Martin Karplus ’50 is Harvard’s Theodore William Richards Professor of Chemistry Emeritus, the 2013 Nobel laureate in chemistry, a widely exhibited photographer, and an experienced chef who plans the evening menu on his walk home every day. He likes to joke, “The only chemistry I really do is in the kitchen.”Now the 85-year-old can add “movie star” to his resume, after the May 25 premiere of “Martin Karplus — The Invisible Made Visible,” a documentary film of his life, and third in a series called “The Eviction of Intellect.” It was broadcast in German on both ORF III, a public television station in Vienna, and on ARD, a consortium of public television stations in Germany. (An English-language version will be ready by mid-June, but its American distribution has not been scheduled yet.)The 45-minute film tells the story of Karplus being harried out of his childhood home in Austria by the Nazis; his upbringing in suburban Boston; his awakening to science (partly through bird watching); and, eventually, his landmark work in molecular dynamics and bio-molecular simulation.The movie started with a plan by the director last July. Filming began in September in New York, then moved on to San Francisco; to Cambridge, at the Harvard lab where Karplus is still active in research; to his boyhood haunts in Brighton and Newton; and then to Berlin and France, where Karplus has a family chalet in Chalmont.Video was shot in the French village of Illhaeusern, too, a dot on the Alsace map. Twenty years ago, Karplus worked there for two weeks in the kitchen of the three-star Auberge d’Ill, a riverside inn near the border with Germany. The chef showed Karplus the trick to making goose-liver pate, remarking on film, “You’re the only Nobel Prize winner who has worked in my kitchen.”Behind the documentary is a narrative of joy, danger, luck, escape, and hard work stretching back more than 75 years.In the spring of 1938, Karplus’ father, Vienna businessman Hans Karplus, foresaw the racial violence in store for the Jews of Austria. (Kristallnacht, a national wave of anti-Semitic pogroms, swept through Nazi territories that November.) So he arranged a family “ski trip” to neutral Zurich.On March 17, his wife, Lucie, and sons Robert and Martin (who had just turned 8) slipped away unharmed. But Hans Karplus was detained and imprisoned in Vienna. In order to join his family, he had to relinquish everything to Austrian Nazi authorities: house, car, money, and rights to a big inheritance. His brother Eduard, then living near Boston, had to pay a ransom of $5,000 — equivalent to more than $80,000 today — to complete the deal. Hans Karplus escaped with only his stamp collection, and sold it much later in the United States. It covered two months rent.In the two previous “Eviction” films, director Eberhard Büssem — a German-born historian of modern Europe — told the stories of others who were expelled from Vienna and went on to lead similarly worthy and useful lives. “All of us Jews,” said Karplus, “all of us driven out of Austria.”In an email from Austria, where he was filming last-minute scenes with Karplus, Büssem said, “The idea of the films is to create a witness of the forced exodus and killing of human beings, the robbery of property, the violation of elementary human rights and also the loss of intellect.”Karplus has been in Austria since early May, on a visit to his native city that has been marked by considerable irony. The man who was declared racially unfit in 1938 returned this month to receive the keys to Vienna; an honorary doctorate from the University of Vienna, which celebrates its 650th anniversary this year; induction into a national academy; and Austria’s highest national honor for science and art — the Order of Merit, or Ehrenzeichen —from Austrian president Heinz Fischer. “It’s a little late,” said Karplus in German, accepting the honor with a touch of dry wit, “but perhaps it’s good for reconciliation whenever you say yes.”Karplus, an avid photographer since his 20s, is also being honored with an exhibition of his work at the University of Vienna. His photography earlier appeared at two Austrian cultural venues, in New York and in Washington, D.C., as well as in post-Nobel shows in Oxford, Paris, Berlin, and