This is a pretty Big League scam we have on our hands, but like all cyber security threats, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. After years of hard work—and gentle nudges from key people in his life—Mount Baker grad Jason Lee is headed to Yale this fall to study and play football. With another semester of virtual learning, experts weigh in on ways to make your students’ online back-to-school experience special. FAYETTEVILLE — Work on Zion Road is about to begin after a 14-year delay. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai will let 200,000 employees and contractors work remotely through the end of the upcoming school year.
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In times of great social importance, it’s common for predators to strike. True to form, cyber criminals have developed a brand new scam this summer, and it targets the millions of Americans who now work from their home computers.
“Russian hackers are attacking work-from-home employees in record numbers,” confirmed Adam Levin, cyber security expert and founder of Cyberscout, to Yahoo Life. A Russian hacking group called Evil Corp. is at the helm of the scam, which aims to infiltrate remote workers’ vulnerable WiFi networks.
Between 62 and 64 percent of Americans are now working from home, according to SHRM’s COVID-19 Business Index and a recent Gallup poll. Compare that to just 7 percent before the coronavirus pandemic emerged. Evil Corp. has done what many cyber criminals do: identify a mass weak spot and prey upon it.
“We are now in the middle of what can be considered a perfect storm when it comes to scams,” Levin told Yahoo Life. “We have the COVID disaster combined with the economic disaster combined with the protests.” He said this confluence of events gives hackers a ripe opportunity to pounce.
This is a pretty Big League scam we have on our hands, but like all cyber security threats, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, use the right tools to ensure your online safety, and you’re golden.
McAfee Multi-Access is a sophisticated software package that offers real-time protection against viruses and malware. It comes with a 30-day free trial—and after that, it costs just $5 a month to work safely on your home computer, even accessing sensitive company data without the threat of an attack on your network. Of course, the security extends to everything you do online in your downtime, too, from shopping and social media to Netflix and online banking. McAfee Multi-Access monitors your connection 24/7.
No matter what machine you use to work from home, McAfee Multi-Access has you covered. It works on PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones—and one account even serves multiple devices. You’ll get warnings against risky websites and dangerous downloads, as well as the opportunity to wipe your mobile device if it’s lost or stolen.
McAfee Multi-Access software auto-updates, so it’s always up-to-date and bug-free, leaving absolutely no gaps for hackers to enter. All that rock-solid online security and peace of mind comes for just $5 a month after enjoying 30 days for free.
The ransomware scam was first identified by cyber security firm Symantec Corporation. They released an urgent statement warning that the group had already struck at least 31 organizations, deploying Wasted Locker ransomware.
“Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts critical data on a computer or computer network so that users can’t regain access without paying a ‘ransom,’” Levin explained, adding that payment does not even guarantee safety. “Once a hacker is in possession of targeted data, it can be sold on the dark web, used to commit other crimes, or released to the general public.”
Symantec Corporation confirmed that the end goal of these new ransomware attacks “is to cripple the victim’s IT infrastructure by encrypting most of their computers and servers in order to demand a multimillion dollar ransom.” The hackers responsible have already been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice multiple times.
The Russian ransomware scam may be one of the newest threats on the radar, but it’s certainly not an isolated incident. Between 2018 and 2019, incidents of ransomware detections in business environments rose by 365 percent, according to cyber security firmCSO. This year, home has become the new business environment for millions of Americans, changing the game entirely.
“2020 has already been a record-breaking year for ransomware attacks,” Levin said. “It has never been more crucial to be armed with good cyber hygiene practices and a steady flow of information of the threats they face on a daily basis.”
The newest hackers are so sneaky, they “identify employees who are using hard-to-hack cybersecurity tools (like VPNs),” said Levin. “Then they wait for them to log off the VPN, targeting non-work Internet traffic to install ransomware. Because many work-from-home employees are using the same computer for work and everyday tasks, networks are infected.”
These attacks on American companies not only force their hands, but the networks potentially connected to national infrastructure may be getting compromised. This includes election systems, Levin said.
