Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge Gives First On-Camera Interview Since Suffering Stroke

December 28th, 2021 | Lori Burkholder, Anchor

Watch the interview here

He shared his journey following a health scare over the summer.

“I’m getting better every day by increments. I can tell. I’m doing great. Fabulous. Better than I was a couple months ago, that’s for sure,” he said.

In his first on-camera interview since he had a stroke in June, Ridge described what his life has been like.

“A good day is when you wake up in the morning and see the sun shining. I say, ‘Thank you, God, another day to hopefully do better than I did the day before,'” he said.

The stroke affected his left side.

“I can’t do everything I want to do because of some limitations. And the good news is once the therapy is completed, I’ll be able to get back and do everything I was doing before. That’s the goal,” he said.

Ridge goes to Niagara Therapy in Erie three days a week, working on getting back what the stroke stole.

He gets special help from Hope, a dog who was named for what she gives people like Ridge.

“She’s very popular. She’s very entertaining, sometimes a bit stubborn. She’s been great. He really does love working with her,” occupational therapist Markelle Blair said.

“If I can walk out of therapy session today feeling better or stronger or more agile or better prepared for tomorrow, then I’ve had a good day in therapy,” Ridge said.

Ridge continues to improve and said it’s all about the three Ps.

“It takes patience, perseverance and practice. Part of it’s a mindset, and I hope people who watch this would say, ‘Hey, Ridge can do it, I can do it. No big deal.’ You can restore a semblance of a normal life. You can do it. You can just do it,” he said.

Ridge hopes his journey inspires others, just like those who inspired him.

“I think of my condition. I think of Bob Dole, who had very limited use of his right arm. Incredible story – one of my personal heroes. I was honored to be invited to the celebration of his life and his legacy,” he said.

When asked what Ridge wants his legacy to be, he had this answer: “I’ve been privileged to serve my community and my country in multiple ways. I just want people to know I’m grateful for the opportunity for that service and hope they take a look back, regardless of political persuasion, and say, ‘Ridge might not have been the brightest light bulb in the chandelier but we know he worked hard and we’re grateful for that.’ I hope that’s it.”

Ridge said he’s thankful for all the people who have reached out to him since his stroke. He also encouraged stroke survivors to take advantage of all the resources available because he’s proof that those resources make a difference.

Gov. Tom Ridge Attends Funeral of Sen. Bob Dole; Salutes His Legacy on Disability Rights

Friday, December 10th 2021

 

Gov. Tom Ridge, chairman of the National Organization on Disability, was in attendance today at the funeral of former U.S. Senator Bob Dole at the National Cathedral in Washington.

“Any discussion about the opportunities that exist today for people with disabilities in America must include the heroic contributions of my friend Bob Dole,” said Gov. Ridge. “Himself a World War II veteran who returned home with a disability, Sen. Dole wielded his power and influence in the Senate to advance the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, signed into law by another World War II veteran and friend, President George H.W. Bush. Sen. Dole, who at the time was the minority leader, used his bipartisan influence to push the legislation forward. It is not hyperbole to say that the ADA likely never would have passed without his support and advocacy amongst his colleagues. In fact, Sen. Tom Harkin has referred to Sen. Dole as the linchpin to the Republicans as they advanced the final language in the bill.

“Bob Dole is from America’s Greatest Generation, and his contributions are too many to count. For those of us who spend time in the disability field, and for me personally, who was privileged to cast an affirmative vote for the ADA as a congressman, his legacy will forever be remembered. And I hope that it is equally appreciated by millions of his fellow Americans who access the rights provided in the ADA every day of their lives. Myself now included.”

NOD Rallies for Companies to Commit to More Diverse and Inclusive Workforces in 2022

Annual Employment Tracker Reveals an Increase in Hiring People with Disabilities, While Self-ID Rates Decrease

 

NEW YORK (December 8, 2021) – The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is encouraging all companies to look closer at the 80-percent of working age Americans with disabilities who are not employed and to make disability inclusion part of their overall business strategy in 2022. While recent reports and results from NOD’s annual Employment Tracker are trending positive with an increase in people with disabilities entering the workforce over the last 12 months, self-identification (self-ID) rates have decreased from 4.09 in 2020 to 3.68 in 2021.

