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Census Count in Massachusetts Becomes Difficult

One problem that Massachusetts is facing during the coronavirus pandemic is that they have to conduct a census this year but the policy of social isolation has made it quite difficult to knock on every door. However, Secretary of State William Galvin’s office came up with a solution and urged the communities to use reverse-911 calls to collect data from the residents. The census would be recorded online so the workers would not have to risk their lives to go to every house during the social distancing regulation. Communities like North Adams, Brockton and Westwood have confirmed that they will follow the procedure as soon as the office gives them the go-ahead, according to Galvin. Source; National Interest "Every person who responds to their census now is helping to reduce the need for a census worker to go door-to-door later,” Galvin said in a statement Wednesday. Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QAC) have been set up in some parts of Massachusetts by nonprofit organizations so minorities who have been ignored in the past can get a chance to register themselves online. Also, these assistance centers provide help in multiple languages so that people feel comfortable about the information collected and can provide accurate data. The offices have to pause operations right now and will remain closed till May 4th under the order from the governor's executive council as all nonessential businesses have been shut down. Joel Rivera, senior campaign organizer at the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said that nonprofits have already set up the assistance centers and the staff is calling people with low self-response rates. Source: ABC News So far QACs offer assistance in 12 languages but Vatsady Sivongxay, a Statewide Complete Count co-ordinator at MIRA stated that the number of languages is still not enough because people speak over 350 different languages all over America. She suggested that people should look at Census Bureau’s Language Guidelines on Youtube that offer additional languages so they can come prepared for the census. “We are the trusted voices to our community members, and it’s much easier and more comfortable for our community members to hear it from us," she said. Usually, census employees begin their work in July by visiting people who fail to respond to the online forms. However, with the current situation we cannot say for sure if that would happen this year because even though census workers come under essential workers as noted by state and federal guidelines, it would be a risk to put them in danger

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Zoom Makes Your Computer Easy to Hack

Zoom has surely received a lot of fame during the social isolation period but every day, there are new questions about the security and privacy of the application. The video conference website was questioned recently about their end-to-end encryption but it turns out there are more loopholes than you can imagine. Source: Mashable According to BleepingComputer, Zoom allows hackers to get access to the user's Windows login information. This happens because Zoom converts Window networking UNC (Universal Naming Convention) paths into clickable links. So if you click on such a link, your Windows will reveal the password and login username to the attacker. The only good news is that the leaked password is hashed but how long can that encryption last? Password recovery tools are available everywhere today and can easily decipher the code with apps such as Hashcat. Source; Gadgets.ndtv This loophole was discovered by security researcher @_g0dmode and another security researcher, Matthew Hickey confirmed it. Hickey also informed the users that if anyone is trying to hack your computer, they can easily launch programs on the system using this vulnerability. The good thing is that Windows, by default, will notify you of the breach before it opens the sent program. Out of all the worst things we have found about Zoom so far, this fault tops all because it's a no-brainer. Anyone with even surface knowledge of programming can use it to manipulate the data of the victim’s computers and there is nothing much you can do. Source: Tech Crunch The only way to stop it is to not click on unknown links and use the filter in Windows security settings so you are informed about any such situation beforehand. However, Zoom still needs to take the issue into account and modify the way their chat handles links.  Meanwhile, if you want to stay safe, follow the instructions mentioned below and make your computer secure.  Go to Computer Configuration -> Windows Settings -> Security Settings -> Local Policies -> Security Options -> Network security: Restrict NTLM: Outgoing NTLM traffic to remote servers and set to "Deny all". As the popularity of the application grows, hackers are having a field day with all the privacy issues that make Zoom users an easy target. The website can leak your pictures from the cloud to unknown parties due to numerous glitches in their software so they should fix all the problems soon before the data from their app is compromised. 

