April 10, 2020

COVID-19: Resources

Microsoft Defender ATP can help you secure your remote workforce
As remote work has grown dramatically over the last few weeks, we want to make sure you have the information you need, as we work together, to help secure your organization’s remote workers.

For IT professionals: Privacy and security in Microsoft Teams
Over the past week, there has been a lot written about video conferencing, privacy, and security. As an IT professional, you may be getting a lot of questions. We want to help. Privacy and security are always top of mind for IT, but never more so than at this moment, when the end users you support are working remotely.

Remote work trend report: meetings
As I write this, millions of people around the world are adjusting to full-time remote work and learning. Working remotely full-time can challenge us as humans because we are hardwired for connection. Here at Microsoft, we did a study a couple years back that asked 14,000 people in seven countries to name the form of communication that makes them happiest. No surprise, in-person meetings ranked number one over email, chat, or texting across all generations. In a moment where meeting face-to-face is impossible, how do we continue to connect to one another?

COVID-19: Industry News & Response

CNN Microsoft is giving workers 12 weeks of paid parental leave because of school disruptions
Microsoft is giving its workers an additional three months of paid parental leave to deal with extended school closures due to the coronavirus outbreak. Parents who work for Microsoft can choose how and when to use the leave — whether it’s a three-month stretch or a few days a week — a company spokesperson told CNN Business. The company is calling the program “12-Week Paid Pandemic School and Childcare Closure Leave.”

Cyberscoop Malicious coronavirus-themed emails are lucrative for crooks, FBI warns
If you’re not already skeptical of emails asking for money in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the FBI wants you to remember this: It’s a common scam these days. And it works. The bureau has issued multiple warnings highlighting how crooks are updating a profitable fraud technique to capitalize on pandemic concerns.

CNET Feds threaten to cut off service providers allowing illegal COVID-19 related robocalls
The US Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission are demanding that telecommunications service providers help stop illegal coronavirus-related robocalls. On Friday the agencies warned three gateway providers that are facilitating COVID-19-related scam robocalls originating overseas to cut off these calls or face serious consequences.


Politico Bernie Sanders suspends his presidential campaign
Bernie Sanders is suspending his 2020 presidential campaign, ceding the Democratic nomination to Joe Biden after a string of losses last month crippled his campaign. He announced his decision during an all-staff conference call Wednesday morning.

Bloomberg Biden Suggests DNC Consider Virtual 2020 Nominating Convention
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said the party should consider a virtual nominating convention this summer because the coronavirus has led to limits on public gatherings. “We’re going to have to do a convention, we may have to do a virtual convention,” Biden said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “I think we should be thinking about that right now. The idea of holding a convention is going to be necessary. But we may not be able to put 10, 20, 30,000 people in one place.”

Statescoop Microsoft expands security offerings to election officials
Microsoft announced Thursday it is expanding its cybersecurity offerings to state and local election officials, including access to a free service that offers threat detection on email or other accounts, and specialized services from the company’s incident-response group. The announcement is part of Microsoft’s two-year-old Defending Democracy Program, a suite of election-security products that the company has been providing to campaigns and officials in both the United States and abroad.


Reuters Video service Zoom taking security seriously: U.S. government memo
Video conferencing company Zoom has been responsive to concerns over its software, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a memo recently distributed to top government cybersecurity officials and seen by Reuters.

The Hill Warren releases plan to secure elections during coronavirus pandemic
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released a plan Tuesday intended to secure elections during the coronavirus pandemic through mail-in voting and increasing online voter registration. The plan, first reported by Mother Jones, calls on states to ensure every eligible American has the ability to vote by mail, sending voters a ballot with prepaid postage.

The Hill Lawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting
A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday called on House leaders to consider allowing votes on legislation by phone or video conferencing so they can conduct congressional business while still abiding by health guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Problem Solvers Caucus, a 50-member group of Democrats and Republicans, outlined multiple ideas for how the House could allow lawmakers to cast roll call votes remotely on legislation during emergencies like the coronavirus crisis that makes travel and congregating in large groups difficult.

CNET Senators raise privacy questions about Google’s COVID-19 tracker
Two US senators want to make sure Google’s COVID-19 tracker isn’t infringing on millions of people’s privacy. In a letter sent to Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday, Sens. Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal raised questions about how the tech giant’s tracker is ensuring that the location data it’s collecting and presenting stays confidential.


Fast Company Satya Nadella: ‘Absolutely, tech does owe something back to the society’
When I talked to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last week, I’d just finished Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott’s excellent book, Reprogramming the American Dream, about AI’s potential to include rural America in the future growth of the economy. Evenly distributing the goodness of technologies such as AI across geography and class lines might go a long way toward healing some of the resentment in less populous states for “the coastal elite” (including tech workers).

WIRED When School Is Online, the Digital Divide Grows Greater
Like many students around the world, Nora Medina is adapting to online learning. But Medina, a high school senior in Quincy, Washington, who also takes classes at a local community college, faces an additional challenge: She doesn’t have reliable internet service at home. She lives 7 miles outside of town where she says neither cable nor DSL internet is available. She can access the internet on her phone, and her family has a wireless hot spot, but she says the service isn’t up to the task of doing homework online. “It’s hit and miss,” she says. “Sometimes I can watch a video, but sometimes I can’t even refresh a page, or it will take minutes to load something on a page.”

New York Times You Can’t Spell Creative Without A.I.
Steve Jobs once described personal computing as a “bicycle for the mind.” His idea that computers can be used as “intelligence amplifiers” that offer an important boost for human creativity is now being given an immediate test in the face of the coronavirus.

AP News Tennessee announces $20M in broadband grants
Top Tennessee officials say nearly $20 million in broadband accessibility grants have been awarded to help support nearly 31,000 underserved residents. Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announced the grants to 17 recipients on Friday.

Axios 5G rollout advances despite pandemic, but hazards loom
Coronavirus-related economic disruption and uncertainty could yet slow the pace of 5G deployment in the U.S. — but for now, the major carriers say they’re moving full speed ahead. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of connectivity as businesses shift to remote work and schools move classes online, making network performance more vital than ever.

Tech Crunch Zoom admits some calls were routed through China by mistake
Hours after security researchers at Citizen Lab reported that some Zoom calls were routed through China, the video conferencing platform has offered an apology and a partial explanation. To recap, Zoom  has faced a barrage of headlines this week over its security policies and privacy practices, as hundreds of millions forced to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic still need to communicate with each other.


The Brookings Institution

  • An essay on the digital divide in rural America.
    Thick snow flurries fell on the night that my colleague Mark Hoelscher, then Brookings’s resident photographer, and I left Washington, D.C., driving northwest on Interstate 270 toward Garrett County, Maryland. The trip, which is normally three hours, took five given the blinding and hazardous weather conditions in the Allegheny Mountains. Garrett County is wedged between Pennsylvania to the north and West Virginia to the west and the south. While the estimated county population is around 29,000, the county has a land area of 647 square miles and a population density of only 47 people per square mile. Garrett County residents are predominantly white with a median household income of $49,619; 12 percent of residents fell at or below the poverty line in 2010. Most of the residents have at least a high school degree. And, more than half of the county residents over the age of 16 work in the more than 900 employer firms in the county with the largest industries being health care and social services. Approximately 2,000 individuals reported being self-employed or an independent contractor, according to the 2010 U.S Census. (Longform – From Rural Digital Divides to Local Solutions, April 2, 2020)

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