elsewhere. It is through photography, said Karplus at his Cambridge home before departing for Europe, that he tries to create “the invisible made visible” — his “leitmotif” as an artist.Karplus’ public celebration by the city of his birth brought with it the somewhat fraught issue of having to make public remarks. “It’s complicated,” Karplus said, since memories still well up from the 1930s, along with doubts that Austrian anti-Semitism is gone — a point he made in a scathing interview with Austrian radio after the Nobel ceremony in 2013. “In some ways, you can say they waited a long time — more than 75 years. It’s only now that I got a Nobel Prize that they realize what they did.”Büssem reflected that at least Germany and Austria, “late but better than never,” have admitted guilt and accepted responsibility for “all the atrocities of the Nazi regime.”The visit to Vienna brought back a childhood of loving relatives, books, and outdoor play. While there, Büssem planned to film Karplus on the outskirts of Vienna, where he lived when he was very young, and at the site of the fango (mud) sanatorium that Dr. Samuel Goldstern, his maternal grandfather, ran for patients all over the world with nervous disorders.Karplus was born in 1930 to a family of secular Jews, whose indifference to religion made their expulsion from Austria all the more shocking. The family was notably accomplished. His paternal grandfather, Johann, a famous neurologist, played a role in the discovery of the hypothalamus. His grandmother on that side, Valerie von Lieben, grew up in a palatial apartment on Vienna’s Ringstrasse. Her brother Robert developed the cathode ray relay to enhance the sound quality of telephones, and her wealthy grandfather Ignaz Lieben in 1862 founded the Lieben Prize for science, known as the Austrian Nobel Prize.His uncle Eduard Karplus, who came to the rescue in 1938 with $5,000, invented the Variac autotransformer used to step up or down voltages. (It is still used today.) And his great-aunt Eugenie Goldstern on his mother’s side was one of Europe’s most acclaimed ethnologists, an expert in Alpine village life and folkways whose prying fieldwork a century ago in the remote French village of Bessans earned her the nickname “The Spy.” Karplus remembered seeing her often. “She would have toys and play with us.” In 1942, at age 58, she was killed at Sobibor death camp in Poland.Büssem, born in 1941, said that one message of his latest “Eviction” film can be conveyed in numbers. It premieres in May, 70 years after the end of World War II in Europe, and 77 years after Hitler snatched power in Austria. In all, 150,000 Jewish Austrians had to emigrate — 10 percent of them scientists and nearly half of the nation’s physicians. For Austrians, he said, the forced evictions were “a terrible loss of intelligence.”For Americans, the émigrés represented a “great benefit of talents,” said Büssem: landmark thinkers such as Albert Einstein, and gifted children, like Karplus, who reached full bloom after finding refuge in the United States.Büssem’s two previous “Eviction” documentaries underscore what Austria lost and America gained.“Carl Djerassi — Father of the Pill” (2008) is about the chemist, art collector, novelist, and playwright most famous today for formulating the birth control pill and for his work on antihistamines. Djerassi escaped Vienna in 1938. The next year, he immigrated to America with his mother. Between them they had $20.Djerassi also figures in the second film, “Eviction of Intellect: Four World Stars of Science.” The others are chemist and philanthropist Alfred Bader, Ph.D. ’50; 1998 Nobel laureate in chemistry Walter Kohn, Ph.D.’48; and British historian Peter G.J. Pulzer.Bader and Kohn escaped from Austria on the famed Kindertransport, a British rescue scheme that from 1938 to 1940 sponsored asylum for unaccompanied Jewish children living in Germany or Nazi-annexed countries like Austria.With Karplus part of the “Eviction” series, three of Büssem’s five subjects — and all three Nobel laureates — are graduates of Harvard. But none of the others, perhaps, know how to make good goose-liver pate.“Eberhard wanted to show the different sides of me,” said Karplus of the director. “I have a life of many parts.”
