Weekend Roundup: COVID-19 Phishing; Elon Musk: Ventilator Producer?

COVID-19 is sweeping the nation, dominating the news of the week. Let’s jump into what’s going on.

Seems Like Everyone’s Working From Home 

The Bay Area—including San Francisco, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, and Alameda Counties—remains under a “shelter in place” edict, which effectively bans unessential travel. That means the majority of folks in Silicon Valley are working from home, which has been the trend for at least the past few weeks.

The situation is similar in Los Angeles, which has closed pretty much everything. In New York City, citizens are encouraged to “self-isolate” amidst a similar shutdown of most businesses. If you’re one of the millions of technologists affected by the COVID-19 crisis, here are some tips for remote work that you could find useful; nobody knows how long this will last, so establishing any kind of “office” or professional space within your home could do wonders for your productivity and peace of mind.

COVID-19 Phishing on the Rise

As you’re working from home, remain aware that phishing and malware that leverages COVID-19 fears is on the rise. Over at Ars Technica, there’s an interesting piece on how cybersecurity researchers have uncovered a number of malicious apps and malware that leverage users’ software-virus fears to facilitate delivery. Always keep in mind that cybercriminals and other bad actors are getting really good at exploiting major news events to get people to click on shady links. 

“The right brands and applications, the right time of day, the right request: We consider this social engineering at scale based on fear,” Sherrod DeGrippo, a senior director for threat research and detection at security firm Proofpoint, told Dice earlier this month. “Organizations across the globe are sending out regular communications to employees and partners around protocol around coronavirus, which gives threat actors a place to mix in their malware lures among the legitimate informational messages being sent.”

While you’re trying to avoid catching COVID-19, in other words, do your best not to catch a cyber-virus, as well.

Elon Musk (Might Be) on Ventilator Duty 

Elon Musk knows a little thing about ventilation systems. Tesla vehicles have a “Bioweapon Defense Mode” setting(which seemed like a cheeky, humorous name until, oh, last Tuesday or so) that filters the air entering your car. Meanwhile, SpaceX spends a lot of time working on life-support systems for future astronauts. So it seems natural that, as the COVID-19 crisis gains steam, people would start asking Musk to shift his enormous industrial platform to manufacturing ventilators, which people will need if they’re infected with a serious case of the virus. 

Musk seems open to the idea:

It’s too soon to say whether Musk will actually adjust his production lines to craft medical equipment, but he’s the latest tech figure who might end up enlisted in the COVID-19 fight. Meanwhile, other technologists are doing quite a bit—from creating real-time maps of the virus’s spread to offering to invest in drug research

Have a good weekend! Remember to wash your hands!