Wipro Reports Of Employee Accounts Being Affected In “Advanced Phishing Campaign”

IT giant Wipro said on Tuesday some of its employee accounts were affected in an “advanced phishing campaign”. The company has taken steps towards mitigating any potential impact. 

The Bengaluru-based company, which is scheduled to announce its fourth quarter financial results later in the day, said it has also retained an independent forensic firm to assist the company in its investigation of the matter.

Cybersecurity blog KrebsOnSecurity had said that Wipro’s systems had been breached and were being used to launch attacks against some of its clients.

“We detected a potentially abnormal activity in a few employee accounts on our network due to an advanced phishing campaign,” Wipro said in an emailed statement.

Upon learning of the incident, Wipro promptly began an investigation, identified the affected users and took remedial steps to contain and mitigate any potential impact, it added.

Wipro pointed out that it is leveraging its cyber-security practices and collaborating with its partner ecosystem to collect and monitor advanced threat intelligence for enhancing security posture.

“We have also retained a well-respected, independent forensic firm to assist us in the investigation. We continue to monitor our enterprise and infrastructure at a heightened level of alertness,” it added.

KrebsOnSecurity cited sources to state that Wipro was “dealing with a multi-month intrusion from an assumed state-sponsored attacker” and that Wipro’s systems were seen being used as jumping-off points for digital fishing expeditions targeting at least a dozen Wipro customer systems.

Post- Demonitisation: Big Cash Depositors Subject To ‘Best Judgement’ Assessment

A total of over 80,000 taxpayers who had deposited their cash in significant amounts during the demonetisation period but failed to respond to initial notices sent by I-T department will now be subject to a ‘best judgement’ assessment. The Income Tax department had sent notices asking them to furnish their tax teturns for the financial year 2016-17. 

The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has laid down the standard operating procedure (SOP) in a notification addressed to its senior cadre on March 5. 

Earlier, the I-T department had issued notices to around 3 lakh individuals under Section 142(1), requiring them to provide details relating to their cash deposits and also to furnish their I-T returns for 2016-17. In 87,000 cases, the I-T department received no response (or in technical terms, the notices were non-complied with). The CBDT has exhorted that the best judgement assessments should be completed by March 31, or latest by June 30.

Nangia Advisors managing partner Rakesh Nangia explains, “These taxpayers are now on the wider radar of the I-T department as the tax officers have been authorised to gather maximum information about them and scrutinise the total income on the basis of such information. In other words, the I-T officer is authorised to assesses the total income of such taxpayers to the best of his judgement.” 

The CBDT notification explains that the I-T officer can send notices to any person under Section 133(6) for gathering material — such as additional information of the persons, details of the transactions and fund flow from banks — which would enable closure of the best judgment assessment.

“Such notices would be issued by the concerned I-T official after a careful appraisal of information at his disposal so that maximum possible additional information can be culled out. Further, a detailed analysis of past income tax returns, if available, should also be made to form an opinion regarding nature of transactions related to demonetisation,” the notification states. 

The SOP provides that an opportunity of being heard shall be granted to the taxpayer to explain his case. Further, the range head may examine the record of assessment proceedings and issue direction for guiding the I-T officers in conducting such proceedings. Sharing of information, such as details of beneficiaries that are now detected among relevant I-T officers, has also been called for. 

Nangia adds, “Though the CBDT directions say that a notice should be given to taxpayers, providing them an opportunity of being heard before completing the ‘best judgment assessment’, the law doesn’t require this since a notice under section 142(1) has already been issued in these cases.”

Wipro Shares Surge 4.65% As Scrip Turns Ex- bonus Ratio 1:3

Wipro shares surged 4.65 per cent in the early trade on Wednesday following the scrip turning ex-bonus in the ratio of 1:3.

The scrip made it to ₹285.40 in the early session, taking it up by 4 per cent. 

Wipro in February received approval from the majority of its shareholders for the issue of bonus shares and increase in authorised share capital. The firm had fixed March 7 as the record date to determine eligible shareholders for 1:3 bonus shares.

