HP unveils advanced security for remote workers — and shows how to disinfect your laptop

HP unveils advanced security for remote workers — and shows how to disinfect your laptop

HP has unveiled advanced security for businesses and their remote workforces and disclosed an extensive guide to disinfecting your laptop and other computer equipment.

The new offerings include HP Pro Security Edition, HP Proactive Security, and HP Sure Click Enterprise. These are aimed at the security threats that evolve and disrupt business every day.

With the recent surge of remote workers — due to work-from-home rules forced upon us by COVID-19 — HP said we must all be aware of the increased risks of working from home. Over 80% of home office routers have been found to be vulnerable to potential cyberattacks.

Emails also pose a significant risk to organizations, with over 90% of PC infections originating from attachments and 96% of security  breaches not discovered until months later. There are 5 billion new threats per month, based on HP’s estimates.

“Our HP Pro Security Edition takes Sure Sense and Sure Click and bundles [them] with our system,” said Andy Rhodes, global head of commercial PCs, in a press briefing. “Endpoints are still an enormous risk — 90% of infections originate with emails. Every user is at risk here.”

HP Pro Security for small businesses.

With public health concerns over COVID-19 spreading worldwide, HP wants customers to have the information they need to effectively clean HP devices and maintain a healthy work environment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cleaning surfaces, followed by disinfection, as a best practice for the prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.

In fact, HP has issued its own whitepaper for cleaning your devices.

“We get asked [about] this every day,” said Rhodes. “If you use the wrong disinfectant, you can actually damage the product.”

A CDC-recommended disinfectant that is also within HP’s cleaning guidelines is an alcohol solution consisting of 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% water.

The steps below use the CDC-recommended alcohol solution to clean high-touch, external surfaces on HP products:

  1. Wear disposable gloves made of latex (or nitrile gloves if you are latex-sensitive) when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
  2. Turn off the device and disconnect AC power (printers should be unplugged from the outlet). Remove batteries from items like wireless keyboards. Never clean a product while it is powered on or plugged in.
  3. Disconnect any external devices.
  4. Moisten a microfiber cloth with a mixture of 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% water. Do not use fibrous materials, such as paper towels or toilet paper. The cloth should be moist, but not dripping wet. (Isopropyl alcohol is sold in most stores, usually in a 70% isopropyl alcohol/30% water solution. It may also be marketed as rubbing alcohol.)
  5. Do not spray any liquids directly onto your device.
  6. Gently wipe the moistened cloth on the surfaces to be cleaned. Do not allow any moisture to drip into areas like keyboards, display panels, or USB ports located on the printer control panels, as moisture entering the inside of an electronic product can cause extensive damage to the product.
  7. Start with the display or printer control panel (if applicable) and end with any flexible cables, like power, keyboard, and USB cables.
  8. When cleaning a display screen or printer control panel, carefully wipe in one direction, moving from the top of the display to the bottom.
  9. Ensure surfaces have completely air-dried before turning the device on after cleaning. No moisture should be visible on the surfaces of the product before it is powered on.
  10. After disinfecting, copier/scanner glass should be cleaned again using an office glass cleaner sprayed onto a clean rag to remove streaking. Streaking on the copier/scanner glass from the CDC-recommended cleaning solution could cause copy quality defects.
  11. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.




Immigrants on the front lines


Immigrants on the front lines in the coronavirus fight - Axios


New data provided to Axios spells out just how outsized a role immigrants play on the high- and low-skilled ends of the economy keeping Americans alive and fed during the coronavirus crisis, Axios’ Stef Kight reports.

By the numbers: Immigrants make up an estimated 17% of the overall U.S. workforce. But the analysis by New American Economy (NAE) shows they’re more than one in four doctors, nearly half the nation’s taxi drivers and chauffeurs and a clear majority of farm workers.

  • Reporting to work in hospitals, restaurant kitchens, cabs or the fields — for jobs deemed “essential” by the government — many documented and undocumented workers are putting themselves at higher risk of COVID-19 infections.

