Massive Cyberattack & Rohingya Muppets

US Government Shaken by Serious Computer Attack

Governments and companies around the world have recently learned that they’ve been the victims of a massive computer attack. The US government, which was probably the most affected, is still trying to understand how much damage was done by the cyberattack.

The attack began this spring when hackers broke into the computer systems of a company called SolarWinds. SolarWinds sells its software to many government groups and large businesses to help keep their computers safe.

Logo of technology company SolarWinds 
Governments and companies have been hit by a massive computer attack. It began this spring when hackers broke into the computer systems of a company called SolarWinds, which then passed on bad software to over 18,000 customers. 
(Source: B.tavakkoli [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

SolarWinds didn’t know that it had been hacked. So it also didn’t know that an update it sent out to its 18,000 customers included changed software. This bad software allowed hackers to gain control of computer systems in many governments and important companies around the world.

Though the US hasn’t given many details, it’s known that several important parts of the US government were affected by the hack.

Because SolarWinds was used by so many companies, there are worries that hackers could have gotten control over important resources in the US, like energy or water supplies, or even weapons systems.

The Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense
Though the US hasn’t given many details, it’s known that several important parts of the US government were affected by the hack. That includes the Department of Defense. Above, the Pentagon, the main office of the Department of Defense.
(Source: David B. Gleason [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)

One person working for the government said, “This is looking like it’s the worst hacking case in the history of America. They got into everything.”

The hacking job was so big that experts say it could only have been handled by another country. On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians” who did this.

Secretary Pompeo Virtually Meets with the WSJ CEO Council 2020
The hacking job was so big that experts say it could only have been handled by another country. On Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (above) said, “we can say pretty clearly that it was the Russians” who did this.
(Source: U.S. Dept. of State [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.)

After remaining silent about the attack for nearly a week, on Saturday, US President Donald Trump said that “everything is well under control.”

That’s the opposite of the way most experts see the situation. It’s expected that it will take months to figure out all the organizations that were attacked and how they were affected.

Even if governments and businesses remove the bad software, the hackers will have had months to learn the secrets of these organizations. The hackers could have also made other changes to computer systems to allow them to get back in, once the SolarWinds software was removed.

Sesame Street Creates Muppets for Rohingya Refugees

Since 2017, more than a million Rohingya people left Myanmar, forced out by violence. The Rohingya ran to Bangladesh for safety. Now, they are crowded into massive refugee camps. In these refugee camps, there aren’t really any houses, just simple huts made from bamboo and plastic.

View of the sprawling Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Over 623,000 mainly Rohingya people have arrived in the camp since 25 August 2017, fleeing violence and religious persecution in Burma - creating one of the world's largest humanitarian crises.
Since 2017, more than a million Rohingya people left Myanmar, forced out by violence. Most ran to Bangladesh for safety. Now, they’re crowded into massive refugee camps where there aren’t really any houses, just simple huts made from bamboo and plastic.
(Source: DFID – UK Department for International Development, via Flickr.com.)

Now Sesame Street has created two special muppets to help encourage and teach refugee children in these camps. The new muppets are 6-year-old Rohingya twins – a girl named Noor and a boy named Aziz.

Like most of the kids who will see them, Noor and Aziz speak Rohingya, and they live in a huge refugee camp. A person speaking for Sesame Street said that this will be the first time most of these children will have seen people in videos “who look and sound like them.”

Screenshot from a promotional video introducing Noor and Aziz, 6-year-old twins, who will be featured in groundbreaking Rohingya-language content for children affected by displacement.
To help teach refugee children, Sesame Street has created two Rohingya muppet twins – a girl named Noor and a boy named Aziz (above). It will be the first time most of these children have seen people in videos “who look and sound like them.”
(Source: Screenshot, Sesame Street International Social Impact, via YouTube.)

Noor and Aziz will join several other Sesame Street characters in the videos, which will help children learn through playing. There will also be printed storybooks and other educational materials. Most Rohingya children in the refugee camps aren’t allowed to go to school.

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