a bad thing gets worse
March 26, 2020

Rikers Island — New York City's main jail that's supposed to be closed by 2026 — is a natural hotbed for coronavirus spread. Beds are closer than the CDC-recommended 6 feet apart, facilities are entirely shared, and prisoners are shuffled around in large groups, Slate notes. And as Brooklyn Defender Services, an advocacy group providing legal defense, reports, there are plenty of reasons to believe the complex is home to more than the 52 cases it has reported so far.

Brooklyn Defender Services' clients in Rikers have so far reported "overflowing sewage in a housing unit" that was used "before, during, and after the incident;" "squalid conditions" that staff refuse to clean out of fear of catching COVID-19; "symptomatic people not being tested for COVID-19;" a total lack of soap; and many more disturbing conditions. People who were in contact with a guard now believed to have COVID-19 weren't given any precautions to prevent spread, and many are now symptomatic, Brooklyn Defender Services also said in a Thursday press release.

With cramped cases and new people coming and going every day, prisons across the U.S. are at high risk for coronavirus spread. That's prompted calls for releasing elderly and other at-risk prisoners; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has so far ordered 300 prisoners released from Rikers amid the pandemic. Kathryn Krawczyk

March 24, 2020

As if the World Health Organization didn't have enough to worry about.

The WHO is currently leading the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 382,000 people and left nearly 17,000 dead as of Tuesday. But it's also contending with more than double the cyberattacks it's used to, along with disinformation campaigns it has to combat, Reuters reports.

One major hacking operation caught and fought off involved a sophisticated attempt to mimic the WHO's email servers and steal system passwords from employees, Reuters learned from cybersecurity expert Alexander Urbelis. Urbelis said he didn't know who was behind the attack, but two sources told Reuters they believed a group of elite hackers known as DarkHotel was responsible. WHO Chief Information Security Officer Flavio Aggio confirmed the attempt happened, but said it was unsuccessful.

That's just one example among a "more than twofold increase in cyberattacks" the WHO has seen in these trying times, Reuters reports via a senior agency official. And while combating the coronavirus itself is plenty to deal with, the WHO also has to worry about thousands of websites purporting to share COVID-19 advice that is either false or downright malicious — Urbelis says he's seen about 2,000 crop up every day. Read more at Reuters. Kathryn Krawczyk

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