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Seven high points of Windows 7

2 months 2 weeks ago

Today Microsoft issues its final free security update for Windows 7, putting an end to that operating system's decade.

To remember that service — a retirement party but without the cloyingly sweet cake and cheap gold watch — Computerworld selected seven highlights of Windows 7. While the seven do not pretend to trace Windows 7's history, they illustrate the influence and impact of the OS.

Here's to Windows 7. Raise a glass, for cryin' out loud.

It salvaged Microsoft's reputation after the Vista debacle

The numbers say it all.

Windows Vista, the 2006 replacement for Windows XP, topped out at 20% of all Windows versions in October 2009. Even though the OS it followed was long in the tooth — XP was nearly twice the age of a typical version when it was supplanted — Vista struggled to put a dent in its forerunner's share.

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Gregg Keizer

Saying goodbye to Windows 7 isn’t easy, but you must

2 months 2 weeks ago

Listen, I get it. Windows 7 has worked really well. After the Vista fiasco, you were so happy to get a decent version of Windows. You dodged the Windows 8.x sinkhole, and, boy, were you glad! Then, you thought about Windows 10, but 7 just did the job so you stuck with it, and then you felt vindicated because of Windows 10’s dodgy upgrades and patches. Now, today, Jan. 14, 2020, Windows 7 has reached its end of life, and either you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 or you’re working on another Windows 7 alternative like Chrome OS, macOS or Linux, right?

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Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Mozilla patches Firefox zero-day as attackers exploit flaw

2 months 3 weeks ago

Just one day after releasing Firefox 72, Mozilla updated the browser with a fix to shut down active attacks, the company acknowledged.

On Wednesday, Mozilla issued Firefox 72.0.1, which included one change: A patch for the vulnerability identified as CVE-2019-17026. "We are aware of targeted attacks in the wild abusing this flaw," Mozilla said in the short description of the flaw, signaling that criminals were already leveraging the zero-day vulnerability, the term applied because there no time elapses between patching and exploitation.

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Gregg Keizer

Your Windows PC may become collateral damage in any conflict with Iran

2 months 3 weeks ago

When Iran launches cyberattacks in revenge for the killing of Major Gen. Qasem Soleimani — which it almost certainly will do — the attack vector, as always, will be Windows. And when that happens, your PC and your business’s PCs will be right in the crosshairs. Here’s why — and how you can protect your machines and your business.

A long history of U.S.-Iranian cyberwarfare

To understand the coming cyberattacks, it’s useful to look back. For more than a decade, the U.S. and Iran have engaged in low-level cyberwarfare, with occasional bursts of higher-level attacks. The most destructive of them was Stuxnet, launched in 2009 by the U.S. and Israel against Iran’s nuclear program. It exploited four zero-day flaws in Windows machines, which controlled the centrifuges Iran used to create nuclear material that can be used in nuclear weapons.

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Preston Gralla

Apple wants privacy laws to protect its users

2 months 3 weeks ago

Your iPhone (like most smartphones) knows when it is picked up, what you do with it, who you call, where you go, who you know – and a bunch more personal information, too.

The snag with your device knowing all this information is that once the data is understood, that information can be shared or even used against you.

Information is power

Jane Horvath, Apple's senior director for global privacy, appeared at CES 2020 this week to discuss the company’s approach to smartphone security. She stressed the company’s opposition to the creation of software backdoors into devices, and also said:

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Jonny Evans

Apple’s wants privacy laws to protect its users

2 months 3 weeks ago

Your iPhone (like most smartphones) knows when it is picked up, what you do with it, who you call, where you go, who you know – and a bunch more personal information, too.

Information is power

The snag with your device knowing all this information is that once the data is understood than that information can be shared or even used against you.

Jane Horvath, Apple's senior director for global privacy, appeared at CES 2012 to discuss the company’s approach to smartphone security.

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Jonny Evans

FAQ: Last-minute answers about Windows 7's post-retirement patches

2 months 3 weeks ago

A week from now, Microsoft will serve customers with the last for-free Windows 7 security update, in effect retiring the 2009 operating system.

However, hundreds of millions of personal computers will still power up thanks to Windows 7 on Jan. 14, and for an indeterminate timespan after that date. Windows 7 may be retiring, but it's not disappearing.

Microsoft admitted as much more than a year ago when it announced Extended Security Updates (ESU), a program for commercial customers who needed more time to ditch Windows 7. ESU would provide patches for some security vulnerabilities for as long as three years. For a fee.

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(Insider Story)
Gregg Keizer

Microsoft Patch Alert: December patches hang Win7 Pro endpoints and force Server 2012 reboots

2 months 4 weeks ago

It was the kind of month admins dread: Mysterious problems on hundreds of machines, with no apparent cause or cure. Toss in the holidays, and we had a whole lot of Mr. and Ms. Grinches in the industry.

