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Tech groups team up on ransomware fight

A group of major tech companies, research groups and other organizations said today they're putting together a coalition to address the ongoing impact of <a href="https://preprod.statescoop.com/tag/ransomware/">ransomware</a> on government, education, health care and other critical sectors. The new Ransomware Task Force will attempt to develop a "framework" that can be used broadly to help organizations protect themselves. "There’s a real need for getting these disparate groups together to have this conversation," said Philip Reiner, a former National Security Council official and chief executive of the <a href="https://securityandtechnology.org/">Institute for Security and Technology</a>, which is leading the task force. "The intention here is to work across these different silos so these folks have a better awareness."   Benjamin Freed reports.

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Rehabbing old devices for low-income users

Illinois will launch a statewide computer refurbishing program to expand the access that low-income residents have to digital services, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced last week. The program, called the “Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network,” is currently planning to distribute 20,000 devices across the state. About 1.1 million households don’t have a computer, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, limiting the effectiveness of other digital equity programs that seek to expand broadband access and digital literacy training. Ryan Johnston has details.

FCC says no to educational broadband exclusivity

The Federal Communications Commission last week rejected a call from educators to limit access to one of its broadband services to educational institutions, despite the service's designation. Education groups, including nonprofits and state agencies, asked the FCC last year that it not allow non-educational institutions to use the Educational Broadband Service, a chunk of wireless spectrum that has been historically reserved for schools and libraries. But the commission rejected the request on Friday, saying it will continue to auction off unused parts of the spectrum to private-sector carriers for 5G development. Read more on EdScoop.

Three states affected in suspected Russian hack

As we learn more about a cyber espionage operation that exploited network monitoring software from SolarWinds, it was reported last week that three state governments were among the entities compromised in the operation, which has also touched several federal agencies. States that have not detected any suspicious activity are taking precautions. Maggie Bizzell, communications manager for the North Carolina Department of Information Technology, told StateScoop that the department has not received or identified any signs of intrusion, but “is working to ensure all entities are applying best practices provided by DHS CISA.”     Ben has more.

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