Be smart: The share of immigrants in some health care roles are higher in states that have been hit hardest by the virus.

  • More than a third of California nurses are immigrants, as well as 29% of nurses in New York and New Jersey, according to NAE data.

Between the lines: A large percentage of farm workers, who help maintain food supplies, are unauthorized immigrants, as the New York Times reported.

  • Immigrants make up a small percentage of delivery workers nationwide, but one-third of delivery workers in New York are unauthorized immigrants, NAE director of quantitative research Andrew Lim told Axios.
  • The $2 trillion aid package does not include assistance for unauthorized immigrants.





The rich pull up the drawbridges


 Animated illustration of a drawbridge made out of a hundred dollar note being pulled up.

From hastily-chartered superyachts to fortresslike country estates, the wealthiest Americans have found places to ride out the pandemic far away from the masses.

Why it matters: The contrast between the rich vs. poor experience of coronavirus exposes class differences — in housing, access to health care, etc. — that are less obvious in normal times.

Where it stands: Even as elected officials tell us that the novel coronavirus does not discriminate — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it “the great equalizer” — it’s still true that the moneyed classes are walling themselves off and, on the whole, suffering less.

  • People with second (and third) homes have stampeded from hot spots like New York City to pastoral and less-afflicted areas — like the Hamptons, Cape Cod, Hilton Head and Palm Beach.
  • Thanks to “concierge medicine,” where people pay hefty annual fees in exchange for near-unlimited access to their doctors, the rich have been getting faster access to COVID-19 tests, plus more attention when they’re sick.

Headlines that tell the story:

  • “Chic Hamptons food stores ransacked by the wealthy amid coronavirus pandemic” (NY Post)
  • Private jets ‘pour in’ to Martha’s Vineyard as rich flee coronavirus” (The Telegraph)
  • “Billionaires are chartering superyachts for months at a time to ride out the coronavirus pandemic” (Business Insider)
  • “The U.S. has a shortage of coronavirus tests, so the ultra-wealthy are paying concierge doctors to do their own,” (Business Insider)

What they’re saying: “There is an undercurrent of unequal sacrifice,” Chuck Collins, a senior scholar at the progressive Institute for Policy Studies, tells Axios.

Seasonal vacation resorts don’t have the doctors, hospital beds and other resources to care for throngs of sick people — prompting calls for the moneyed interlopers (renters and owners alike) to go home.

  • The mayor of Honolulu wants the Trump administration to suspend nonessential travel to Hawaii.
  • The governor of New Jersey is urging people not to come to the Jersey Shore — even enlisting Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino to spread the “stay home” word.
  • The chiefs of Nantucket Cottage Hospital (which has 15 beds) and Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (25 beds) are asking people to keep off the islands.
  • Angry Cape Cod residents are circulating a (probably doomed) petition to close the bridges to their area.

While the wealthy were among the first in the U.S. to contract the virus (as they’re more apt to travel abroad), the brunt of the pandemic has hurt the working poor.

  • Per the WSJ: “The new coronavirus has struck hardest in working-class neighborhoods in New York City’s outer boroughs, city data shows, underlining how the pandemic has ravaged densely packed lower-income areas where social-distancing guidelines have proved difficult to implement.”

People who live in poverty are more likely to have underlying illnesses that make them more susceptible to coronavirus — asthma, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes.

  • “Income in the United States is our pre-existing condition,” Collins said. “This infection is landing on an extremely unequal society — much more unequal than 40 years ago.”

A tale of two pandemics: As soon as NYC schools closed, real estate agents were flooded with calls from people begging to rent houses in the Hamptons — where a single summer’s lease can easily cost $100,000 — immediately and sight unseen.

  • “You have people calling in and saying, ‘We’re going to be in a car tomorrow, give me a house that I can move into,’ ” Eddie Shapiro, founder and CEO of Nest Seekers International, tells Axios. “We’ve never seen that.”