Nicole Simon | The Observer Junior Patrick Paulsen of Morrissey Manor, left, freshman Logan Schott of Keenan Hall, center, and senior Tom Vaccaro of O’Neill Family Hall, accept their awards as Mr. Walsh, Mr. ND and Fan Favorite, respectively.Sophomores Mackenzie Sheil and Victoria Ruesch, Walsh’s signature event commissioners, emceed the event in addition to planning it. They had help from other Walsh residents, including sophomore Sarah Galbenski, who sold tickets.Galbenski said she loves the evening because it brings people together from all different dorms.“We really love this event because every male’s dorm has someone to support,” she said. “It really fosters community not only among Walsh, but also among each of the men’s dorms.”During the event, the contestants have a question-and-answer segment, followed by their own original act. Some notable performances this year included Mr. Dunne Nick Lampson’s original song about bleach, Mr. Sorin Rory VanDorpe’s ribbon twirling routine and Mr. Siegfried Patrick McGuire’s cooking show.McGuire, sophomore president of Siegfried Hall, said it was an honor to represent his hall at the event. During his cooking show performance, he recreated Buddy the Elf’s iconic spaghetti dish from the movie Elf.“My preparation was pretty minimal. I did some studying of the film. I also did some grocery shopping. I boiled the pasta beforehand,” McGuire said. “I definitely knew I wanted to represent Siegfried Hall as it deserves, but I was worried that I would not be able to do so. You know, a little bit of apprehension going in to it.”Junior Patrick Paulsen of Morrissey Manor played the accordion for his performance, and his opening joke was one of the most applauded of the night.“Before I hit puberty, my mom didn’t want me to associate with anyone who did sex, drugs or rock and roll, so she signed me up for accordion,” he said. “And now I go to Notre Dame.”Paulsen played the national anthem on his accordion while the audience stood and sang the words. The crowd also stood and waved their phone lights back and forth during Mr. Carroll’s piano rendition of “Hallelujah.”Even though there was a sense of community throughout the crowd, the event was first and foremost a competition.The contestants were hoping to be crowned one of the night’s three prizes: Mr. ND, decided by Walsh Hall Staff, Mr. Walsh, decided by the contestants’ escorts and Fan Favorite, voted on by students through an online form.This year’s Fan Favorite was Tom Vaccaro of O’Neill Family Hall, while Paulsen was named Mr. Walsh.Ultimately, the coveted title Mr. ND was awarded to Schott, who represented Keenan Hall and sang Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man out of You” while lifting weights.“How do I feel? I feel amazing, I feel honored, and ready to just hold it in the silence of my heart, just holding it there, knowing that I have become Mr. ND,” he said.Tags: Keenan Hall, Mr. ND, Walsh Hall Freshman Logan Schott of Keenan Hall was crowned Mr. ND at the 18th annual pageant Thursday night in Washington Hall. The event, hosted by Walsh Hall, invites one candidate from each male’s dorm to showcase “their talent, intellect and humor” in the hopes of winning the crowning title “Mr. ND,” according to Walsh Hall’s Facebook page for the event.All proceeds support Walsh’s signature charity, Joseph’s Academy in Chicago.
PSB approves CVPS alternative regulation planProvides for automatically adjusting rates on a quarterly basis to reflect fluctuating power purchase pricesRUTLAND – The Vermont Public Service Board has approved a Central Vermont Public Service (NYSE-CV) alternative regulation plan designed to better link customer and investor interests, improve efficiency and help control costs.”This construct will help CVPS better serve our customers, improve our credit worthiness, and encourage energy efficiency,” CVPS President Bob Young said. “This is an important improvement in Vermont regulation.”The board order concludes nearly a year of review, and sets the stage for a new system of rate review starting in 2009. It provides for automatically adjusting rates on a quarterly basis to reflect fluctuating power purchase prices, and includes mechanisms to cap cost increases and to share earnings and losses between shareholders and customers.”The decision by the board is a good compromise,” said Steve Wark, director of consumer affairs for the Department of Public Service, the state’s consumer advocate. “It gives the utility the structure it needs, and gives regulators comfort in the oversight process that we need. Overall, consumers will greatly benefit.”Alternative regulation is intended to send customers more accurate and timely price signals, whether costs rise or fall, and create incentives for CVPS to operate efficiently. The PSB and DPS will maintain oversight over the company and its rates through annual reviews and regular quarterly updates of CVPS’s costs and rates.”We find that alternative regulation is in the best interests of CVPS and its ratepayers – a conclusion that both CVPS and the Vermont Department of Public Service have strongly supported in these proceedings,” the board said in its decision. The 56-page order details significant benefits for customers and the company.”The Modified Plan we adopt today provides a number of benefits. For instance, the power cost adjustment mechanism will result in more timely recovery of CVPS’s reasonable power costs, which can vary significantly due to changes in the wholesale market and which comprise nearly 60% of CVPS’s total cost-of-service,” the board wrote. “This should help CVPS achieve an investment-grade corporate credit rating, which, in turn, will enable the Company to attract capital on more favorable terms than it presently does. This enhanced financial posture and lower capital costs will help CVPS as it begins to negotiate for resources to replace the two major long-term contracts for power from the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station and Hydro-Quebec that expire in 2012 and 2015, respectively. Ultimately, these positive effects of CVPS’s strengthened financial profile should redound to the benefit of ratepayers in the form of lower rates and more favorable contractual terms in securing Vermont’s long-term power supply beyond 2012.”The Modified Plan provides direct benefits to ratepayers as well. First, the Modified Plan affords the Company a lower return on equity, which in this case will directly lower the costs that CVPS seeks to collect from ratepayers. Second, the Modified Plan institutes an earnings sharing mechanism that offers ratepayers the prospect of additional rate relief as CVPS improves its earnings by operating more efficiently and cost-effectively.”Under the order, CVPS’s return on equity will drop from 10.71 percent to a previously agreed-upon rate of 10.21 percent. The board plans to investigate and set base rates for CVPS in the coming months, which will be implemented sometime in 2009. The alternative regulation plan will be in place through 2011.