Protect yourself and your company from the devastation of a ransomware attack before the worst-case scenario happens. You have far bigger fish to fry than to live in a state of worry, and McAfee Multi-Access gives you ultimate online freedom,
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Hard Work Leads to Playing Football at Yale for Mount Baker High School Grad Jason Lee
Deming, Washington is a long way from New Haven, Connecticut, but the differences between Mount Baker High School and Yale University seem even greater. It was that gap that 2020 Baker grad, Jason Lee, strived to cross with hard work—and gentle nudges from key people in his life.
The process of selecting a university can be daunting and academics were a top priority for Lee. The list of colleges he hoped to attend were University of Washington, Stanford, USC, Princeton, and Yale. He also hoped to continue his football career in college, but with a list of D-1 schools in front of him, that seemed unlikely. “The only schools that were looking at me throughout high school were some of the smaller local colleges,” says Lee.
As Lee began applying to schools, he thought University of Washington was his most likely landing spot; his older sister, Jamie Lee, is a student there, so that path made sense. One of his teachers, however, had other ideas for Jason.
LaLani Pitts, an English and academic success teacher at Baker, encouraged Lee to apply for a scholarship that looked for students who stood out for both academics and extracurricular activities. Part of the application process is to include the schools that you want to attend and one of them must want you, in order to be awarded the scholarship. Pitts, known for bringing out the best in her students, encouraged Lee to put Yale on that list.
Lee’s years of hard work and encouragement from his teacher paid off. He stood out amongst the crowd. Not only did Yale want him to attend their university, they offered him a full-ride academic scholarship.
To say this is a big deal for a kid from Baker is a considerable understatement—and it goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you come from. “It depends on how much work you put in,” says Lee. For him, that dedication to hard work will continue as he plans to study computer science at Yale. The university’s high academic standards would be enough for most, but Lee wants more.
The dream of playing football at the next level stayed with Lee. With encouragement from family friend, Harrison Whitmyre, and his high school football coach, Ron Lepper, Lee sent his film to the Yale football program.
And just as with academics, Lee’s hard work in football paid off. He received a call from the running back coach with the news that they wanted him to join the football team.
“Before I knew I was playing on the football team, I was most excited about going to Yale and all those resources,” Lee says. “But now that I’m playing football, I’d say the thing I’m most excited about for sure is getting to continue my athletic career.”
Lee’s new journey kicks off at the end of August, but like so many things these days it will not start out exactly as planned. Lee will live on campus, but most classes will be held online. The football season has already been postponed, and will likely be cancelled for the upcoming school year. Lee is disappointed that he won’t be in classrooms engaging with his teachers and classmates, but he does see a silver lining: this first year of football will not count against his eligibility, giving him time to train at the college level and get to know his teammates.
Lee played both offense and defense during his high school football years, as running back and safety. In his senior season, Lee rushed for 737 yards and 13 touchdowns while adding five interceptions. At a small school like Baker, it’s common for players to play on both sides of the ball, but at Yale Lee will be solely focused on the running back position.
He’s looking forward to creating bonds with new teammates and creating memories like those from high school. His favorite football memory is Baker’s 2019 win against Lynden High School, where the team came together to get the school’s first win over Lynden since 1990.
When Lee lands in Connecticut to begin creating these memories, it will be his first time visiting Yale. Due to COVID-19, Lee has been unable to make a campus visit, which would normally be part of the process. Nevertheless, he’s excited for the opportunity and looking forward to making the Baker community proud.
“It makes me feel really happy to represent the Mount Baker community well,” he says. Lee gives a lot of credit to being a part of this supportive group, but there’s no doubt that his own hard work made this potential a reality.
Lee’s high school football stats generously provided by www.whatcompreps.com
New clothes, senior portraits and virtual hangouts: How to salvage special back-to-school moments amid a pandemic
If you thought one semester of remote learning was unbearable, get ready for round two.
As coronavirus cases continue to spike throughout the U.S., many schools and universities are taking the precaution of continuing virtual learning throughout the fall in order to ensure social distancing and limit the number of students on campus. The rules for each school vary as some schools are completely online, while others are adopting a hybrid model that consists of both in-person and online coursework. Some universities are allowing only first-year students to return, while others are eliminating on-campus housing completely for the fall.
High school and college seniors face losing their last school years to COVID-19, and 5-year-olds are missing the exciting first day of kindergarten. So with many students starting the school year from home, parents might be wondering: “How can I make it better for them?”
