorities have reverted and confirmed the analysis and threat. Pls see IN CERT website for their advisory.”

They also informed us of another piece of research they released on “cyberattacks on Indian assets due to ongoing China-India border crisis.” CERT-In has been alerted of the same, they said. You can read more about it in livemint’s story here

Coming back to the PDF we received on our Whatsapp number for verification, the key points detailed match the information included in CERT-In’s COVID-19 advisory. But contrary to what’s mentioned in the PDF, the advisory does not state that the potential cyber attacks are from the Chinese Army. Nor did we find any other advisory on their website which mention the Chinese army being behind potential cyber attacks. 

We’ve reached out to B S N Reddy, the CISF personnel whose alleged digital signature is on the PDF, for confirmation on this document. 

We also contacted CERT-In asking if they’ve released any advisory which states a “potential cyber offensive attack from the Chinese Army.”

We’re awaiting confirmation from the above sources. This story will be updated if or when we hear from either of them. 

Conclusion 

The PDF we received stating that CERT-In issued an advisory regarding a COVID-19 related potential offensive cyber attack from the Chinese army is misleading. Our research showed that the 19 June CERT-In advisory titled, “COVID 19-related Phishing Attack Campaign by Malicious Actors,” did not mention who was behind the potential cyber attacks. 

Tools Used 

  • Google Advanced Search
  • Twitter

Result: Misleading 

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Video Of Man Urging Muslim Community To Increase Representation Is Not Himalaya’s Founder

Himalaya Drug Company’s founder M Manal passed away in 1986. Man in the viral video is Naqi Ahmed Nadwi, administrator at Maaden, Riyadh.

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Naqi Ahmed Nadwi's video shared as founder of Himalaya

A video of a man speaking in Urdu and encouraging the Muslim community to increase their representation in professions such as administrative services, health department, judiciary, and others has been shared by many social media users recently. 

Users have claimed the man in the video to be the owner of the Himalayan Drug Company, Mohammed Manal. These claims also advise people against the use of Himalaya products. 

One such example of the claim reads, “We are all proud of Indian ‘Himalayan Drug Company’ but see the mentality of it’s owner Mohammed Manal and think twice before using the products.”

You can read similar claims with the 44-second video below. 

Fact Check/ Verification

Using keyframes from the video, we did a reverse search on Yandex.com. This led us to a Youtube video in which the same man was seen speaking on CAA and NRC. A Google search of keywords from this video led us to Naqi Ahmed Nadwi’s Facebook page—the man speaking in the video

On 22 August, Nadwi posted a video on his Facebook page with an Urdu caption:

 بابری مسجد کا انہدام اوراسکی جگہ پر رام مندر کا قیام تاریخ ہند کا ایک ایسا موڑ ہے جس کے بارے میں مسلمانوں کو سنجیدگی سے غور کرنا ہوگا!

It translates to, “The demolition of Babri Masjid and the establishment of Ram Mandir in its place is a twist in the history of India which Muslims must consider seriously!” 

The video clip included in the initial claim was taken from this 12-minute video by Nadwi. You can watch the clip from the 11:54 timestamp. 

As per Nadwi’s LinkedIn profile, he is an Administrator at Maaden CEO Office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Naqi Ahmed Nadwi’s LinkedIn profile

Founder of Himalaya

An image of Himalaya Drug Company’s founder, M Manal posted on the company’s website clearly shows he is not the same man as claimed in the initial tweets. Also, M Manal passed away in 1986. The current CEO of the company is Philipe Haydon.

Photograph of M Manal, Founder of Himalaya Drug Company on its website
Photograph of M Manal, Founder of Himalaya Drug Company on its website

On 27 September, the company tweeted a clarification on the claim calling it baseless rumours.