The NOD Employment Tracker is the only free assessment tool available that focuses on the workforce, to help companies better gain a deeper understanding of how their key business practices correlate to improved talent outcomes related to hiring, retention and tenure. Companies can access the free NOD Disability Employment Tracker here.

“I am cautiously optimistic and encouraged by the latest reports that show the labor force participation rate for working-aged people with disabilities has increased by 11.3 percent over the past year,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “This is tremendous progress for the disability community and for that we need to celebrate.  However, we can’t stop here. There is more work to be done to ensure that all people with disabilities feel comfortable identifying with a disability, no matter their type of disability or the environment within which they work.”

 

In its ninth year – and with companies who together employ more than 10 million Americans already taking the annual survey – the NOD Employment Tracker assists companies to make disability inclusion part of their overall business strategy and to find the right talent while removing inclusion barriers for good.  According to the 2021 Employment Tracker report, employers that track not only self-ID rates, but other talent outcome metrics, such as promotions of employees with disabilities, demonstrated self-identification rates three times higher than those that only examined self-ID.

The Tracker data also showed NOD’s Leadership Council members performed better and were more effective at implementing best practices, programs, and policies. Specifically, these members have 38% higher self ID rates and are better than non-members at adopting the most effective disability inclusion practices.

Glazer added, “I would encourage all employers to take advantage of our Employment Tracker to access how they benchmark against more than 200 participating companies and receive pertinent information to create a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

 

For 2022, NOD will continue to partner with Talmetrix, a national employee feedback, research and insights company. By using recent market research, the two organizations created a dynamic disability benchmarking tool that provides companies with the cutting-edge, outcome-based data metrics they need to build a more inclusive workforce, which is proven to enhance innovation and increase engagement with employees and customers.

 

Companies who complete the Tracker by March 11, 2022 will receive a free Scorecard report, benchmarking their performance against all other participants in key workforce inclusion areas: (Strategy, Talent Outcome Metrics, Climate & Culture, Talent Sourcing, People Practices, Workplace Tools & Accessibility, and Veterans (optional). The 2022 Scorecard reports will be available for participating companies in early summer 2022. In addition to receiving this powerful benchmarking tool, top performing companies are eligible to compete for NOD’s annual Leading Disability Employer Seal.  A list of the 2021 Leading Disability Employers can be found here.

 

ABOUT NATIONAL ORGANIZATION ON DISABILITY 

The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is a private, non-profit organization that seeks to increase employment opportunities for the 80-percent of working age Americans with disabilities who are not employed. To achieve this goal, NOD offers a suite of employment solutions, tailored to meet leading companies’ workforce needs. NOD has helped some of the world’s most recognized brands be more competitive in today’s global economy by building or enriching their disability inclusion programs. For more information about NOD and how its professional services, Leadership Council and Employment Tracker™ can help your business, visit www.NOD.org.

In Return to Campuses, Students with Disabilities Fear They’re Being ‘Left Behind’

Many are having to press their universities for accommodations — or drop classes entirely

Jessica Chaikof, 29, and her service dog, Jigg, are seen on campus at American University in D.C. on Oct. 19. Chaikof, who has Usher syndrome, is a master’s student in sociology. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

It was her first in-person class, and Chaikof had set up a second laptop and a school-provided microphone near her professor and her socially distanced classmates to transcribe the conversation in real time. She squinted to read the resulting words, but even as her three classmates got out of their seats and shouted into the microphone to try to help, the transcription service picked up little.

“It’s affecting my learning. It’s affecting my ability to do well in class,” said Chaikof, whose hearing and visual impairments are caused by Usher syndrome. “Overall, it’s been really frustrating.”

Many students welcomed the return to in-person learning, but the change has revived pre-pandemic difficulties and created new ones for some students with disabilities. Some lamented the reduction of online instruction, which allowed them to read closed captions during lectures in real time, turn their cameras off when needed, and watch recorded lectures at home and at their own pace, among its benefits.

Losing that flexibility, Chaikof and others said, has brought them physical and mental distress — and the feeling that they’re being forgotten.

“I have to work 10 times harder than my classmates just to be able to succeed, and yet I’m not being supported,” Chaikof said.

