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Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’
August 5th, 2015

Windows 10 Service Agreement upsetting privacy watchdogs

Targeted advertisements based on your search history, location tracking, Wi-Fi sharing, torrent style updates – features that share too much are getting privacy watchdogs in a tizzy.

 

Windows 10

image via Microsoft

Reviewers and consumers alike are happy about the new Windows 10, but now that there has been time to read through the 45-page long consolidation of Service Agreements into one central agreement (which also covers Bing, Outlook, and Xbox Live) some data protection advocates are taking issue with certain features. The European Digital Rights (EDRi) organization summarized that “Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties.”

Sharing your business to keep yourself organized

Anyone remember this assistant?

Anyone remember this assistant?

One of the useful but controversial features in Windows 10 is a personal digital assistant called Cortana, similar to Apple’s Siri (and light years away from Clippit, Windows 95 office assistant!) Cortana can set reminders, recognize your natural voice, use information from Bing to answer questions, and of course save all that information in order to provide personalized search results, which basically means you are being profiled so targeted ads can be presented to you (Facebook and Google does that too). Cortana can be disabled and you can opt out of personalized ads.

Read more…

Categories: General Tags: , , ,
July 23rd, 2015

Microsoft releases emergency Windows patch after discovery of critical security flaw

With the release of their newest operating system just days away, now is not the most convenient time for Microsoft to be facing and dealing with security bugs. However, two thirds of all 1.5 billion PCs operated by Windows across the globe were recently left vulnerable due to a security flaw found in nearly every version of Windows, including Windows 10 Insider Preview.

If you use Windows, the time to update is now!

If you use Windows, the time to update is now!

The flaw (MS15-078) lies within the Windows Adobe Type Manager Library and can be exploited by cybercriminals to hijack PCs and/or infect them with malware. Users can be attacked when they visit untrusted websites that contain malicious embedded OpenType fonts. Microsoft explains more about the threat in a security bulletin advisory:

An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could take complete control of the affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.

There are multiple ways an attacker could exploit this vulnerability, such as by convincing a user to open a specially crafted document, or by convincing a user to visit an untrusted webpage that contains embedded OpenType fonts. The update addresses the vulnerability by correcting how the Windows Adobe Type Manager Library handles OpenType fonts.

The flaw has been classified as critical, which is Microsoft’s highest measured level of threat. Anyone running Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1, Server 2008, Server 2012 and Windows RT are affected by the flaw. Microsoft’s online Security TechCenter includes a full list of affected software and additional vulnerability information.

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July 22nd, 2015

Windows 10 security features consumers can look forward to

Windows 10 will be launching in T-minus seven days and will be offered for free within its first year of availability to Windows 7 and 8 users. Not only will the beloved Start button be back in Windows 10, but Windows 10 will also include a personal assistant, Cortana. What’s more, the new operating system will introduce many promising security features and a new browser.

Image: TechRadar

Image: TechRadar

Hello there, Windows Hello and Passport!

Windows Hello is biometric authentication that either scans your face, iris or fingerprint to access your Windows 10 device – very secret agent-like security! By doing so, Windows Hello eliminates the chance of hackers stealing your password to access your device, simply because you will no longer have a password to begin with!

Windows Passport also eliminates the use of passwords to access your online accounts. For now, Microsoft will work with the Azure Active Directory and has joined the FIDO alliance to subsequently support password replacement for other consumer, financial and security services. Windows will verify that you are truly the one using your device through a PIN or via Windows Hello, and then it will authenticate Windows Passport so you can log in to websites and services without ever using a password. Combined use of Windows Hello and Windows Passport would mean that a hacker would not only have to physically steal your device, but also kidnap you to access your accounts.

You will, of course, need hardware that is capable of infrared scanning your face or iris, or that has a built-in fingerprint reader to use Windows Hello. Microsoft has already confirmed that all OEM systems with Intel® RealSense™ 3D Camera (F200) will support Windows Hello’s facial unlock features.