Conclusion 

Tweets claiming the video of a man urging the Muslim community to increase their representation in sectors such as police force, to be the founder of Himalaya Drug Company are misleading. The man in the video is Naqi Ahmed Nadwi, Administrator at Maaden CEO Office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Result: Misleading 

Our Sources

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mtqEf5FeFg

Naqi Ahmed Nadwi’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Naqi-Ahmed-Nadwi-Page-105822587910985

Naqi Ahmed Nadwi’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/naqi-ahmed-nadwi-64b32446/

Himalaya Drug Company: https://himalayawellness.in/pages/our-story

Himalaya Global Holdings: http://www.himalayaglobalholdings.com/abouthimalaya/milestones.htm

Himalaya CEO Philipe Haydon: https://www.linkedin.com/in/philipe-haydon-46b13515/?originalSubdomain=in

Himalaya India: https://twitter.com/HimalayaIndia/status/1310136642380861440?s=20

Prathmesh Kunt contributed towards research for this fact check. 


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PM Modi’s 2017 Ro-Ro Ferry Initiative Shared With Braemar Cruise Video From Greece

PM Modi’s 2017 Ro-Ro ferry initiative was suspended due to dredging issues in Dahej last year.

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PM Modi’s 2017 Ro-Ro Ferry Initiative Shared With Braemar Cruise Video From Greece

A Twitter user claims that the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi started a ferry service connecting Bhavnagar and Bharuch districts in Gujarat. It further claims the distance between the districts is 350km by road and 32km by sea. It is accompanied by a 59-second video which shows a cruise ship passing through a narrow waterway. 

The tweet aims to appreciate PM Modi’s initiative to reduce travel time between the two districts, while also claiming the ship’s capacity to hold 50 trucks, 60 buses, 200 cars, 350 motorcycles and 600 people at once. 

Posted on 28 September, the tweet written in Hindi when translated reads, “Bhavnagar to Bharuch road has a distance of 350 kilometers, and by sea route it is 32 kilometers, and by this sea route, the Prime Minister has started a service by the ship. The capacity of this ship is 50 trucks, 60 buses, 200 cars at once. 350 motorcycles, 600 people, and time in just half an hour”

Other social media users have shared similar claims. 

Fact Check/ Verification

Through a reverse image search of the claim (tweet) on InVid, a video verification tool, we came across an October 2019 tweet by @Amazing_Greece which reads, “MS Braemar is the largest ship which has been through the Canal of Corinth #Greece

Taking cue from this we did a keyword (ms braemar corinth canal) search on Google which led us to an October 2019 Youtube video. Posted by the account Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines the video’s description reads, Braemar cruising through the Corinth Canal.”

Fred Olsen’s video shows keyframes similar to the video in the claim. It also shows the same surrounding scenic views of the Corinth Canal. Located in Greece, this canal is one of the oldest man-made canals in the world. 

The Telegraph UK published an article on it in October 2019 titled, “The inside story of a record-breaking cruise through the Corinth Canal – a journey that was two years in the planning.” As did the Daily Mail UK

PM Modi’s Ro-Ro Ferry Initiative

As for the other part of the claim which says PM Modi started a ship service connecting Bhavnagar and Bharuch districts in Gujarat, it is true, but old news. 

In October 2017, PM Modi inaugurated the first phase of Roll-On-Roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferry service between Bharuch’s Dahej and Bhavnagar’s Ghogha. This was just weeks before the state assembly elections. 

As per a video shared by PM Modi in 2017, this ferry would reduce travel time between the districts from eight hours to one hour (360km to 31km). Further, the ferry vessel shall transport 70-80 trucks or 100 light-weight motor vehicles with 500 passengers. You can read other tweets by PM Modi on the same occasion here

After the ferry was suspended due to dredging issues in Dahej,  the Adani firm recently won the bid to provide Ro-Ro ferry service between Hazira in Surat and Ghoga in Bhavnagar district. 

Conclusion

Our research makes it clear that the ferry service connecting Bhavnagar and Bharuch districts in Gujarat is not a new or recent initiative. Also contrary to the distance claimed, the Ro-Ro ferry reduced it from 360km to 31km. The ferry’s capacity figures are misleading as well. Finally, the accompanying video is in fact of the Braemar cruise in Corinth Canal, Greece. 