Fortunately, it looks like the problems have been sorted out at this point. Individual users had many fewer problems. Microsoft’s left and right hands still aren’t talking on the 1909 team, but what else is new…

Win7 hang on 'Preparing to configure Windows'

Microsoft dropped a new Servicing Stack Update for Windows 7 on Dec. 10, and it gummed up the works for many. Here’s a good summary on Reddit from poster Djaesthetic:

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Woody Leonhard

Top 3 enterprise tech trends to watch in 2020

2 months 4 weeks ago

If blockchain felt more like hype than reality in 2019, prepare for that to change. Industry watchers expect 2020 to be the year the distributed ledger technology matures and we see use cases that go beyond cryptocurrency.

Areas where experts envision growth include data security, the supply chain and electronic health records.

“Someone's gonna hit me, but I think blockchain as it relates to data security (think access management) is going to have some landmark use cases in 2020,” Siobhan Climer, science and technology writer at Mindsight, said during a recent IDG TECH(talk) Twitter chat.

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Michelle Davidson

Amid privacy and security failures, digital IDs advance

2 months 4 weeks ago

Frustration over a growing number of privacy and security failures in recent years is driving the creation of digital identities controlled only by those whose information they contain.

Known as “self-sovereign identities,” the digital IDs will be used by consumers, businesses, their workers and governments over the next few years to verify everything from credit worthiness and college diplomas to licenses and business-to-business credentials.

“We are slowly graduating from crawling to walking. It takes one to two years 'til we have reliable capabilities to spark meaningful decentralized identity adoption,” said Homan Farahmand, a senior research director at Gartner. “A major non-technical hurdle is for organizations to learn the concept and take the necessary steps to appropriately adapt their business processes to decentralized identity ecosystems.”

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Lucas Mearian

Windows vulnerability

3 months ago

Pilot fish is working at a bank, but it’s the 1970s, and ATMs are far from common. What this bank has is an after-hours teller window, available from 3 to 7 p.m. It’s located in a small enclosure accessible from the street, and its operation involves a human teller working behind a reinforced-concrete wall.

When the bank develops an online customer system, the night teller is chosen as the testing ground, because the new system will allow for instant posting of deposits instead of waiting for the next day. And fish, a computer science major, will serve as teller/guinea pig.

But first, a new window has to be constructed, right next to the two-story glass façade of the bank. The work includes putting the cabling inside heavy steel pipes to ensure that no one can tap into them.

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Sharky

Ultra Wideband (UWB) explained (and why it’s in the iPhone 11)

3 months ago

One of the new chips in this year’s crop of iPhones is the U1; it provides Ultra Wideband (UWB) connectivity that, in conjunction with Internet of Things (IoT) technology, could offer a myriad of new services for enterprises and consumers.

As Apple puts it, UWB technology offers “spatial awareness" – the ability for your phone to recognize its surroundings and the objects in it. Essentially, one iPhone 11 user can point his or her phone at another and transfer a file or photo.

While the technology isn't new, Apple’s implementation marks the first time UWB has been used in a modern smartphone.

What is Ultra Wideband?

UWB is a short-range, wireless communication protocol that – like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi – uses radio waves. But it differs substantially in that it operates at a very high frequency. As its name denotes, it also uses a wide spectrum of several GHz. One way to think of it is as a radar that can continuously scan an entire room and precisely lock onto an object like a laser beam to discover its location and communicate data.

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Lucas Mearian

Top tech stories of 2019

3 months 1 week ago
The new Apple Card, the battle for cryptocurrency dominance, cybersecurity skills shortage – just a few of the stories that made headlines in 2019. Watch as IDG TECH(talk) hosts Ken Mingis and Juliet Beauchamp discuss the top tech stories of the year.

Microsoft blinks: Security Essentials will continue to receive updates after Jan. 14

3 months 2 weeks ago

Late last week, I talked about a discrepancy in Microsoft’s promised handling of Microsoft Security Essentials as Windows 7 reaches end of support. An internally inconsistent official announcement seemed to say that MSE signature file updates would stop — even for those who have paid for Extended Security Updates. 

Which is absurd. Why would Microsoft stop updating its antivirus program even for people who are paying to continue receiving Monthly Rollup patches?

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Woody Leonhard

How bad can text security be? One company just showed us.

3 months 2 weeks ago

There is nothing more quintessentially mobile than text messages, the most commonly used communication method today. That's why it was very unsettling that a security research house found — and the vendor at issue essentially confirmed — that a massive number of text messages were stored in plaintext, with no security at all. In short, the texts from what the security research firm estimated were "hundreds of millions of people" were open to any thief or stalker who wanted to look.

The company involved, an Austin-based business called TrueDialog, would likely be unknown to almost all of those users. TrueDialog is a marketing firm offering SMS products and services to other companies — a lot of companies. That will make it hard for consumers to even know if their texts were victimized. Text message users were able to text back, giving the impression of having two-way conversations with businesses.

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Evan Schuman
Checked
36 minutes 55 seconds ago
Computer World Security
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About SecurityFeeds

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Tim Weil is a Security Architect/IT Security Manager with over twenty five years of IT management, consulting and engineering experience in the U.S. Government and Communications Industry.  Mr. Weil's technical areas of expertise include IT Security Management, Enterprise Security Architecture, FISMA Compliance, Identity Management, and Network Engineering. Mr. Weil is a Senior Member of the IEEE and has served in several IEEE positions.