To drive there, the renters would have had to pass through Queens — the city’s hardest-hit borough — where “apocalyptic” conditions at a 545-bed public hospital in Elmhurst have turned the neighborhood into a poster child for the virus’ wrath.






The Memo: Scale of economic crisis sends shudders through nation


Pandemic derails resilient US economy | TheHill

New data released Thursday revealed the scale of the economic devastation wrought by the coronavirus crisis — and experts say there is no end in sight.

More than 6.6 million new unemployment claims were filed during the week ending March 28, according to the Department of Labor. The figure was double that of the previous week, which had itself been by far the highest since records began.

The stark reality is that roughly 10 million people have been dumped from their jobs in two weeks. A previously robust economy has been scythed down by the virus. A nation that had been enjoying its lowest unemployment rate for decades is now virtually certain to see jobless totals surpass those of the Great Recession a decade ago.

“The present economic situation is awful,” said Jason Furman, a Harvard University professor who served as chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. “The data is just telling us what we can see with our own eyes — there is very little business happening.”

Economists who had already been deeply worried about the immediate outlook are now wondering if their earlier projections were in fact too rosy.

“In our earlier scenario, we had expected 6.5 million job losses by May,” said Beth Ann Bovino, the chief U.S. economist at Standard & Poor’s. That figure will be exceeded, she now believes, given that there were “more lockdowns, more business closures and more businesses just trying to keep themselves alive” by laying off workers.

Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, said that even the 10 million figure for new unemployment claims was “likely a massive undercount” of actual losses because, during that period, self-employed people and workers in the so-called “gig economy” were generally not eligible to apply. This is changing as a consequence of the package recently passed by Congress that extends eligibility for unemployment benefits, as well as providing other aid for businesses and individuals.

“Our estimate is that by the end of June, 20 million people will have lost their jobs — and I am wondering if even that is optimistic,” Shierholz said.

The political ramifications of such a huge economic shock are unknowable.

President Trump had been looking forward to using the economy as his strongest card as he seeks a second term in November. That card has been shredded.

Trump has promised repeatedly during his White House briefings on the crisis that the nation can bounce back very fast once the public health dangers have receded.

Trump’s approval ratings have also ticked up modestly since the crisis began in many polls. He may be benefitting from the traditional “rallying around the flag” effect that has occurred in previous moments of crisis.

President George W. Bush, for example, hit 90 percent approval in a Gallup poll — the highest result for any president in the polling organization’s history — right after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In a statement on Thursday, probable Democratic nominee Joe Biden hit Trump for “failing to prepare our nation” for the ramifications of the coronavirus crisis. Biden called on Trump to allow open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act and also jabbed at Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for having referred to previous unemployment figures as “not relevant.”

In response, Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh blasted back at Biden for “ineffectively sniping from the sidelines, stumbling through television interviews, and hoping for relevance and political gain.”

Economic experts caution that Trump’s promises of a v-shaped recovery, in which the nation jolts itself back into strong economic shape quickly, are almost certainly unrealistic. It will not be a matter of the nation simply rolling the shutters back up and returning to business as usual.

“The economy is not symmetrical,” said Furman. “It is easier to separate someone from a job than to connect someone to a job. In recessions, the unemployment rate can go up very quickly and it comes down very slowly. The worry is that this will be like that.”

Several economic experts who spoke with The Hill made similar points, unprompted, as to the ways the federal government could ease the crisis.

One refrain was that huge assistance needs to be made available to states. States are generally required to balance their budgets. In a situation like the current one, where their tax revenue is cratering, this means they are obligated to severely cut spending — something that most economists believe would deepen and prolong the recession.

Another theme was the need to tie together financial assistance for businesses and the retention of employees.

The recently passed stimulus package makes some effort to do that, particularly in the case of small businesses. The Paycheck Protection Program extends loans to small businesses based upon eight weeks of payroll costs plus an additional 25 percent of the total.