Director Art Jones and Bruce Bouchard, Executive Director of The Paramount Theatre, announced today that the feature-length Rutland-focused documentary, “The Blood in this Town” will be presented in a “Sneak Preview to Benefit the Paramount Theatre” on Saturday, Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m. There will be two additional “Sneak Previews” at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24. Proceeds will benefit The Paramount.”The Blood in this Town” is a 95-minute documentary chronicling Rutland’s drive to revitalize itself during America’s deep economic crisis. The film uses the town’s record-breaking Gift-of-Life Marathon blood drive to explore how a struggling, post-industrial town can revive itself from the grassroots up. From initiatives like the Rutland Creative Economy and the creation of a year-round Farmers’ Market to entrepreneurial startups and the building of a world-class trail system in Pine Hill Park, Rutland shows how a community’s determination and true-grit creativity can provide a way forward for thousands of struggling towns across America.”The film shows sides of Rutland that many people may not even realize exist,” said Jones. ‘Rutland, despite some big challenges, has an amazing range of imaginative, energetic people who are not waiting around for change to come to them. More and more, they are uniting, putting political and other differences aside to work together for the good of the town. That’s something this nation as a whole can learn from, and should know about.’Jones added, ‘Parts of the film will surprise, maybe even shock local people. Yet in many ways, Rutland is shattering expectations of what a small town can do. Ultimately it’s a story of spirit and determination.’The documentary was filmed over seven months – from December 2009 to the summer of 2010 – covering the day-long action of last year’s dramatic Gift-Of-Life Marathon, a range of dynamic community initiatives, and day-to-day life in town. The film was crafted from over 52 hours of footage and 40 individual interviews.The Gift-of-Life Marathon, organized by Central Vermont Public Service and WJJR-FM, is more than just a blood drive. While it has twice broken the New England record for single-day blood donations, it is also a rallying point for the greater Rutland Community, a block party focused on community giving and revival. From school children to churches, businesses to non-profits, the community has made the event a central focus of the holiday season, in the process helping to save thousands of lives in the marathon’s seven-year run. The 2010 Gift-of-Life Marathon is gearing up to recapture its New England record, which was broken by a Boston blood drive at Fenway Park on Sept. 11.”We started the film with a focus on the blood drive, but that became an allegory for the larger story of Rutland,” Jones said. “There’s a blueprint for revival talking shape here, and our hope is that ‘The Blood in this Town,’ can help bring Rutland’s drive-to-revitalize to the nation’s attention.’The film was made by Art Jones of Great Jones Productions in New York. Jones is a veteran filmmaker who began his work in documentaries on PBS’s “Frontline” in the 1980s. Since 1991, he has headed Great Jones Productions – writing, directing and producing documentary-based films for a host of educational, cultural and corporate clients, including IBM, Merck, YMCA and Time Warner ‘ thereby creating a funding engine for the development of documentary and narrative films.His three prior theatrical films – “Dodgeball”, “Going Nomad” and “Lustre”, have received nationwide acclaim and release, first playing in the Tribeca, Hamptons, SXSW, and Cinequest Film Festivals. His films have been broadcast on PBS, HBO, the BBC and ARTE.Looking to the future, Jones aims to bring “The Blood in this Town” to a range of national and international film festivals, en route to the eventual goal of theatrical release and national broadcast via outlets such as PBS, the Sundance and Independent Film Channels.The Oct. 23 “Sneak Preview of The Blood in this Town, a Feature-Length Documentary, to Benefit the Paramount Theatre” will include a pre-film cocktail hour (6:30-7:30 p.m.), a short pre-film discussion, the sneak preview (7:45 p.m.) and a talk and Q&A session afterward with Jones. Tickets are $25. Tickets for the Oct. 24 showings at 1:30 and 4 p.m. are $6 for adults and $4 for children.Tickets go on sale, Friday morning Sept. 24, at the Paramount Box Office, at www.paramountlive.org(link is external) or 802 775-0903. The film’s website is www.bloodinthistown.com(link is external).