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Prince Charles Has Recovered From Coronavirus and Shares a Message of Hope with People

The Prince next in line to the throne has recovered from coronavirus and he has a message for all those who are concerned about him. He remained in social isolation for seven days as prescribed by the doctors but the period has ended and The Prince of Wales has emerged victorious. He thanked all the people who sent him messages during the tough period and also showed support for paramedics and health care staff members who are risking their lives to protect others. Source: Free Malaysia Today "Having recently gone through the process of contracting this coronavirus, luckily with relatively mild symptoms, I now find myself on the other side of the illness, but still in no less a state of social distance and general isolation," the Prince said. "As we are all learning, this is a strange, frustrating, and often distressing experience, when the presence of family and friends is no longer possible and the normal structures of life are suddenly removed." "My wife and I are thinking particularly of all those who have lost their loved ones in such very difficult and abnormal circumstances and those having to endure sickness, isolation, and loneliness," he added. Source: Twitter Prince Charles also notified the viewers that he is funding the organization Age UK while his wife is the patron of Silver Line and both these charities are working to make the lives of senior citizens easier. "Our hearts go out to all those older people throughout this country who are now experiencing great difficulty," he said. "However, we also know that in every community up and down this land where people of all ages are being affected by this virus, there are truly wonderful neighbors, individuals, and groups of volunteers who are providing ceaseless care and attention to those most at risk." He requested the locals to remain hopeful in the face of difficulty and said, "As a nation, we are faced by a profoundly challenging situation, which we are only too aware threatens the livelihoods, businesses, and welfare of millions of our fellow citizens. None of us can say when this will end, but end it will. Until it does, let us try and live with hope, and with faith in ourselves and each other, look forward to better times to come." You can watch the full video here:

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What Does Social Isolation Mean For Children?

A lot of jokes are going around on the internet about how it is difficult for working parents to entertain their children during social isolation and that they keep disturbing them during important calls from work. From a parent's perspective, this is understandable but having a childhood where you are restricted to your house and cannot meet your friends is a little depressing. Source: Daily Excelsior Just imagine that you are 5 and want to go biking with your friends but parents say no because there is coronavirus outside. You want to visit your grandma and hug her but parents say no because she is old and therefore more prone to the virus. You want to go to class and show the amazing artwork to your teacher but parents say no because schools are closed as coronavirus can spread anywhere. The stay at home rule is particularly difficult for children as they are going through the age where the brain is still developing and so it is naturally curious to explore everything in sight. It is tough for adults to make them understand that going outdoors can be a risk to their health but when boredom takes a toll, kids act out. This is why many parents find it difficult to keep their kids busy with indoor activities since their work also demands attention and the burden of paying bills also keeps increasing with each day. Source: No Isolation Even though kids who are in their early teens can keep in contact with their friends via Zoom or other platforms, nothing can replace the warmth of meeting them in person and going on adventures. For older teens, their future looks uncertain because most of their exams are delayed and college applications are not going to respond anytime soon as all the institutions around the world have closed. Now imagine you are standing on the brink of adulthood with already so many questions related to identity and future but suddenly everything goes blank. Source: Twitter No one is sure about the duration of social isolation as the models prepared by researchers can only predict the situation and experts believe that this prolonged period can greatly affect children’s development. They might experience stress and anxiety and kids with disabilities who have learned to socialize and interact with other neurotypical humans might go through certain setbacks as there is no support of social services. Other than that, children who live in abusive households where domestic voice and hitting your kids are a norm, might experience extreme mental health issues so it is important to keep checking on children around you. Source: Nami.org Mental illnesses are already quite prevalent today in millennials and Generation Z and many kids rely on weekly or monthly sessions with their therapists to function properly. However, now that this would not be a possibility, psychologists are expected to remain in touch with their patients especially if they are young and struggling with the isolation. Jenny Radesky, a developmental behavioral pediatrician and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan, says "When it comes to kids, they are such sensory beings. They live with their whole bodies. This is a really sudden and difficult change for them, because it’s not the same to see your peers through a video chat or a Zoom meeting." So even though you have a lot of responsibilities, it is important to show compassion towards your children and keep an eye around for those kids who usually face issues at home.