In January, Wipro’s board had approved an issue of bonus shares wherein shareholders will get one bonus share for every three shares held by them.

In a regulatory filing, Wipro said the “resolutions have been approved by members with requisite majority and shall be deemed to have been passed on February 22, 2019, being the last date of receipt of postal ballot forms/e-voting”.

Consequently, the company’s authorised share capital stands increased from Rs 1,126.50 crore to Rs 2,526.50 crore by creation of additional 700 crore equity shares of Rs 2 each, it added.

In its January filing, Wipro had said the company had an aggregate amount of Rs 46,847.9 crore as on December 2018 in free reserves, securities premium account and capital redemption reserve account.

Ex-bonus means after the record date. It is the date on which the share price is adjusted on stock exchanges according to the bonus ratio. 

The shares of the company closed 2.05 per cent up at Rs 278.30 on BSE.

IT Dept Mandates PAN- Linking For Income Tax Refunds

The Income Tax Department has said that it will “only” issue refunds via the e- mode into bank accounts of taxpayers along with mandatory PAN linking with their accounts, starting from next month. 

It said that it will send the refunds to bank accounts as it will issue “only e-refunds from March 1, 2019.”

Link your PAN (permanent account number) with your bank account to get your refund directly, swiftly and securely, the department said in a public advisory issued Wednesday. It added the bank account could be either savings, current, cash or overdraft.

Till now, the department used to issue refunds to taxpayers either in their bank accounts or through account payee cheques, in a case-to-case basis depending on the category of taxpayers.

The communication added taxpayers can check if their bank account is linked with their PAN by logging onto the e-filing website of the department–https://www.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in

It said those who have not linked their PAN with their bank account should provide it to their home bank branch and also validate this over the e-filing website of the I-T Department.

Recently, the linking of the PAN with the Aadhaar-PAN has been made “mandatory” for those filing an Income Tax Return (ITR) and this procedure has to be “completed” by March 31 this year.

As per data updated till early this month, the I-T Department has so far issued 42 crore PANs, of which 23 crore have been linked with Aadhaar.

While Aadhaar is issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to a resident of India, PAN is a 10-digit alphanumeric number allotted by the IT Department to a person, firm or entity.

Job Mess in Traditional Sector Owing to Technology Sector

Traditional sector employees are facing a tough challenge as increasing use of the IT sector has snatched the jobs of these semi-skilled employees.

These are bad times for mid-level staff at India’s information technology (IT) companies. The sector is being redrawn by new-age trends such as automation, artificial intelligence and cloud computing. Emerging technology poses a big threat to traditional business of the companies so that they are forced to look for employees who are conversant with the new technological trends.

While the companies rationalise workforce, hire freshers with new-age skills at high salaries, finish certain jobs and retire employees early, the most vulnerable group is the mid-level employees. If you are a techie around 40 years of age and not in step with swiftly changing times, your professional future could be bleak. But now a ray of hope has emerged for such employees.

The companies have been trying to retrain their staff, but retraining does not work always. However, Infosys has found a novel way to retrain its staff. It is upskilling employees which will help it cut attrition and acquire future-ready workforce. Infosys is doubling pay packages for employees who successfully complete its new bridge programmes.

These help staff to shift from their existing job to one that demands higher skills. The company expects this will also reduce attrition at junior levels — the rate has been high in recent times at over 20% — and give young employees more career options, TOI has reported. Other IT companies, including TCS and Wipro, too are coming up with novel methods to reskill employees in fields like consulting, automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and to make them stay for longer durations.

Infosys has developed more than half-a-dozen bridge programmes. The bridge-to-consulting programme, which it started this year, targets young employees who, on average, have spent three years with the company.

That’s the time period after which many look for jobs in rival companies for a promotion and a fatter salary, or pursue higher studies, preferably an MBA. The programme aims to move employees to the consulting side of the business, and includes a test and a three-month curriculum. After that, the employee has to spend six months interning in a consulting project and, upon completion, the role changes and the new salary structure kicks in.

