Coronavirus COVID-19 Intelwars lockdowns Prejudice Racism Study UK working from home

Study claims working from home can lead to increase in racism and prejudice

As the coronavirus spreads throughout the world and many have been forced to transition from working in offices to working from home, a new study claims that working from home actually can lead to an increase in racism and prejudice, BBC News reported.

What are the details?

The study — conducted by polling company Survation for the Woolf Institute, which researches interfaith relations — surveyed 11,701 people in England and Wales last year, the outlet said.

Institute founder Ed Kessler told BBC News that as more people work from home, they risk going “back into isolated silos,” and he added that offices and workplaces are “vital” for improving community relations.

The study suggests that of those who work in shared offices, three-quarters (76%) — regardless of ethnicity — were in an ethnically diverse setting, the outlet said, adding that unemployed people are 37% more likely to only have friends from their own ethnic group.

In addition, the study warns that without the establishment of alternative settings to offices, opportunities for social mixing between different religious and ethnic groups will be greatly reduced, BBC News said.

The study also examined opinions on diversity, the outlet said:

  • While nearly three-quarters of non-black or non-Asian respondents were comfortable with a close relative marrying a black or Asian person (74% and 70%), fewer than half (44%) said they were comfortable with the idea of a close relative marrying a Muslim person, BBC News noted.
  • The report also indicates a majority of Muslims were uncomfortable with a close relative marrying a Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, or Sikh person — or someone of no religion. Around a third of Muslim respondents (38%) said they were uncomfortable with a close relative marrying a Christian person, the outlet said.

“Muslims were both the primary target for ‘uncomfortable’ responses, but also the primary source,” the report said, BBC News noted. In other words, the study indicated Muslims are the most likely group to hold negative attitudes towards people of other religions as well as the most likely target of such attitudes, the outlet added.

Is there hope?

Hadiya Masieh, who is Muslim, became close friends with Samuel Rosengard, an Orthodox Jew, after working together, BBC News said.

Rosengard told the outlet that while he’d never held racist or Islamophobic views, he may have had “misconceptions” about Muslim communities.

“Meeting Hadiya has really helped clarify where my thinking can be askew,” he noted to BBC News.

Masieh agreed, telling the outlet that for her “it was more of a political thing about Israel and Palestine,”

But working together has led to a close friendship, BBC News noted.

“It was just a very natural relationship that we formed because we had the exact same agenda and passions,” she told the outlet. “We were both from very different backgrounds, and the idea of Israel and Palestine was a hot topic. But we were able to discuss that in a way that was understanding of each other.”

Rosengard added to BBC News, “Before COVID we would have regular discussions about these kinds of issues. And also identifying common cultural traits between Jewish and Muslim communities and areas of agreement and disagreement. Hadiya and I would often start off conversations just bumping into each other in the open plan office and then head off for a coffee. But that just doesn’t happen. So that is a loss.”

Computers corovavirus financial gain Headline News Intelwars joke Malware master boot record MBR pandemic PC political gain rewriting Safety Technology working from home

Watchout: COVID-19 Malware Can Wipe Your PC

Some malware authors have developed malware that destroys infected systems, either by wiping files or rewriting a computer’s master boot record (MBR). With help from the infosec community, ZDNet has identified at least five malware strains, some distributed in the wild, while others appear to have been created only as tests or jokes.

Rather than using the coronavirus as a means for more power (politicians) or financial gain, this malware appears to be simply destructive.

Of the four malware samples found by security researchers this past month, the most advanced were the two samples that rewrote MBR sectors.

Some advanced technical knowledge was needed to create these strains as tinkering with a master boot record is no easy feat and could easily result in systems that didn’t boot at all.

The first of the MBR-rewriters was discovered by a security researcher that goes by the name of MalwareHunterTeam, and detailed in a report from SonicWall this week. Using the name of COVID-19.exe, this malware infects a computer and has two infection stages. –ZDNet

Here’s what you will want to watch for:

In the first phase, it just shows an annoying window that users can’t close because the malware has also disabled the Windows Task Manager.

While users attempt to deal with this window, the malware is silently rewriting the computer’s master boot record behind their back. It then restarts the PC, and the new MBR kicks in, blocking users into a pre-boot screen.

Users can eventually regain access to their computers, but they’ll need special apps that can be used to recover and rebuild the MBR to a working state.

Image: SonicWall

There is another coronavirus-themed malware strain that re-wrote the MBR and it is a far more convoluted malware operation.

The malware’s primary function was to steal passwords from an infected host and then mimic ransomware to trick the user and mask its real purpose.

However, it wasn’t ransomware either. It only posed as one. Once the data-stealing operations ended, the malware entered into a phase where it rewrote the MBR, and blocked users into a pre-boot message, preventing access to their PCs. With users seeing ransom notes and then not being able to access their PCs, the last thing users would thing to do is to check if someone exfiltrated passwords from their apps.

Image: Bleeping Computer

According to analysis from SentinelOne security researcher Vitali Kremez and Bleeping Computer, the malware also contained code to wipe files on the user’s systems, but this didn’t appear to be active in the version they analyzed.

Norton anti-virus has offered tops to help keep your PC safe from these and other destructive problems. If you can, do a scan of your computer to make sure your anti-virus software is catching all the problems.

Please read the entire article by ZDNet by clicking here.