American University’s sociology department, she stressed, was helpful, but the university response has frustrated her, she said. Chaikof requested an in-person transcriber for real-time captioning, she said and had spoken with the university on multiple occasions to acquire one for her required course. An American University spokesperson said the school could provide Chaikof only remote captioning services because of a shortage of in-person transcribers and a growing demand for them.

Zandy Wong, 19, a student at Johns Hopkins University who is hard of hearing, attends a food, environment and society class Oct. 20 in Baltimore. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

Experts estimate that 1 in 8 U.S. college students have at least one disability, according to Scott Lissner, the public policy committee chair at the Association on Higher Education and Disability. Some of those students, including those with attention-deficit-related disabilities, say they found online learning harder. But overall, the return to in-person learning presents a pervasive challenge for students with disabilities as well as for every college across the country, said Felicia Nurmsen, the managing director of employer services at the National Organization on Disability.

The challenge is heightened, Nurmsen said, in state schools that have high percentages of students with disabilities and few resources. Nurmsen said most of the universities with which she has worked are still figuring out how to increase opportunities for online classes as a disability-related accommodation.

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this,” she said. “Every college has students with disabilities. We all need to think about how to support our students with invisible and visible disabilities.”

Zandy Wong, a second-year neuroscience student at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who also has a hearing impairment, also has struggled to keep up with her classes.

“The pandemic showed me that environments can be made fully accessible in a virtual or hybrid environment with little cost to the school,” Wong said. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

She requested clear face masks for the discussion section of her calculus II class from her university’s disability services so that she could read the lips of her socially distanced instructor and classmates. But the instructor and the class stopped wearing the clear masks after a week, Wong said, and she was reluctant to self-identify as having a disability at every class meeting to remind everyone to wear them. As a result, she said, she had difficulty keeping up with the course material.

“I worry, with the transition back to in-person learning, that disabled students like me will be left behind once again,” Wong said. “The pandemic showed me that environments can be made fully accessible in a virtual or hybrid environment with little cost to the school.”

A Johns Hopkins representative said that the university has provided more online and hybrid offerings in programs that were primarily in-person before the pandemic, and that the university is considering how to use technology to make classes more inclusive and equitable.

Wong has requested that clear masks be worn in select larger classrooms so that she can read the lips of her classmates and instructors, but she did not request the extra help in this room because of its smaller size. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

Many universities are figuring out the same, experts said, and finding ways to make learning more equitable, including through simulations for labs, video platforms and hybrid learning tools for asynchronous learning.

“The technology has been fleshed out, and the logistics are now understood,” Lissner said. “And now there is a much larger pool of people who could benefit.” The pandemic, he added, has given students with disabilities leverage to press for more change in the educational system.

But challenges remain. At Stanford, third-year math and computational science student Poojit Hegde said online learning was a benefit for him, drastically boosting his levels of physical and mental energy every day. Hegde has chronic fatigue syndrome and received a diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, or POTS, in 2018; POTS limits his mobility and strains his health when his body temperature fluctuates.

While he was attending classes remotely, Hegde could forgo trekking across Stanford’s campus, which covers more than 8,100 acres. But since he has returned to in-person instruction, he said, he has resumed worrying about having the energy to make it to class. Normally, he would use the campus’s golf cart service, which provides transportation between locations on campus for those with disabilities or certain health conditions at the university. But Hegde said he has had a hard time getting to use that facility this year because of increased demand. A Stanford spokesperson said the university increased the staffing of the transportation service at the beginning of the academic year because ridership had climbed from four passengers daily last school year to 50 a day this fall.

In September, one of Hegde’s classes spontaneously decided to meet outside in the early afternoon when it was 80 degrees, and he was not prepared. Normally, he said, he would have brought a cooling vest, a portable fan and water.

“By the end, I really regretted going to class. It impacted the rest of my day and the day after,” Hegde said. “Because my disability is invisible, if I don’t advocate for myself enough, people won’t listen to me.”

