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Roundup: USF plans virtual commencement; TAO Connect and SalonCentric offer help; Cyber Florida, FTC take on scams

Margie Manning



Photo credit: USF St. Petersburg

Today’s roundup includes news about University of South Florida, TAO Connect, SalonCentric and Cyber Florida.

With the traditional commencement ceremonies off the table for May due to the coronavirus outbreak, University of South Florida has made alternative plans to recognize the thousands of spring graduates.

USF will expand the number of in-person summer commencement ceremonies, currently scheduled for Aug. 6-9, to provide spring grads a chance to take part. USF also will host a virtual commencement ceremony in May for each USF campus, available for viewing beginning on Saturday, May 9.

USF is also developing creative plans for graduates to interact from afar via social media.  More details on this campaign will be shared with students soon, the university said.

Mental health has been a challenge for some during the pandemic.

TAO Connect, a St. Petersburg company with a digital platform to make behavioral health therapy more accessible and effective, is offering a free online help session specific to Covid-19. The company also is opening its entire suite of mindfulness meditation exercises to the public. Both programs are free and accessible here.

For the professional beauty business, there’s a severe economic impact. Research by Kline & Co. shows many salons won’t reopen until the third quarter of 2020, with potential unemployment ranging from 5 percent to 15 percent.

L’Oréal and its Salon Centric division based in St. Petersburg are offering payment relief for salon and stylist customers with outstanding credit balances. L’Oréal has made a $200,000 donation to the Professional Beauty Association COVID-19 Relief Fund, while SalonCentric donated  1 million medical-grade gloves to medical centers throughout the U.S., a news release said.

Cyber Florida has created an online Cybersecurity Advisory Center, to help Floridians combat the proliferation of online scams, phishing emails and fraudulent malicious websites stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

J. Michael (Mike) McConnell

The crisis has initiated a shift in society, with people who were previously reluctant to adopt connected technologies now finding themselves working, learning and shopping online, said Mike McConnell, who was named executive director of Cyber Florida earlier this year.

“That’s millions of new devices and potential victims for cybercriminals to target. Learning basic cyber hygiene practices now can significantly reduce your risk of becoming a cybercrime victim,” McConnell said.

The site, available here, offers technical threat advisories for IT professionals as well as non-technical threat awareness bulletins, articles, and best practices for end-users. Visitors can sign up to receive email alerts for both technical and non-technical content, and cybersecurity professionals are encouraged to share the site and its content freely with end-users.

The Federal Trade Commission also is attacking scams that proliferate during the crisis. The federal agency has developed “Scam Bingo,” to check off scams you’ve spotted and steps you’ve taken to stop them. The FTC wants people to print out the bingo cards, share on social media and ask friends to play along. When you have bingo, share it with the FTC on Facebook or Twitter, to raise awareness of scams and help others.

Click here to get your own bingo card.





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