Holiday Weekend Update

Photo by Dane Deaner on Unsplash

Both Houses of Congress are on State / District work breaks this week.

From the COVID-19 front, the Wall Street Journal offers two important reports:

  • As the Delta variant of the coronavirus surges through the United Kingdom [U.K.], almost half of the country’s recent Covid-19 deaths are of people who have been vaccinated. But doctors and scientists aren’t sounding the alarm about the apparently high proportion of deaths among the vaccinated population. On the contrary, they say the figures so far offer reassurance that vaccines offer substantial protection against the variant, particularly after two doses. Delta, first identified in India, has since spread to at least 85 countries, including the U.S., where it is now estimated to be the most common variant.
  • Also here are the top line recommendations for what parents with unvaccinated children should know this summer: 1. Keep unvaccinated kids’ masks on indoors; 2. Look out for regional hotspots; 3. weigh travel plans carefully / stay closer to home; 4. consider higher precautions for higher risk children; 5. get your family vaccinated as soon as a family member becomes eligible; and check local recommendations before traveling.

From the cybersecurity front, the Journal updates us on the Kaseya ransomware situation:

The hackers were able to distribute ransomware by exploiting several vulnerabilities in the VSA software, a Kaseya spokeswoman said.

One of them, discovered by a Dutch security researcher, was in the process of being patched by Kaseya before the ransomware attack occurred, said Victor Gevers, chairman of the volunteer-run security group, the Dutch Institute for Vulnerability Disclosure.

“Kaseya understood the problem and they were rushing to produce a patch,” Mr. Gevers said. Mr. Gevers said the bug was due to a simple error in the company’s code.

About 50 of Kaseya’s customers were compromised and about 40 of those customers were sellers of IT services, known as managed service providers, Mr. Voccola said. By breaking into MSP’s, the hackers were able to expand their impact, performing what security experts call a supply-chain attack.

Security companies estimate that hundreds of organizations, all of them customers of those 40 or so service providers, have now been hit by the ransomware, making it one of the most widespread incidents to date. But almost all of them are small and medium-size organizations, cybersecurity experts said, with the impact often not immediately apparent to the wider public. * * *

The hackers behind the latest incident are known as the REvil ransomware group. They are asking for $70 million to unlock all the affected systems but victims of the group can also pay amounts varying between $25,000 and $5 million directly to unlock their systems even if nobody pays the $70 million.

In an eye-catching tidbit, Beckers Hospital Review reports that the staff at Fort Worth’s Andrews Women’s Hospital delivered 107 babies over a 91 hour period last week. A COVID baby boom?

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