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):The market to acquire wind generation remains robust, whether for development assets or legacy projects, with contracts or without, according to deal-makers at the American Wind Energy Association’s annual Wind Energy Finance & Investment conference in New York City on Oct. 1-2.“There is a lot of liquidity and strong demand, both on the development side and the operating side,” said Frank Nicklaus, principal at Greentech Capital Advisors, citing the recently agreed sale of Noble Environmental Power LLC’s 612-MW operating wind portfolio in New York state as an example.Carlyle Group LP announced it would acquire the wind assets in September, marking the first wind investment for the Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm. Carlyle owns upward of 6,000 MW of generation assets, including gas-fired plants and hydro facilities.“A lot of the folks that looked at that portfolio were looking at it as a potential repowering,” said Nicklaus, whose firm ran the sale process for Noble, adding that he was “pleasantly surprised” by the great interest shown in the platform. “Those assets were about 10 years old, had rolled off the [production tax credits] and were actually merchant.”Nicklaus said big strategic investors are expected to be among those looking to acquire projects ripe for repowering as the passage of time produces more “legacy” wind projects, though Christopher Pih, managing director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said private equity firms may be more equipped to tackle the risk associated with a repowering.“If you have higher risk, whether it’s repowering, or re-contracting, or a bit of hair, then you start to tap into more of the private equity-like kind of infrastructure players who are interested in those types of assets,” Pih said.However, panelists at the conference left little doubt that the wind M&A market is active across the board.Live sales include utility-owned portfolios from sellers trying to drum-up low-cost cash, recycle capital or otherwise find ways to up their balance sheet as well as assets from developers who see the frothy M&A market as the perfect opportunity to put projects on the block, Pih said.More ($): Seller’s market for wind assets persists New assets, old assets, U.S. wind market is flourishing
By Dialogo June 03, 2009 BOGOTA, 02 June 2009 (AFP)-The Navy reported this Thursday that Colombian authorities had seized 1.5 tons of Cocaine, a submersible and a speedboat near the Pacific coast. Admiral Jesús Bejarano, Commander of the Pacific Naval Forces, reported that the finding occurred on a stream in the Sanquianga National Park, in the department of Nariño (in the Southwest). The report specified that 1.5 tons of cocaine hydrochloride, a “go fast” speedboat, a semi submergible, three M-16 rifles, cartridges, ammunitions clips and radios and communications equipment were seized during the operation that was conducted by both the Prosecutor’s Office and the Intelligence Service. These elements belong to a drug trafficking group, on which security forces are making advances in investigation, though none has been captured yet. The Navy indicated that currently the number of submersibles belonging to the drug trafficking group that have been seized has risen to 42, and it estimates that each one of the submersibles is capable of transporting between 6 to 10 tons of drugs. The submersibles are able to travel up to 1,000 to 2,000 miles, which is the equivalent of one to two week trips.
By Dialogo April 26, 2013 From February 12 to 14, a team from U.S. Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S) and U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) facilitated a Counter-Illicit Trafficking Operation Center Interoperability (CITOCI) Regional Workshop in El Salvador. This annual event is a professional exchange of ideas and best practices for improving the efficiency and success of regional Counter-Illicit Trafficking efforts with an emphasis in multinational interoperability. Workshop attendees were mainly the operators of the Cooperating Nations Information Exchange System (CNIES), a real-time information sharing tool designed to allow collaboration in countering illicit trafficking. The operators participating in the event were from Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. There were also representatives from the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Maritime Operations Center, and SOUTHCOM’s Communications, Plans and Programs; and Science, Technology and Experimentation divisions. Since 1999, the U.S. and countries in the Caribbean and Central America have been using CNIES to support regional counter-illicit trafficking operations. However, with the rapid evolution of information sharing technologies and in response to U.S. partner nations’ requests for improved domain awareness capability, SOUTHCOM has led a series of initiatives intended to develop the next generation of information sharing systems for this purpose. Beginning in 2005 with the Regional Airspace Initiative Latin America studies, which assessed military and civilian domain awareness capabilities, and culminating in 2011 with the Virtual Integrated Domain Awareness experiment, the concept evolved from that of a “brick and mortar” facility to a “virtual” internet based, multi-domain information sharing capability: the Cooperative Situational Information Integration (CSII) system. Information sharing for counter-illicit trafficking operations currently supported by CNIES is slowly transitioning to the new, more capable, internet-based CSII platform. The complete transition is scheduled for 2014. The CSII system integrates sensor information from participating countries into a regional, internet-based, unclassified information sharing system. It hopes to increase battlespace awareness and improve partner nation capacity in multiple mission areas, including