Read more…

July 17th, 2015

Patches from Adobe, Oracle, and Microsoft released

Avast Software Updater helps you apply software updates.

Earlier this week, we told our readers about the three Flash Player zero-day vulnerabilities that were found in stolen files that were leaked from the Hacking Team. We advised Avast users to disable Flash until the bugs are fixed.

It doesn’t look good for Flash. Because of the continuing security problems facing the 20-year old platform, Google and Mozilla each announced this week that their Web browsers will eventually be dropping default support for Adobe Flash, and Facebook’s new security chief wants to kill Flash. For now you can still use it, but the reports of it’s death are not greatly exaggerated…

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June 5th, 2015

TGIF: Wrap-up May 6 – June 5

We have had a busy month with multiple announcements important to Avast customers and company-watchers. Here’s the quick rundown in case you missed it.

Avast SecureMe protects Apple watch

Avast SecureMe will launch in the next month or so to protect the new Apple Watch, as well as iPhones and iPads, when connected to unsecured Wi-Fi. That’s sure to make Apple gadget freaks happy. Read Avast SecureMe Protects Apple Watch Wi-Fi Users.

Image via TechRadar

Image via TechRadar

Windows 10 is scheduled to launch in July, and Avast is ready. Avast version V2015 R2 and newer are already compatible with Windows 10. Read Latest versions of Avast compatible with Windows 10.

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June 3rd, 2015

Latest versions of Avast compatible with Windows 10

Image via TechRadar

The future of Windows is just around the corner. (Image via TechRadar)

Earlier this week, Microsoft confirmed that the Windows 10 official launch date will be on July 29 and will be available as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users (for one year). This latest OS will be available to pre-order in the upcoming weeks when it launches in 190 different markets across the globe. In anticipation of Microsoft’s exciting new OS, this Techradar article takes a brief look at the operating system’s past:

With Windows 8 and today Windows 8.1, Microsoft tried – not entirely successfully – to deliver an operating system (OS) that could handle the needs of not only number-crunching workstations and high-end gaming rigs, but touch-controlled systems from all-in-one PCs for the family and thin-and-light notebooks down to slender tablets.

Now, Windows 10 has emerged as an operating system optimized for PCs, tablets and phones in unique ways – a truly innovative move from Microsoft’s side. Its big reveal is now quickly approaching, and tech enthusiasts everywhere are curious to see how this OS will measure up.

Will Avast be compatible with Windows 10?

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December 26th, 2014

Hackers claim Christmas day outage of Sony PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox networks

PSN offlineEarlier this month, as the Sony Entertainment breach was making headlines, Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) was knocked offline due to an alleged hacking attack. On Christmas morning, just as kids everywhere were unwrapping their new PlayStation and Xboxes, the PSN and Microsoft’s Xbox Live network were both disrupted leading to speculation that they were once again hacked. A group calling themselves Lizard Squad claiming responsibility for the attacks via Twitter.

As of now, PlayStation is still offline and PSN is directing users to their @AskPlayStation Twitter account for updates.

Xbox Live Status reports that its core services are running, but there is limited access to apps for IGN, Maxim, and MLG.tv.

Related article: Sony PlayStation Network down due to hacker attack

Categories: General Tags: , , ,
October 13th, 2014

Big updates coming from Microsoft, Oracle and Adobe this Tuesday

Patch Tuesday Oct 2014

Pour yourself a cup of coffee; this could take a while.

One of the biggest “Patch Tuesday” fixes is happening October 14, when vital updates will be available from three companies at the same time.

We are all used to the monthly Patch Tuesdays from Microsoft and Adobe, but this month the quarterly updates from Oracle, the parent of problem child Java SE, coincide, making it a pretty big day for securing your system. Avast experts agree that one of the most important steps you can take to securing your data and devices is to make sure that you keep your software up-to-date.

