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Microsoft sets post-retirement patching record with Windows XP fix

May 24, 2019 - 8:49 AM - by Reverend
Microsoft on Wednesday resurrected Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 long enough to push patches to the long-dead products. It was the first time since 2017 that Microsoft deemed the situation serious enough to warrant a security fix for XP.

Windows XP fell off the public support list in April 2014, while Windows Server 2003 was removed in July 2015.

"If you are on an out-of-support version, the best way to address this vulnerability is to upgrade to the latest version of Windows," Simon Pope, director of incident response at the Microsoft Security Response Center, asserted in a post to a company blog. "Even so, we are making fixes available for these out-of-support versions of Windows."

Although Pope said the bug has yet to be publicly exploited, he made it sound like that was just a matter of time. "[The vulnerability] requires no user interaction. In other words, the vulnerability is 'wormable,' meaning that any future malware that exploits this vulnerability could propagate from vulnerable computer to vulnerable computer in a similar way as the WannaCry malware spread across the globe in 2017," he wrote.

In fact, some IT administrators reported that a Windows Server-powered "honeypot" - a system purposefully designed to attract malicious attention - has been undergoing constant attacks from locations in Asia and elsewhere.

Pope's reference to WannaCry is notable because the last time Microsoft patched Windows XP was in May and June 2017, when it tried to stop the spread of the virulent ransomware. In that case, Microsoft supplied patches to Windows XP, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003, all of which had already been retired.

The bug patched for Windows XP and Server 2003 is one of four disclosed Tuesday by a small host of security researchers. All resemble the Spectre and Meltdown flaws of early 2018 in that they were found within... [Read More]
  0 Replies | 18 Views

Minecraft AR game could be the next Pokémon GO phenomenon

May 20, 2019 - 8:24 AM - by Reverend
The world of Minecraft is about to get even more real.

Players of the popular building-block game will soon be able to use augmented reality, or AR, to build creations on their phones, overlaid on live video of physical locations in the real world.

On Friday, Microsoft teased a trailer for its upcoming mobile game, called Minecraft Earth, due out this summer.

Minecraft, which can be played on computers, gaming consoles such as Xbox, or mobile devices, allows players to build virtual worlds out of blocks and create their own story lines. The game has sold over 176 million copies worldwide.

The new mobile version could make AR more popular with mainstream audiences. By using the cameras on a mobile device, the game will overlay the Minecraft world onto whatever the camera is pointing at, allowing players to walk around and engage with others.

The trailer shows a young lady exploring her neighborhood and coming into contact with Minecraft creations.

The game is another step toward growing augmented reality from a largely solitary activity on headsets into a social experience. It comes nearly three years after the success of the Pokémon GO game, which allowed players to capture Pokémon characters superimposed onto the spaces around them. Niantic, the company behind the game, is working on a Harry Potter AR game, announced in 2017.

An AR-version of Minecraft has been under development for a while. A demo designed for Microsoft's HoloLens was shown to reporters in 2015 at an event but hasn't been available to the general public.

  0 Replies | 125 Views

Spotify is testing a voice-controlled gadget for cars

May 20, 2019 - 8:20 AM - by Reverend
Spotify revealed Friday that it's testing a voice-controlled device for cars.

A small group of Spotify's premium users, who pay for an ad-free version of the service, will try the devices in the United States.

Spotify also said that in the future it may test similar devices in homes, too. The announcement suggests Spotify has some interest in creating hardware devices that may compete with Amazon's line of Echos, Google Home and Apple's HomePod. Research has shown that listening to music is among the most popular uses of smart speakers.

The Swedish company has 217 million users worldwide, giving it a large market to sell to. But Spotify said its focus remains on being the world's best audio platform, and that it has no current plans to make the device, called "Car Thing," available to consumers. An image of Car Thing shared by Spofity shows an oval black device with a small round screen off to one side, and a few indicator lights next to it. It looks like a fancy Amazon Dash button.

Spotify characterized the tests as a way to better understand and serve customers who listen to music or podcasts. Earlier this year, Spotify announced plans to invest up to $500 million in podcasts.

"Americans spend 70 billion hours behind the wheel each year," Spotify said in a brief news release. "Spotify is trying to learn more about people's listening habits and preferences to help create an unparalleled experience for our users."

  0 Replies | 113 Views

Install updates now to address a vulnerability in most Intel CPUs

May 15, 2019 - 8:19 AM - by Reverend
In January 2018, a pair of security exploits dubbed Spectre and Meltdown showed how attackers could take advantage of commonly-implemented CPU technology to access data they shouldn't have been able to. They were followed by a similar bug, Foreshadow, late last year, and now researchers have uncovered four different techniques that exploit Intel's speculative execution technology in a similar way.

The website CPU.fail has collected information about each vulnerability -- they're collectively referred to as Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) -- including Zombieload, RIDL & Fallout, and Store-to-Leak Forwarding. Example code shows how the attacks could be launched using malicious JavaScript, for example, and researchers state that it would be difficult for antivirus software to detect it, however they have not found evidence of anyone using the tech in attacks so far.

If you have a computer using an Intel CPU released since 2011 then congratulations -- you've likely won a vulnerability, since only "select" 8th and 9th gen Core CPUs as well as 2nd generation Xeon Scalable CPUs have hardware protection against the attacks.

Patching the holes will require a combination of firmware updates and software updates. macOS, Windows, ChromeOS and Linux already have software updates to address MDS attacks, while Intel has also released microcode updates for some of its hardware (PDF) that you should get through motherboard and system vendors.

  0 Replies | 253 Views

The Play Store is starting to suggest removing unused apps

May 13, 2019 - 7:38 AM - by Reverend
You probably accumulate apps on your phone over time, and you likely had a perfectly good reason for installing them at the time. How many of those apps do you actually need, though? The Play Store knows, and it's starting to tell users to ditch those unneeded apps.

Some users are seeing a notification from the Play Store that reminds them to get rid of unused apps. It's a bit reminiscent of the app manager that popped up back in 2016. If you tap the notification, you end up in the Notification section of the Play Store. From there, you can tap again to get a list of apps you haven't used lately. For each app you select, the Play Store shows how much space you've saved.

The notification is far from universal, but that's par for Play Store features. This feature may or may not roll out to everyone, and you might never see it if you keep your phone light on apps.

Android Police
  0 Replies | 284 Views

64-megapixel phone cameras are coming

May 09, 2019 - 12:21 PM - by Reverend
Samsung has announced a new image sensor for mobile phones with a higher resolution than anything comparable on the market. The ISOCELL Bright GW1 is a 64-megapixel sensor that uses the same 0.8μm-sized pixels as Samsung’s current 48-megapixel component, meaning it’ll be a physically larger sensor that can capture more light overall.

The Bright GW1 will produce 16-megapixel images by merging four pixels into one, like how existing 48-megapixel sensors turn out 12-megapixel photos by default. Samsung’s new sensor will also be able to descramble the color filter for full-resolution 64-megapixel shots in good light. Sony’s IMX586 48-megapixel sensor has a similar capability, but Samsung’s doesn’t; today the Korean company is also announcing an updated 48-megapixel part that offers the same feature.

48-megapixel cameras are now a common sight on phones: Samsung, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, and others have all shipped devices with the sensors. Samsung expects its 64-megapixel part to go into mass production in the second half of this year, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the feature show up on spec sheets for late-2019 flagships — particularly if image sensor market leader Sony follows suit.

The Verge
  0 Replies | 347 Views

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