Result: Misleading

Our Sources

Amazing Greece: https://twitter.com/Amazing_Greece/status/1182560844762308608?s=20

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPkrmTELao8

Marine Insight: https://www.marineinsight.com/know-more/the-corinthian-canal-a-narrow-man-made-shipping-canal/

The Telegraph UK: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/articles/corinth-canal-largest-cruise-ship-braemar/

Daily Mail: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7563541/Biggest-cruise-ship-squeeze-Corinth-Canal-Greece-makes-just-3ft-spare.html

Financial Express: https://www.financialexpress.com/photos/business-gallery/901833/narendra-modi-gujarat-visit-pm-inaugrates-ghogha-dahej-ro-ro-ferry-service-in-bhavnagar-see-spectacular-photos/5/

Times of India: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/rajkot/pm-modi-inaugurates-his-dream-project/articleshow/61177505.cms

PM Narendra Modi: https://twitter.com/search q=ghogha%20dahej%20ferry%20(from%3Anarendramodi)&src=typeahead_click

Indian Express: https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/adani-firm-wins-ro-ro-terminal-bid-for-hazira-offers-lease-of-rs-1-month-6489009/


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2016 Video Of A Siren Shared With Misleading Claims Related To Ongoing India-China Dispute In Ladakh

The video in context was posted on Youtube in 2016 with the description, “The largest air-raid siren in the world.”

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2016 video of a defender siren shared with misleading claims

A Twitter user claimed that the Chinese army used a loudspeaker at the Indian military camp in Ladakh causing vomiting and injury to the ear drums of Indian soldiers. The tweet is accompanied by a 30-second video which shows a rotating siren with blaring sound. 

Posted from the Twitter handle @ichinaTV on 24 September, the tweet reads, “#china #India The Chinese army uses this super loud speaker to play music at the Indian military camp in Ladakh! A large number of Indian soldiers’ eardrums were injured and vomiting”

The same user retweeted the above tweet on 28 September writing, “Because China and India have signed an agreement to prohibit the use of guns within two kilometers of LAC! Therefore, China has developed this sonic weapon. The video is only a low-power display, and the actual volume and audio are more intense!”

Fact Check/ Verification 

Through a reverse image search on InVid, a video verification tool, we came across a Youtube video titled, “LIONKING Defender Siren” posted in March, 2016. 

InVid search result of "Lion King Defender Siren"
InVid search result of “Lion King Defender Siren”

The video was published by an account named Elsa Chen and has over 47 lakh views till date. It’s description reads, “The largest air-raid siren in the world. Produced by Taizhou LionKing Signal Co.,Ltd. websites: http://www.lionking-firerescue.com. Email: elsa@lionking-firerescue.com

The link in the video’s description led us to a website named Lion King. According to the website, “Taizhou Lion King Signal Co., Ltd. is a professional company specialized in making various sirens, rescue air cushions, PPV blowers,Smoke Ejectors and Line throwers.”

Listed in the products section of the website, a product called “Defender Siren” looked similar to the one from the claim. 

Defender Siren, a product by Taizhou Lion King Signal Co., Ltd.
Defender Siren, a product by Taizhou Lion King Signal Co., Ltd.

The video from the claim was shared by another user in September, 2017 though with a different audio in the background. 

The claim in context was shared days after Chinese troops played Punjabi songs at their forward posts in Ladakh amid the ongoing territorial dispute. At the time, the Indian soldiers were known to be at Finger 4, a height overlooking the positions of the Peoples Liberation Army. 

On 17 September, Hindustan Times reported that “according to a former Indian Army chief, the PLA used the same loudspeaker tactics in 1962 skirmishes in the western and eastern sectors as well during the 1967 Nathu La skirmish.” 

You can read our Hindi fact check on this claim here

Conclusion 

Our research makes it clear that the Chinese army did not use a loudspeaker at the Indian military camp in Ladakh recently. The video in the claim is from 2016 and shows a product called Defender Siren.

Result: Misleading

Our Sources

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrSSArQoFWc

Lion King-FireRescue website: http://www.lionking-firerescue.com/


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