The payroll portion of the loans would be forgiven — rendering them in effect a grant, not a loan — so long as the workforce was maintained at existing levels.

Economic experts praise the principle but worry that the total amount of money in the pot for these loans — $349 billion — may not be enough. 

“The small business subsidies will be critical,” said Steven Hamilton, an assistant professor of economics at The George Washington University. “The government needs to get the word out on those, and Congress will likely need to pass an expansion both to adequately fund the existing scheme and to make the scheme more generous to businesses to keep them from laying off workers.”

The public seems to share the view that the aid package, which also includes checks of up to $1,200 for individuals, is a move in the right direction — but unlikely to suffice.

A CBS News poll released late Thursday afternoon indicated 81 percent of Americans support the recent legislation but 57 percent also say it likely won’t be enough.

The same trepidation is shared by the experts, given the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus and the economic crisis it has created.

“It’s like nothing we have ever seen before,” said Shierholz.





Federal pandemic money fell for years. Trump’s budgets didn’t help


PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) | Twitter


  • Federal support to build state and local capacity to manage a new viral crisis fell by 50% after 2003.
  • The decline in federal aid spans three presidencies and many sessions of Congress.
  • President Donald Trump sought $100 million in cuts that would have made the situation harder.

President Donald Trump’s critics have charged that he undermined efforts that could have helped the nation respond faster and better to the coronavirus. He’s been criticized for downgrading the focus on pandemic threats on the National Security Council and chastised for seeking budget cuts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That isn’t the full story of U.S. pandemic preparedness.

The broader picture is that money to prepare for this day has steadily dwindled over the past 15 years — across three presidents and many sessions of Congress.

The funds for pandemics remained about the same under Trump (and would have been lower if his budgets were enacted). But compared with where funding stood in 2003, support to build state and local capacity has fallen by half.

As hospitals and public health agencies aimed for leaner, more efficient operations, the combination of fewer federal dollars and market pressures left them with little cushion to meet the explosive demands of the novel coronavirus.

Over the years, Washington put more emphasis on fighting predictable problems, like the seasonal flu, and outright aggression in the form of chemical, biological and radiological terrorism.

Sandro Galea, dean of Boston University’s School of Public Health, said people like him have been hamstrung in the debate.

“Public health has been on the defensive,” Galea said. “There’s been no space except for talk of bioterrorism. The discussion about investing in the public health system has been utterly sidelined.”

The long-term decline

Frontline readiness for a pandemic depends on many factors.

There have to be enough people with the right skills; enough beds, equipment and materials to treat patients; and the right practices to coordinate efforts across a region. Federal money helps support all of that.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distributes grants to state and local public health agencies, labs and hospitals. In nominal dollars, the funding for the CDC’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness grants went from $939 million in 2003 to $675 million in 2020.

Private health providers get money through a hospital preparedness program within the Health and Human Services Department. It helps local coalitions of hospitals, public health agencies and emergency managers plan and get ready for a sudden health threat. That money went from $515 million to $275 million in the same 17-year period.

Corrected for inflation, combined spending went from over $2 billion in 2003 to a bit under $1 billion in 2020.

These programs came to the fore after the Sept. 11 attacks when concern over bioterrorism spiked. For lawmakers, the concern was personal — letters tainted with anthrax reached Capitol Hill.

But the money gradually faded, and the capacity of state and local public health departments and labs did not keep pace with the likelihood of a viral disease like COVID-19.

“Health departments can’t retain workforce or modernize their disease surveillance and laboratory capacity without adequate, long-term funding,” said Dara Lieberman, director of government relations with Trust for America’s Health, a public health advocacy group. “Today, we’re paying the price.”

Local health systems needed to do their part, but the federal government was uniquely positioned to help.

“The purchasing power of the federal government is second to none, and it has failed to stockpile or otherwise negotiate pipelines to get access to the personal protective gear and medical equipment that it has known with certainty would be needed in a respiratory pandemic,” said Ellen Carlin at Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security.