“I have to work 10 times harder than my classmates just to be able to succeed, and yet I’m not being supported,” American University student Jessica Chaikof said. (Amanda Voisard for The Washington Post)

Liza Mamedov-Turchinsky, a senior at the University of California at Berkeley who has completed six years for her undergraduate degree, said she had to drop half her courses this year because she did not want to take any in-person classes. Mamedov-Turchinsky, who is studying rhetoric and anthropology, is immunocompromised and has chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain disorder, asthma and ADHD.

A Berkeley spokesperson said students with disabilities are allowed to participate remotely if doing so does not fundamentally change the nature of the courses involved. In addition, if remote learning is not an option, the university will work with the students to find appropriate accommodations.

But Mamedov-Turchinsky’s department is small and did not offer many virtual courses, she said, and her request could not be accommodated. As a result, partly to avoid the threat posed by the novel coronavirus, she will have to take another year or possibly two to graduate.

“I can’t choose between my life and my degree. It’s a very difficult position for me to be in,” she said. “What’s been the most painful and heartbreaking about the pandemic is seeing that the world, at the flip of the dime, was able to restructure itself when it came to abled people needing those accommodations. And now it’s become even more difficult to be an equal among my peers.”

Alex Chand, a fifth-year Lawrence University student of physics and English who has autism, said she enjoyed Zoom learning because she felt she could understand social cues better: She did not need to ask others to join their groups because the professor could automate breakout rooms, she could easily leave her hand raised in the queue, and she generally felt less anxious to attend class.

Returning to in-person learning on the campus in Appleton, Wis., has been stressful, Chand said, because she has had to put in far more energy to fight for accommodations. She saw a psychiatrist this fall for medication to help with her anxiety.

“For a while after returning to campus, I was afraid to leave my room,” Chand said. “It’s been really stressful for me, because it’s hard to decode what’s being said in between the lines.”

Barbara Hong, the dean of Texas A&M International University’s University College and a professor in special education, suggested that the difficulties that students are facing could have been avoided if schools considered reopening in smaller phases.

Hong recommended that instructors and administrators take this school year to reconsider how they teach and assess knowledge in the classroom.

“The pandemic has demanded faculty to be more creative and learn how to use new technology,” Hong said, “and none of this goes away.”

Article originally sourced from https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2021/11/01/colleges-return-students-disabilities/

Is Your Business’s Online Job Search Process Accessible for People With Disabilities?

By Charles Catherine | Essential Accessibility Blog | October 28th, 2021

 

Close-up of a computer mouse clicking on a link titled "Jobs"

 

If you look around your neighborhood these days, chances are you will see a lot of “help wanted” signs dotting the business landscape.

As we repeatedly hear, a labor shortage is gripping our nation and employers are struggling to find people wanting a job.

But below the surface is another story. People with disabilities say they want to apply for job openings but often can’t get past the application or interview process. Many online applications are not accessible to screen readers, for instance, and captioning isn’t always available during online job interviews. This leaves many people with disabilities discouraged and unable to even take the first step toward employment.

 

Is your application process accessible?

 

In some ways, it’s a real paradox. More and more companies are committed to providing accommodations for their employees with disabilities, making sure they have the technology necessary to work remotely, for example, yet the application process may be riddled with online barriers, preventing these individuals from even applying in the first place.

At the National Organization on Disability, we understand it is not always easy for companies to know everything involved with recruiting and hiring people with disabilities. Adding to the complexity, many people are not likely to disclose a disability during the application process, for fear of discrimination. And they have good reason to feel that way: a Rutgers University study found that employers expressed interest in candidates 26 percent less often if they disclosed a disability in their cover letter.

NOD, whose mission is to make sure all Americans can work, would love it if the current underemployment situation became a boon for people with disabilities. However, only 36 percent of people with disabilities who can work have found jobs in the current economy. This is compared to an average of about 76 percent for their able-bodied peers, according to a recent report.

But we can turn this statistic around. As the saying goes, we don’t know what we don’t know. Companies may need outside help to open up their online employment process to everyone. They also might consider reevaluating their disability inclusion programs.

 

Track your website’s accessibility

 

NOD’s  Disability Employment Tracker allows companies to see where they stand against their own disability benchmarks and against those of other companies. We have found that 72 percent of those who have completed the Tracker have a website that is accessible. That is a good beginning but leaves room for improvement when it comes to other digital assets like recruiting sites and accommodations during the interview process.