counter-illicit trafficking, combating transnational organized crime, foreign humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and search and rescue. It aims to break down domain awareness stovepipes through the lateral and vertical integration of air tracks, maritime tracks, and land-based geo-spatial information into a single network. In preparation for the transition to CSII, in the last two days of the CITOCI Regional Workshop, CNIES operators participated in a live demonstration of CSII. The demonstration, facilitated by SOUTHCOM’s Science, Technology and Experimentation division, and SRI (the system developer), included a brief tour of the web-based system, demonstration of key features and capabilities, and hands-on familiarization for each operator. Data sources available for the demonstration included live feeds from the Tethered Aerostat Radar System and the Maritime Safety and Security Information System, as well as manually-entered tracks. Some of the features and capabilities demonstrated included track management (viewing tracks and position details, track history, vector projection, and threat levels), track sharing, geospatial rule management, alert management, geographic event creation, manual track creation and management, visual filtering, user preference configuration, user views and bookmarks, chat, and information sharing policy management, including both coarse and fine-grained entitlements. With the exception of local internet connectivity challenges, CSII was successfully accessed from a wide range of commercial laptops, tablets, and netbooks. The system’s data and applications ran smoothly on all platforms. The platforms utilized a variety of Internet browsers, demonstrating a broad range of front-end compatibility. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants were given the opportunity to provide feedback and encouraged to share their concerns, recommendations and general observations regarding operational employment of CSII and any potential mission impact the new system might have. User feedback was generally positive, and most importantly, it included operationally relevant recommendations to modify features and functions that will undoubtedly enhance CSII technical capability and operational utility.
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The researchers plan to release their country-by-country findings next week.Rules for safe communication, such as barring connections to disreputable web addresses, tend to be enforced less when users take computers home, said analyst Lari Huttunen at Arctic.That means previously safe networks can become exposed. In many cases, corporate firewalls and security policies had protected machines that had been infected by viruses or targeted malware, he said. Outside of the office, that protection can fall off sharply, allowing the infected machines to communicate again with the original hackers.That has been exacerbated because the sharp increase in VPN volume led some stressed technology departments to permit less rigorous security policies.”Everybody is trying to keep these connections up, and security controls or filtering are not keeping up at these levels,” Huttunen said.The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity agency agreed this week that VPNs bring with them a host of new problems.”As organizations use VPNs for telework, more vulnerabilities are being found and targeted by malicious cyber actors,” wrote DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.The agency said it is harder to keep VPNs updated with security fixes because they are used at all hours, instead of on a schedule that allows for routine installations during daily boot-ups or shutdowns.Even vigilant home users may have problems with VPNs. The DHS agency on Thursday said some hackers who broke into VPNs provided by San Jose-based Pulse Secure before patches were available a year ago had used other programs to maintain that access.Other security experts said financially motivated hackers were using pandemic fears as bait and retooling existing malicious programs such as ransomware, which encrypts a target’s data and demands payment for its release. Topics : Hacking activity against corporations in the United States and other countries more than doubled by some measures last month as digital thieves took advantage of security weakened by pandemic work-from-home policies, researchers said. Corporate security teams have a harder time protecting data when it is dispersed on home computers with widely varying setups and on company machines connecting remotely, experts said. Even those remote workers using virtual private networks (VPNs), which establish secure tunnels for digital traffic, are adding to the problem, officials and researchers said.Software and security company VMWare Carbon Black said this week that ransomware attacks it monitored jumped 148% in March from the previous month, as governments worldwide curbed movement to slow the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 130,000. “There is a digitally historic event occurring in the background of this pandemic, and that is there is a cybercrime pandemic that is occurring,” said VMWare cybersecurity strategist Tom Kellerman.”It’s just easier, frankly, to hack a remote user than it is someone sitting inside their corporate environment. VPNs are not bullet-proof, they’re not the be-all, end-all.”Using data from U.S.-based Team Cymru, which has sensors with access to millions of networks, researchers at Finland’s Arctic Security found that the number of networks experiencing malicious activity was more than double in March in the United States and many European countries compared with January, soon after the virus was first reported in China.The biggest jump in volume came as computers responded to scans when they should not have. Such scans often look for vulnerable software that would enable deeper attacks.