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Rescued Koalas From the Bushfire Finally Return to Their Homes

We finally have some good news amid the coronavirus chaos! Everyone remembers the bushfires in Australia that burned most of the jungles down and affected millions of animals in the region. According to wildlife authorities, the country has slowly released koalas back into their natural environment after months of destruction that surrounded the animals. Source: Weather In the Kanangra-Boyd National Park in the state of New South Wales, four adult Koalas and one brand new joey have been released. During the bushfires, they were rescued from the Blue Mountains area and were put in the shelter with 8 other koalas in Sydney’s Taronga Zoo since January. Others will be released soon due to the risk of coronavirus outbreak so this month, 13 koalas will return to their homes safely. In the destruction that reached its peak in January, almost 10,000 koalas that amount to a third of the total koala population of NSW were killed. The drought in the summer proved to be even more dangerous and the koala hospitals in the country received an overwhelming amount of emergencies, mostly for burns and dehydration.Source: Time After therapy and proper treatment, four fortunate Koalas along with a newly acquired joey have been taken to the wild by Sydney-based not-for-profit wildlife conservation organization Science for Wildlife with the assistance of San Diego Zoo Global, the U.S. zoo's nonprofit that works with partners on international conservation projects. Source: NewYork Post "While they have coped well in care we are delighted to finally send our koalas home," said Dr. Kellie Leigh, executive director of Science for Wildlife in a press statement. "We have been busy assessing the burnt area that we rescued them from, to establish when the conditions have improved enough that the trees can support them again. The recent rains have helped and there is now plenty of new growth for them to eat, so the time is right. We will be radio-tracking them and keeping a close eye on them to make sure that they settle in OK." The Blue Mountains Koala Project has been in action for five years now after it was set up by San Diego Zoo Global and Science for wildlife and it aims to provide resources in the wildlife to increase the population of Koalas in the region. They worked towards removing as many koalas as they could when the bushfires broke out in New South Wales and even though the number of species rescued wasn't high, it still helped in restoring some of their population. Source: New York Post "During the massive fires, as 80 percent of the World Heritage Area burnt, we were at risk of losing the entire koala population at this site and so that’s what drove us to try something so radical and pull these koalas out before the fire hit," said Dr. Leigh.Dr. Leigh also talks about the devices they used to track the location as she said, "The radio-tracking devices that enabled us to find the koalas quickly and move them from in front of the fire will now allow us to follow them and find out more about how koalas use the landscape after fire, including where else we might find pockets of surviving koalas. That will help us to plan a future for koalas under climate change, where we expect more frequent and intense fires." Source: Queensland Times Climate change has caused many animals in the world to go extinct and this bushfire would have wiped out the entire evolution of koala bears if not for the rescue operations carried out by the authorities. They have been declared “functionally extinct” by the Australia Koala Foundation so wildlife organizations are doing everything in their power to increase their population.

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Zoom Does Not Support End to End Encryption

The application, Zoom has become quite popular recently as more and more businesses are moving towards work from home. However, many employees are worried whether their boss can monitor most of their activities on the system or not. Previous researches have revealed Zoom to be an unsafe platform but due to lack of options, people are forced to use it for work and online learning. Source: Metro The policy of privacy on the website and in its security white paper states that Zoom has end-to-end encryption for the meetings so people should not be worried about the security of the application. However, new research from The Intercept proved it to be a lie. A spokesperson from Zoom was questioned by The Intercept about the security of the video conferences and whether they support end-to-end encryptions or not. The spokesperson said, “Currently, it is not possible to enable E2E encryption for Zoom video meetings.” Well, so why does it say the opposite on the website? Source: The Intercept Basically, the application uses TLS encryptions that have a similar approach to those that companies use to secure HTTP websites. This means that whatever data is exchanged between you and other Zoom’s servers is protected just like the content on Gmail and Facebook. However, end-to-end encryption means that your information is not even visible to the company itself like WhatsApp states on its website and in every chatbox. So this particular feature is not supported by Zoom and this is why using the term “end-to-end encryption” is quite unethical. However, unsurprisingly, Zoom stresses that they are not misleading the users. A spokesperson said, “When we use the phrase ‘End to End’ in our other literature, it is in reference to the connection being encrypted from Zoom endpoint to Zoom endpoint,” and that “content is not decrypted as it transfers across the Zoom cloud.”Source: The Intercept The in-meeting text chat on Zoom does support end-to-end because according to the company, they cannot decrypt the messages exchanged between the users. The spokesperson also said that the data collected from the users usually resolves around IP addresses, OS details in device details and this is done solely to optimize performance. So, employees do not have any contact with the information that users transfer in their chat boxes and therefore, there is no chance of any sort of data being sold. However, when they were questioned about being forced to share the information for legal proceedings by the authorities, Zoom refused to give a statement.  

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