 

Here are some ideas for businesses as they consider their online hiring practices:

 

  • Assign a disability champion who makes sure digital accessibility is a priority
  • Closely examine (and test) all of your digital properties to make sure they are accessible
  • Provide disability inclusion training for the HR team and others
  • Think about whether your presentations, videos, website, online job application, and interview process are all accessible
  • Designate a point person for prospective employees if they have questions or difficulties applying or interviewing for a job
  • Be certain your onboarding materials are accessible once someone is hired

You should also ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is our website compatible with screen readers?
  • Do we have an accessible landing page specifically for job seekers with disabilities?
  • Do we use plain language in all of our job postings and messaging?
  • Are we including captioning on videos and during online interviews?
  • Do we have access to sign language interpreters?
  • Do we have proper accommodations for online interviews with neurodiverse candidates?

 

By making sure the online application and interview processes are inclusive to people with disabilities, companies will tap into a greater pipeline of talented job candidates, and by doing so, change the culture of their workforce for the better. And while this is a great conversation to have as we close out National Disability Employment Awareness Month, it’s the NOD’s hope that finding ways to help people of all abilities easily apply for a job becomes an ongoing discussion.

Are We Beginning to Narrow the Gap on Disability Inclusion in the Workplace?

By Carol Glazor, President of NOD

 

After decades of seeing no real change, something finally may be shifting, and more people with disabilities are finding jobs.

NOD’s 2021 Employment Tracker shows that the percentage of new hires with disabilities among major employers is increasing. While the numbers are still too low, it is more progress than we have seen in a generation.

I believe the reason is a convergence of a few things. The constant drumbeat about the need for disability inclusiveness in the workforce from organizations such as ours. People with disabilities also have been caught in the more recent rising tide of awareness about discrimination and inequity, along with other marginalized groups.

Even though people with disabilities are disproportionately represented in low-wage, high-contact jobs that can’t be done remotely, others of us who for years asked for remote work as an accommodation, won that right during the pandemic.

And there’s always the economy. While job openings reached historically high levels in the spring, businesses are scrambling to find workers. Increasingly, they’re turning to previously-untapped labor sources.

We still have a long way to go, especially as nearly 1 million people with disabilities lost their jobs during the beginning months of COVID. But the numbers are ticking upward. The labor force participation rate for working-age people with disabilities increased from 32.7 percent in September 2020 to 36.4 percent in September 2021, up 11.3 percent or 3.7 percentage points. For people without disabilities, the labor force participation rate also increased, but at a much lower rate — only 0.8 percentage points, from 75.7 percent in 2020 to 76.5 percent in September 2021.

In other good signs, NOD’s Leadership Council made up of companies seeking to better their disability workforce numbers, added eleven new members in 2021, the largest increase we’ve seen since the Council was created. The number of companies filling out our Employment Tracker survey that gauges performance in disability workforce inclusion increased by 20%, to a new high of 228 companies.

And we could see even bigger gains. The Biden administration is focused on increasing funding for “Home and Community-Based Services,” which will allow more people with disabilities to get and hold jobs, and is asking Congress to provide grants to states to phase out subminimum wages for people with disabilities.

This is all positive, and as we close out National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I am happy to have more to say this year than the usual list of apprehensions and negative statistics about job numbers. This is no time to celebrate, however. More companies need to include everyone when they have job openings, and Congress needs to act on behalf of people with disabilities.

Are You Ready To Challenge Your Accessibility Assumptions?

By Tamar Savir | Medium, October 25th, 2021

We kicked off the #NoMouseVMware challenge this week, inviting employees to navigate a website or a tool for 30 minutes using only the keyboard.

A woman standing next to a computer. A cat is walking past the computer with a computer mouse in its mouth.

Not everyone relies on a mouse or a trackpad when using their computers. The general “cat” population may be surprised to know there are many keyboard-only users among us. For example, people who are blind or have low vision use assistive technology such as screen readers or braille displays and rely on keyboard functionality to navigate a page or browse content online. Other examples include people with dexterity difficulties. Approximately 7% of working adults have Parkinson’s, arthritis, or carpal tunnel syndrome. They find it easier to use the keyboard. Whatever the reason is — necessity or preference — there are many keyboard-only users navigating a world that was not designed for them.