But the news hasn’t been all bad. 

After the Ebola scare in 2014, Washington and the states showed renewed interest in preparing for a naturally occurring viral threat.

Congress provided a bit of extra money, and according to a Health and Human Services study the improvement was striking: In 2014, about 70% of hospital administrators said they were unprepared for an emerging infectious disease like Ebola. Three years later, only 14% said they weren’t ready.

But hospital leaders also warned that it was hard for them to maintain that level “given competing priorities for hospital resources and staff time.”

Local hospitals and public health agencies have come a long way since 2003, said Crystal Watson, assistant professor, at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and former staffer at the Homeland Security Department.

But she said they faced multiple pressures. In addition to falling federal support, Watson said the demand to maintain a healthy bottom line helped shape the situation today.

“Hospitals are under pressure to be efficient,” Watson said. “They don’t stockpile tons of equipment and materials and they don’t have tons of empty beds because that is not profitable. When you need more supplies, and more personnel, that’s when you learn what you lack.”

Today, Watson said, the lesson is clear.

“In retrospect, none of this has been funded at the level it should have been,” she said.

A thinly stocked stockpile

This crisis has also revealed the cracks in the Strategic National Stockpile, the current go-to source for ventilators, masks and other essential needs. States have clamored for supplies, and so far, deliveries have lagged far behind demand.

During her time with Homeland Security, Watson contributed to an assessment of the Strategic National Stockpile. Watson said the stockpile was designed with a long list of threats in mind, from chemical and biological terrorism to natural disasters. Something like COVID-19 would be just one threat among many.

“It’s primary purpose, and where it had more of a focus, was on bioterrorism,” Watson said. “That’s understandable. Who else but the government is going to buy a vaccine to protect the population against smallpox?”

The most recent strategic plan for the stockpile reflects the competing demands.

It mentions emerging infectious disease 15 times. Preparing for anthrax shows up nearly 50 times.

Criticisms of Trump need context

As the first cases emerged in the United States, Democrats criticized Trump’s preparedness on two fronts: He eliminated a key office in the National Security Council, and he tried to cut the CDC’s budget. 

The budget claims have merit. The complaints about the National Security Council  are reasonable, but could be more organizational streamlining than a loss of capability.

Until the spring of 2018, the National Security Council had an office that focused on global health and biodefense. When John Bolton took the lead on the council, he crafted an overall organizational reshuffle.

The functions of the global health division were absorbed into the council’s division that dealt with weapons of mass destruction and biodefense. The White House established a Biodefense Steering Committee headed by the Health and Human Services secretary, and issued a National Biodefense Strategy.

At the time, the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank said the White House should name a senior-level leader to oversee the policy. The White House did not follow that advice.

The Trump campaign pointed to arguments from Bolton and the former senior director of the council, Tim Morrison, rejecting the idea that they lost their focus on this kind of threat.

On the budget, Trump unsuccessfully pressed for cuts in programs that relate directly to the current crisis. In his 2018 budget, he proposed cutting over $100 million from programs aimed specifically at strengthening public hospitals and labs — a 17% reduction. For fiscal year 2020, he wanted to cut $100 million, again about 17%, from programs that target emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases.

Congress ignored the president’s budget plans and largely kept the flow of dollars steady, even increasing them slightly. 

In 2018, Congress created a new Infectious Diseases Rapid Response Reserve Fund to provide quick money between the time when a crisis strikes and Congress delivers aid with real heft. The fund held $135 million when HHS secretary Alex Azar declared a health emergency in early February, which freed up that money.

That doesn’t mean the Trump administration’s preferences had no effect, said Tony Mazzaschi, with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, a group that lobbies Congress on behalf of public health schools. The threat of cuts made the status quo seem like a win when it wasn’t.

“One of the perverse things that happens is the public health community has to play defense and can’t argue for increases,” Mazzaschi said.