Sunday, September 29, 2019

In the News: aggressive mosquitoes being fought; "525 million probes a day from foreign soil"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"About two years ago, Todd Duval got a call from a New Bedford homeowner. The woman’s children were being attacked by relentlessly aggressive mosquitoes in her yard. The kids had sustained so many bites that the woman took them to the doctor to make sure they’d be OK.

Duval, an entomologist with the Bristol County Mosquito Control Project, visited the home. He found plastic toys scattered throughout the yard, corrugated downspout extensions on the home’s gutters and buckets for collecting rainwater that the woman used to water her tomatoes.

The containers were an ideal breeding ground for a species of mosquito that has been threatening to colonize Massachusetts for a few years: the Aedes albopictus, or Asian tiger mosquito.

The first Asian tiger mosquito in Massachusetts was found in New Bedford in 2009. Over the next few years, Duval and other mosquito trackers found the tiny day-biters buzzing around traps in increasing numbers, mostly in New Bedford, Fairhaven and, in some years, a neighborhood in Dartmouth."

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"Every day, the state’s computer network is “probed” more than half a billion times by entities outside the United States looking for a weak spot in the state’s cyber protections that could allow bad actors to infiltrate the state’s information technology infrastructure.

The Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS) and others maintain defenses against those probes, but some programs are expected to run out of funding in January when the Legislature’s last IT bond bill runs dry, EOTSS Secretary Curt Wood told lawmakers Thursday.

“We have major initiatives ongoing right now, if the money expires in January, which we anticipate, we will be stopped without any traction,” he said. “So the urgency from a funding perspective is critical.”

Wood, Administration and Finance Secretary Michael Heffernan and Public Safety Secretary Thomas Turco pressed the House Committee on Bonding, Capital Expenditures and State Assets to advance a $1.15 billion bill authorizing funds for information technology, public safety equipment and cybersecurity projects."

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