USA TODAY has consulted with two experts about how to help your students of all ages kick off the school year with some real back-to-school moments.
Back to school:Most major schools are heading toward online class as COVID-19 cases spike
Online or in-person, the first day of school is something your child should happily anticipate. Tonya Abari, a writer and homeschooling parent herself, suggests counting down the days until school starts in more creative ways, such as filling a jar with 30 pieces of candy (or a healthier alternative) and giving one piece to your child every day.
“Read 30 school-themed picture books to countdown for school. Use a wall calendar and have the child draw a picture on each day to count down. Or a countdown banner that holds 30 special notes to read each day leading up to the first day of school,” she suggests.
Rent a professional camera or hire a photographer to take your kids’ senior portraits from home, whether it be formal or casual. You can take some nice photos outside in your backyard, or keep it traditional and use a backdrop indoors to shoot your senior’s most memorable last year.
“It’s most effective to take 100 photos or more, then select the best,” advises homeschooling high school expert Lee Binz. “Try to get photos with beloved pets and locations.”
And with no sports, clubs or student gatherings this fall, school yearbooks will be looking pretty empty. So start compiling new and old photos of your child into a printed or virtual photo album to keep track of fall memories. Binz suggests getting creative with memory boards, display tables or even scrapbooks.
Even though classes are online, you’re still going to want to remember your child’s first day. Try hand making a sign or board for your child to hold in a special “first-day-of-school” photo outside. You can write your student’s age, school name, birthday, favorite color or anything cute to remember this unconventional day.
“There are so many variations of first-day-of-school photos to choose from. Indoor/outdoor combos, framing with social media banners, chalkboards, homemade bulletin boards, change of scenery for the first and last day, or letter boards,” Abari explains.
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A surprise room makeover
Decorating your new college dorm room or personalizing your school locker are moments students will have to forgo. Instead, surprise your student with a bedroom makeover for their new virtual learning experience.
Leticia Barr, a technology, education and parenting blogger who founded TechSavvyMama.com, encourages parents to make sure their children have ample work space for their digital devices, as well as considering what shows in the background during video calls when sprucing up the room.
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Just because classes are online doesn’t mean your student shouldn’t stop an iconic back-to-school tradition. While you’re hitting the back-to-school sales, let your child choose some trendy and special outfits for their first day of school.
“Having a new outfit can be a huge motivator that will get your child in the back-to-school spirit,” says Barr.
More:How to start traditions to make the first day of school a special treat
Without cafeteria food, your child has the opportunity to eat some delicious homemade lunches. Barr suggests some easy and special meals that children will love, such as sandwiches, pasta salads with meat and veggies, rolled-up cold cuts and string cheese, as well as yogurt with fruit.
Don’t forget a note on the lunchbox to make the experience more special.
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Just because classes are online doesn’t mean your student won’t need scissors, crayons, markers and other school supplies. Barr reminds parents to check to make sure markers aren’t dried out and glue sticks still have some stick to them. Gift new school supplies in a cute basket to get your child excited.
More:Go back-to-school shopping from home with these kid-friendly subscription services
Let your children share their favorite toy or momento at the dinner table as a substitute for the traditional school time show-and-tell. Abari enjoys doing show-and-tell dinners weekly with her own 5-year-old daughter.
“She gets to pick one piece of artwork that she completed during the week and explain the importance of the work after a family dinner,” Abari says.
Balance the virtual learning with some fun in the sun. Barr recommends sidewalk chart art and backyard scavenger hunts to help the family bond.
“Plan your own family field trips by taking a walk to a different part of the neighborhood or visiting a park you haven’t been to in a while,” she adds.
After a long day of staring at a computer screen, your child most certainly will appreciate a plate of fresh brownies or homemade chocolate chip cookies.
“It’s even better if you can spend a few minutes measuring, mixing and pouring with your little one to make chemistry and fraction practice more fun,” Barr advises.
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Work along Zion Road in Fayetteville set to begin
FAYETTEVILLE — Work on Zion Road is about to begin after a 14-year delay.
The City Council on Tuesday OK’d a pair of contracts for construction along the street from Vantage Drive to Crossover Road. One contract hires a design consultant to oversee the work at an hourly rate, up to $85,894. The other pays for the work itself, a $6.8 million contract with Tri Star Contractors in Siloam Springs.
