Coronavirus live updates: DHS warns of security risks posed by online learning – National News


mrtom-uk/iStockBy WILLIAM MANSELL, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — A pandemic of the novel coronavirus has now killed nearly 200,000 people worldwide.

More than 2.8 million people across the globe have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new respiratory virus, according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The actual numbers are believed to be much higher due to testing shortages, many unreported cases and suspicions that some governments are hiding the scope of their nations’ outbreaks.

Since the first cases were detected in China in December, the United States has become the worst-affected country, with more than 905,000 diagnosed cases and at least 51,949 deaths.

Here’s how the news is developing Saturday. All times Eastern:

9:59 a.m.: DHS warns of ‘opportunity’ for criminal activity created by online learning

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned officials in law enforcement and school systems of the security risks posed by cybercriminals and cyber-actors who might want to exploit what has become the new normal of online learning under COVID-19, according to the notice reviewed by ABC News.

“We assess cybercriminals likely view schools’ greater reliance on eLearning tools due to the pandemic as an opportunity to conduct a range of criminal activity against educational institutions, faculty and students who use these tools,” the April 24 document says.

The risks outlined include theft of login information, identify theft, the ability of cybercriminals to obtain discarded computers that still had cached data on their drives, extortion by using confidential student or employee data to blackmail either the educational institution or an individual, or denial-of-service attacks in exchange for ransom payments.

The notice warned that the theft of login information could be used for either profit or by foreign governments, like Iran, to gain access to data they could not otherwise view. The theft of one’s identity could also be used for profit or by foreign governments like Russia, whose intelligence services have previously bought online ID info for spying and intel-gathering operations, according to the notice.

Cyber experts at the DHS said that these threats are not hypothetical, every type of attack has been seen.

They are warning employees who work on security and defense of IT systems to take proper precautions.

6:33 a.m.: WHO warns against ‘immunity passports’

In response to some governments suggesting that detection of COVID-19 antibodies could serve as the basis of an “immunity passport” that would allow people to travel or return to work assuming they are protected from contracting again or spreading the coronavirus, the World Health Organization issued a warning that said such a program is not backed up by scientific evidence.

“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” the WHO said in a statement Friday.

No study, as of April 24, has evaluated whether the presence of antibodies guarantees immunity to subsequent infection of COVID-19 in humans, the organization said.

The WHO said people who have tested positive might be prone to ignore public health advice and “increase the risks of continued transmission” to other people.

The warning comes as some states in the U.S. look to ease social distancing restrictions and to let some nonessential businesses reopen.

States like Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, while all taking a different approach, are now reopening businesses to jumpstart their economies. Georgia, despite criticism from President Donald Trump, will allow many businesses to reopen this week, including tattoo parlors, movie theaters, bowling alleys and more.

5:20 a.m.: 138 inmates in Colorado prison test positive

At least 138 inmates at the Sterling Correctional Facility in Colorado have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Department of Corrections, and that number will likely rise soon.

“Given the insidious nature of this virus, we had suspected that despite seeing a relatively low number of inmates with symptoms, the number of positives was potentially much higher,” Department of Corrections Executive Director Dean Williams said in a statement Friday. “That is exactly why we conducted this large scale testing, so that we can continue to isolate, monitor and treat any inmates who were positive and try to mitigate the spread to others inside the facility.”

At least 473 symptomatic and asymptomatic inmates were tested for the novel coronavirus last week. Of those, only 255 results have been returned; 138 were positive, 104 were negative, 12 were inconclusive and one was unsatisfactory. The state is still waiting for the results of 218 inmate tests.

Inside the prison, inmates are largely kept in their cells to help slow the spread of the virus, the state said. Outside of showering or using the restroom, they remain in their cells. All meals and medications are delivered to inmates during the quarantine.

The facility previously had eight inmates that tested positive.

Prisons across the U.S. are struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19 inside their walls. At the Rikers Island jail in New York City, 367 inmates have tested positive for the virus while 235 detainees in custody at Cook County Jail in Illinois are currently positive for COVID-19.

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