Reboot your internet router now! That's what the FBI is telling the users of some 500,000 devices believed to be infected with powerful Russian malware capable of intelligence-collecting, software monitoring, and disabling routers, according to the New York Times. Network technology company Cisco Systems and antivirus company Symantec first issued a warning last Wednesday about the routers, which the company said have been compromised in a possible effort to lay the groundwork for a cyber-sabotage operation against targets in Ukraine. According to ArsTechnica, the so-called VPNFilter malware uses three distinct stages in order to send gathered data back to the dark actors, who've been identified as the Russian government-linked hacker group Fancy Bear. While the first stage can survive rebooting, the second and third reportedly cannot. Routers from Linksys, Mikrotik, Netgear, QNAP, and TP-Link are reportedly those vulnerable to the malware, but the FBI recommended Friday that any owner of small office and home office routers "reboot the devices to temporarily disrupt the malware and aid the potential identification of infected devices." The FBI advised router owners to consider disabling remote management settings on devices and to secure routers with strong passwords and encryption whenever possible. Network devices should also be upgraded to the latest available versions of firmware, the FBI said. The group Fancy Bear reportedly is known by many other names, including Sofacy, APT 28, and Pawn Storm, and is believed to be the party responsible for the 2016 DNC hack. (New York Times)
Think You've Got Student Debt?
So you think you've got student debt? Mike Meru owes lenders $1,060,945.42 in student debt. He is making payments, but still, his debt grows $130 every day. And the 37-year-old orthodontist is not alone. There are currently 101 borrowers who owe more than $1 million in student loans, and 2.5 million who owe more than $100,000. Part of the blame goes to rising costs of tuition. Meru graduated from Brigham Young University in Utah with no student debt, but his goal of becoming an orthodontist brought him to the University of Southern California, an expensive choice. Over the next seven years of school, tuition and interest rates spiraled. A few years in, he started to panic and considered dropping out but at the same time felt that orthodontics was his calling. To save money, Meru and his wife lived with his parents and he drove a used Buick. By his third year he was $340,000 in debt, and then he entered a residency program. Of his growing debt, he says, "I just wouldn't look. The only thing looking did was create stress." In all, he borrowed $600,506, which topped $1 million after interest. Today, Meru makes $225,000 working in his field, but the debt is unrelenting. "If you thought about it every single day," says his wife, "you'd have a mental breakdown." (Wall Street Journal)
Somebody Can't Write
If you ever remember what it was like getting a paper back from a teacher all marked up in red with endless corrections, you can imagine how the White House felt when its form letter was returned by retired teacher Yvonne Mason. Ms. Mason taught middle and high school in South Carolina for 17 years and says, "I have never, ever, received a letter with this many silly mistakes. When you get letters from the highest level of government, you expect them to be at least mechanically correct." Mason began the exchange with a letter asking President Trump to meet family members of victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In response, she received a form letter that discusses school safety. She says, not only did his letter not address the issue she asked about, it was filled with grammatical mistakes. Mason marked improper capitalizations of "president," "state," "federal," and "nation" among many other things. As she explained, "'Federal' is capitalized only when used as part of a proper noun, e.g. the name of an agency." Some of her more colorful comments included: "Have ya'll tried grammar and style check?" and "OMG this is WRONG!" Mason says the letter would have received a "D" if she was grading it for high school. (Greenville News)
Never Ask This Question
In Chattanooga, Tennessee, 23-year-old Jadarius Knox has been arrested and charged with criminal homicide after admitting to killing 21-year-old Aaron Biddle. One witness told police officers Biddle stopped by a residence to pick up some belongings. When he arrived he saw Knox, whom he knew. The witness said after Biddle loaded his belongings into his vehicle, he attempted to start an argument with Knox. Biddle then allegedly ran into the home and began punching Knox. Knox then ran outside and pointed a gun at Biddle. According to the witness, Biddle said, "what are you going to do, shoot me?" Apparently the answer was yes. Knox shot Biddle then and there. Knox was booked into the Hamilton County Jail. His bond is set at $750,000. (WRCB News)
SPAM Recalled! What Took So Long?
The US Department of Agriculture is recalling more than 228,000 pounds of Spam and another product made by the folks at Hormel after four consumers complained about metal objects in the food. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service says the canned chicken and pork in question was produced in February at the company's plant in Fremont, Nebraska. The agency says "minor oral injuries" have been reported. The recall covers 12-ounce metal cans containing "SPAM Classic" with a "Best By" date of February 2021. Those products were shipped throughout the US. The recall also includes 12-ounce metal cans of "Hormel Foods Black-Label Luncheon Loaf" with a "Best By" date of February 2021. Those products were shipped only to Guam. Oh thank God it's just a manufacturing mistake and has nothing to do with the high quality, nutritious food we call Spam! (Newser)
Call the Cops!
In Deland, Florida, quick thinking and a compassionate vet very well may have saved the life of one woman. She discretely slipped a small note to her vet that read: "Call the cops, my boyfriend is threatening me. He has a gun. Please don't let him know." It turns out the boyfriend, convicted felon Jeremy Floyd, was standing beside her with a concealed and loaded weapon. Luckily the vet notified police who showed up and arrested the guy. Authorities say Floyd, 39, had beaten her with his gun in a fight earlier in the week and when they struggled for the weapon two bullets fired harmlessly through a wall. The woman, who remains unidentified, spent a day in bed due to a head injury. Then she convinced Floyd she had to take her dog to Deland Animal Hospital, so he reportedly went along and threatened to murder her and her family on the drive over. (Orlando Sentinel)
Keep the Ticks Off You!
You've probably heard, it's been an especially nasty year for ticks. Here's some good news - the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a statement about a possible method for keeping those pesky varmints off you. By spraying clothing with an insecticide called permethrin, experts believe you can cause the bugs to get so-called "hot feet" and fall off before transmitting germs that cause Lyme and other tick-borne diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever. According to a study published in the Entomological Society of America's Journal of Medical Entomology, permethrin caused ticks of multiple species to fall off clothing and, after prolonged exposure, caused their movements to become uncoordinated. Meanwhile, the number of Americans catching diseases from tiny bloodsucking creatures is going up at an alarming rate, federal authorities warn. According to the latest report from the CDC, the number of reported illnesses caused by ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas more than tripled between 2004 and 2016-and since many illnesses go unreported, the true total is probably much higher than the 642,602 cases reported over the period. (Live Science)
What the What?
Something very special just happened in Ketchikan, Alaska. Seventy-One year old Anne Bruinooge managed to check of the last state from her list meaning she has achieve her goal... of performing a headstand in all 50 states! Bruinooge says she has been traveling around the country for the past decade, doing headstands in every state that she and her husband visit. An avid participant of yoga, she says her motivation was simply "the fun of doing headstands." (ABC News)