“We are focused on creating a flexible internal market place for our talent to grow instead of their leaving to join, say, an MBA course. These programmes provide people with alternative career growth opportunities,” Krish Shankar, head of human resources at Infosys, told TOI. Infosys said that employees who go through the programmes have seen their salary rise by 80-120%. Some 400 people have been trained in these programmes till date.

The company declined to disclose the base salary on which the increases have been provided. But considering that a fresh engineering graduate starts at about Rs 3.5 lakh per annum and assuming an average hike of 10% for three consecutive years, a bridge programme could take the salary close to Rs 9 lakh, similar to what an MBA graduate may receive.

“The demand for these skills will rise as we scale, and these programmes give us flexibility,” said Shankar. The bridge-to-consulting programme is also part of the company’s effort to focus more on consulting as it looks to ramp up a segment that is dominated by the likes of IBM, Capgemini, Accenture and Deloitte.

Lost Arbitration Case: Infosys To Pay Rs 12.17 Crore to Its Former CFO

Arbitral Tribunal decreed a 12.17 crore compensation with interest to Rajiv Bansal, Former Chief Financial Officer of Infosys Limited after the latter lost the arbitration case over severance package.

Infosys said it will take legal advice for further action on the issue.

The IT firm had agreed to pay Bansal a severance amount of Rs 17.38 crore or 24 months of salary, but the company suspended payments after he got Rs 5 crore as co-founder N R Narayana Murthy and others objected to the severance package as excessive.

Following this, Bansal had dragged his former employer to arbitration to claim the remaining Rs 12 crore of his severance pay.

Bansal’s severance payout has been one of the issues that Infosys founders had raised to allege governance lapses at the Bengaluru-based firm.

When Bansal left Infosys in 2015, Infosys had agreed to pay him Rs 17.38 crore in severance pay, equivalent to 24 months of pay.

The US extends suspension of H1-B visas

In effort to clear the backlog, The US has extended by over five months the temporary suspension of premium processing for H1-B visas, popular among Indian IT professionals. Premium processing is a feature that shortens the usual processing time for H-1B visa petitions from an average of six months to 15 calendar days for a fee of $1,225 (Rs 86,181). It allows some companies to jump the queue.

The suspension, announced on Tuesday by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is expected to last till February 19 next year. The USCIS said it was extending the temporary suspension of premium processing for cap-subject H-1B petitions and, beginning September 11, will expand this temporary suspension to include certain additional H-1B petitions.

Under the premium processing programme, the USCIS has to respond within 15 days to H-1B visa petitions. The USCIS had announced in March that it will temporarily suspend premium processing for all FY2019 cap-subject petitions, including those seeking an exemption for individuals with a US master’s degree or higher. The suspension of premium processing for FY2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions was originally slated to last till 10 September 2018, but the suspension was extended through an estimated date of 19 February 2019.

The USCIS said the temporary suspension will help it reduce the overall H-1B processing time by allowing it to process long-pending petitions. The temporary suspension will also allow the agency to be responsive to petitions with time-sensitive start dates and prioritise adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240-day mark. As an H-1B non-immigrant, the applicant may be admitted for a period of up to three years. The time period may be extended, but generally cannot go beyond six years.

The H1-B visa has an annual numerical limit cap of 65,000 for every fiscal year as mandated by the Congress. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of beneficiaries with a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Additionally, H1-B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education or its affiliated or related non-profit entities or a non-profit research organisation or a government research organisation are not subject to this numerical cap.

In July, a report by an American non-profit body claimed there was a substantial increase in denial of H-1B visa petitions of Indians by the US Immigration authority. According to the USCIS, between 2007 and 2017, it received the maximum number of 2.2 million H-1B petitions from high-skilled Indians. India was followed by China with 301,000 H-1B petitions during the same period.