The project requires relocating power and internet lines, and some of that work has been ongoing, City Engineer Chris Brown said. A significant amount of water and sewer line relocation work also is required. That work is included in the construction contract, he said.
Drivers should start noticing the work in about a month, Brown said. The project has a 17-month time frame.
The city included the project in its 2006 transportation bond program. The stretch between College Avenue and Vantage Drive was completed in 2008. The recession hit around then, and city administrators prioritized getting as many other smaller transportation projects done as they could because bid prices had gone down, Brown said.
The City Council gave the green light to finish Zion Road in 2013. Design work wrapped in 2015, but by then, the 2006 bond money had run out.
The 2019 bond referendum voters approved included $4.9 million to finish the project.
Close to $4.4 million is coming from the transportation bond fund. Money for the water and sewer line relocation work is coming from the city’s capital fund for water and sewer projects. The cost is an additional $2.4 million.
Another $373,294 is coming from the transportation fund to cover land acquisition, extra design work, phase services, materials testing and any contingency expenses. That brings the total budget for the project from the transportation bond fund to nearly $4.8 million.
Zion is akin to an old country road, Brown said. Most of it has two lanes, deep ditches, no sidewalks or bicycle lanes and sharp curves. The grade goes up and down like a roller coaster, he said.
“Basically, we’re bringing lot of that section up to city standards,” he said.
Drivers can expect to see 10-foot-wide driving lanes in each direction with a 10-foot-wide center lane. A 6-foot-wide sidewalk separated from traffic will go on the south side, with a 10-foot-wide paved trail separated from traffic on the north side. Overall, the street will widen a few feet to 30 feet, Brown said.
The alignment will change, and grades will be flattened out, he said. A roundabout is planned at the intersection with Old Missouri Road.
Construction will happen in phases, meaning one lane in one direction will be closed at a time. Old Missouri serves as the only detour route between Vantage Drive and Crossover Road. About 10,000 cars per day travel that stretch, according to a map from the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
Mayor Lioneld Jordan said improving Zion Road came up frequently during his time on the City Council from 2001-2008.
Justin Tennant, who served as council member for the northeast part of town from 2011-2018, said Zion Road is long overdue for an upgrade. He considered it a priority road project for his ward, but other projects and issues in the city ended up taking precedence, he said.
Tennant said he was riding as a passenger with his son driving recently and saw someone walking on the street, one foot in the asphalt, the other in a ditch.
“It’s so badly needed and has been for so long,” he said. “I’m thankful there haven’t been more accidents and injuries, not just from cars, but from people.”
By the numbers
Roadway and drainage improvements — $4,395,109
Water and sewer relocation — $2,424,965
Total contract amount — $6,820,075
Land acquisition — $67,000
Design work — $33,500
Phase services and materials testing — $52,794
Contingency — $220,000
Total transportation budget cost — $4,768,403
Stacy Ryburn can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @stacyryburn.
Author: Stacy Ryburn
Google Workers Can Continue to Work From Home Until Next Summer
Technology giant Google is giving 200,000 employees and contractors the opportunity to continue working from home until the summer of 2021. The executive decision was made by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL), according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Last week, Pichai discussed Google’s schedule for returning to the office with Google Leads, a small team of high-level leaders within the company. A small number of staffers were given a heads-up later in the week. On Monday, July 27, he made it official in an email sent to all Google workers.
“To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021 for roles that don’t need to be in the office,” the email said.
Image source: Getty Images.
Pichai reportedly reached this decision in order to help his staff manage their work schedules while also taking care of their children’s online schooling. Juggling one form of remote work with another that requires physical travel can be difficult, adding stress and reducing the worker’s efficiency. Many children will not return to traditional school campuses in the fall, and Pichai anticipates some online schedules to stretch across the full school year.
The new policy applies to Google workers around the world, including offices in California, India, the U.K., and Brazil. The patchwork of regional reopening policies adds to the difficulty of making plans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other tech companies will take a hard look at sector giant Google’s policy before determining their own course of action, but Pichai was not the first Silicon Valley CEO to extend his company’s work-from-home options. Social networking veteran Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) made its remote-work policy permanent way back in May.
Author: Anders Bylund