 

Making the digital world more inclusive is something we can all contribute to.

 

An important first step is to experience the digital world the same way that keyboard-only users’ do. We’ve invited VMware employees to take the #NoMouseVMware challenge. You can join us too! Choose a website, or an app or tool, and navigate it using only a keyboard for 30 minutes. So, without a mouse (or a trackpad!) try to:

  • Navigate a menu bar
  • Write an email
  • Check out a newsfeed
  • Scroll down a timeline
  • Watch a video
  • Read an article
  • Subscribe to, or purchase, an item
  • Download a document
  • Review your PowerPoint slides

 

Navigation 101

A cat sitting next to a computer with a "no mouse" sign on the screen

 

Before you start, here are a few tips on keyboard navigation:

  • Press Tab to move to the next link, form element or button.
  • Press Shift+Tab to move to the previous link, form element, or button.
  • Press Enter or space bar to activate the current link or button.
  • Use arrow keys, Escape, or other keys if it makes sense.

 

How long did it take before you hit a roadblock?

A cat dragging a computer mouse in its mouth

 

Or felt frustrated enough to throw your hands up in the air? Ten minutes? Five? Post a comment if you experienced at least one of the options listed below:

  • You couldn’t locate or lost where you were on the page because there wasn’t any visual indication.
  • You had to tab excessively to get to the main page content because there was no skip link.
  • You opened a modal window and noticed keyboard focus didn’t move to it.
  • You skipped over entire parts of the page that you knew you should be able to interact with.
  • You noticed focus jumped to active elements on the page in a random and illogical order.

Surely you can add a few more bullets to the list!

If a 30-minute challenge felt so painful, annoying and/ or frustrating, imagine how difficult it must be for someone who experiences it every day. We encourage you to think about your customers, potential hires and, of course, employees who are:

  • Using keyboards only to navigate your products and website.
  • Sitting through a training or sales pitch, and using the keyboard to navigate your PowerPoint presentations, email or other content.

Making the digital space accessible is everyone’s responsibility. Whether you are part of Marketing, Products, Sales, HR or any other function — we all have a role to play. Let’s become better accessibility advocates. Commit to use the keyboard more often, and if something isn’t working, raise a ticket or get it fixed.

With your help, we can build a future that is accessible for all.

 

Outreach Campaign Encourages People to Overcome Hospital Fears

Posted on August 5th, 2020 | By Mike Moen

A new study says since the start of the pandemic, 911 calls for emergency medical services in the United States have dropped by 26% compared with the past two years.

RICHMOND, Va. — New coronavirus cases are climbing in states such as Virginia, but concerns persist that people dealing with other health emergencies may be avoiding the hospital out of infection fears. A new awareness campaignaims to ease those concerns, especially for people of color.

An online survey for the American Heart Association found that 55% of Hispanics and 45% of Blacks said they’d be scared to go to a hospital with heart attack or stroke symptoms because of COVID-19 fears.

Dr. Federico Asch at MedStar Washington Hospital Center said the results mirror fewer 911 calls in recent months, but these warning signs shouldn’t be ignored.

“These are situations that can actually kill people, like heart attack or stroke, at a much higher rate than COVID itself,” he said.

Health experts have said COVID-19 cases disproportionately have affected certain ethnic groups, which is likely to be creating these concerns.

The Heart Association is launching a public awareness campaign in English and Spanish. Called “Don’t Die of Doubt,” it reminds people that a hospital is the safest place to go if they’re experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.

Asch, who also is a regional board president for the Heart Association, said that while it’s reasonable to worry about becoming infected with COVID if you go to the hospital, it isn’t likely to happen.

“They have everything possible in place to prevent you from getting infected by COVID,” he said.

If stroke or heart attack symptoms are ignored, health officials have said, the next round of symptoms could be much more severe.

More details about the “Don’t Die of Doubt” campaign are on the American Heart Association’s website.

Disclosure: American Heart Association Mid Atlantic Affiliate contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, Smoking Prevention. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mike Moen, Public News Service – VA

AT&T Survey: 70% of Large Businesses Think Remote Working Makes Them More Vulnerable to Cyberattacks

Posted on August 4th, 2020 | By Mike Robuck

According to new research from AT&T, businesses are understandably skittish in regards to remote workers being exposed to more cyberattacks.

AT&T’s survey found that 70% of the large business felt remote working made them more vulnerable to cyberattacks. AT&T’s study of 800 cybersecurity professionals across the U.K., France and Germany found that more than half (55%) now believe remote working is making their companies more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

With “work from anywhere” policies in place for millions of employees due to Covid-19, the security perimeter has moved out of office spaces, which has provided cybercriminals with new vectors of attack.

AT&T Alien Labs Open Threat Exchange (OTX) is one of the largest intelligence-sharing communities in the world, with more than 140,000 security and IT professionals from 140 countries daily contributing and sharing information. In March, as the coronavirus pandemic became more widespread and organizations around the world started implementing wide-scale remote working policies, OTX experienced a 2,000% month-over-month increase in Covid-related incidents of comprise (IOCs).

Along the same lines, Nokia Deepfield saw a significant increase in Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack volumes during March. That trend continued throughout April and May. In June, the aggregate volume of DDoS traffic was 40% to 50% above the pre-pandemic levels from February.

“Cybercriminals are opportunistic, taking advantage of the fear and uncertainty surrounding issues like the current global health and economic situation as well as sudden shifts and exposures in IT environments to launch attack campaigns,” said John Vladimir Slamecka, AT&T region president, EMEA, in a statement. “It can be a challenge for IT organizations to stay on top of emergent threat activity in the wild.”

RELATED: Covid-19 takes a $2.8 billion bite out of AT&T’s second quarter

According to AT&T’s survey, employees were the biggest risk identified by the cyber experts. At 31%, AT&T’s research found there was a lack of awareness, apathy or reluctance to embrace new technologies as the biggest challenges for implementing better cybersecurity practices within businesses.

One in three (35%) of the employees utilize the same devices for both work and personal uses while 24% are sharing or storing sensitive information in unsanctioned cloud applications. With work from home employees, 18% of the employees were sharing their devices with another family member.

Somewhat surprisingly, 25% of the businesses haven’t offered additional cybersecurity training for their employees while 24% haven’t created secure gateways to applications hosted in cloud or data centers.

In addition, 22% hadn’t increased endpoint protection for laptops and mobile while 17% hadn’t installed internet browsing protection for web-base threats.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also created fertile ground for phishing and other fraud-related activities. Among the cybersecurity experts’ responses in the survey, 44% cited ransomware and/or malware as their top security concern. Phishing (39%) and external threats such as nation-state attacks or hacking (39%) rounded out their top three concerns.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated businesses’ digital transformations. Cybersecurity experts are gearing up for new innovations as a response to business conditions around Covid-19. Almost half (47%) expect more digital transformation of business processes and cloud implementation in the year to come.

RELATED: Masergy’s Watson: Third phase of COVID-19 fallout could be a long haul for businesses

Two in five (40%) believe that their business will adopt new automation and robotic tools. For the largest businesses, those with more than 5,000 employees, nearly half (48%) will be changing their technology partners in the next year.

“While many organizations had already supported some remote workers on a regular basis, the sudden increase has put stress on IT systems, processes, and teams,” said Slamecka.  “Others have had to scramble to quickly roll out solutions focused on keeping their entire workforce connected and productive.

“In either case, sudden and unplanned changes in the way workers connect to the corporate network and access corporate data and applications in the data center and cloud can introduce new cyber risks and vulnerabilities.”

Pandemic May Move Companies to Fix Gender and Other Inequalities, Says PwC

Report reflects marked gender inequality in corporate sector, with only 6% of listed companies having female CEOs

Posted on August 4th, 2020 | By Ntando Thukwana

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has prompted companies to place greater emphasis on their social responsibilities, may give companies the impetus to address gender and other inequalities, reports advisory firm PwC.

The report issued on Tuesday came as the country observes women’s month honouring women who marched against the pass laws 64 years ago. It paints a picture of pronounced gender inequality in the  corporate sector with only 6% of listed companies having female CEOs.