Microsoft

Microsoft leads off the normal Patch Tuesday with the release of 9 security updates across products including a critical patch of Internet Explorer, all supported versions of Windows, and the .NET development framework.

Oracle

Oracle’s Critical Patch Update is a collection of patches for multiple security vulnerabilities. It contains 155 new security fixes across hundreds of Oracle products; 25 of them for Oracle Java SE. Oracle warns that “these vulnerabilities may be remotely exploitable without authentication, i.e., may be exploited over a network without the need for a username and password. “ That’s not good, if you were wondering.

“I would suggest removing Java if possible or at least turning it off in all your browsers,”  advises Jiri Sejtko, director of AVAST Virus Lab operations. Here are removal instructions for the most popular browsers: How do I disable Java in my browser?

Adobe

It is hoped that Adobe’s Tuesday update will include a plug for the big Digital Editions e-book and PDF reader hole, but more likely it will be next week. In a statement to the American Library Association, Adobe reports they “expect an update to be available no later than the week of October 20” in terms of transmission of reader data.

Tuesday’s patch will probably include a fix for bugs in Adobe Flash Player.

avast! Software Updater shows you an overview of all your outdated software applications, so you can keep them up to date and eliminate any security vulnerabilities.  All avast! security products inform you whenever any of your 3rd party applications are out-of-date and you can apply updates manually by clicking the ‘Fix now’ button next to each conflicting application. avast! Premier can be configured to perform these updates automatically.

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

May 1st, 2014

Microsoft issues patch for Internet Explorer (and Windows XP too!)

Microsoft issues patch for Internet Explorer bugWe informed you a few days ago about a new vulnerability in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which allows attackers to execute code remotely, ultimately giving them full control over your PC. The vulnerability targets Internet Explorer versions 6 through 11. AVAST took immediate action and issued a new definition update which addresses this specific vulnerability and protects our users running Internet Explorer.

Today Microsoft announced that they would release a security update to address the issue affecting Internet Explorer.  Most customers have automatic updates enabled and will not need to take any action because protections will be downloaded and installed automatically. Microsoft advised those manually updating, to apply this update as quickly as possible, “now is the time,” wrote spokesperson Dustin Childs in the bulletin.

To enable Automatic Update, open the Control Panel, go to the Windows Update and click the “Check for Updates” button. Find detailed instructions here.

AVAST continues to support Windows XP users.In a surprise move, Microsoft also decided to issue a security update for Windows XP users. If you read this blog, you know that support was discontinued on April 8, and you are also aware that AVAST will continue to support Windows XP for home and business users.

This doesn’t mean that Windows XP support will start up again. In fact, Microsoft encourages “customers to migrate to a modern operating system.”  On a company blog today, an executive wrote about Windows XP, “… the reality is that the threats we face today from a security standpoint have really outpaced the ability to protect those customers using an operating system that dates back over a decade.”

There you have it. Straight from the horse’s mouth. We suggest you make the switch to Google Chrome.

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news and product information, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. Business owners – check out our business products.

April 14th, 2014

Windows XP users sticking to the OS despite support cutoff

The majority of AVAST customers running Windows XP said they will rely on AVAST to protect them.

 

Last month Ondrej Vlcek, Chief Operating Officer of AVAST, shared his opinion on the end of Windows XP support by Microsoft, revealing that 23.6% of AVAST’s over 200 million users were still using Windows XP. Since then less than 2% of AVAST Windows XP users have parted ways with the operating system. We conducted a global survey just days before the support end date to find out how aware our Windows XP users were of the support cutoff and what they were planning on doing.

AVAST protects Windows XP usersHow aware were Windows XP users that their support was expiring?

Months ago Microsoft announced that it would no longer support Windows XP, sending daily warning messages to XP users a month before the end date, April 8, 2014. The media, especially technology-focused media, has been buzzing about the end of support. Our survey found that 21% of Windows XP users were unaware that Microsoft would be ending support, despite Microsoft’s efforts and the media attention around the topic.

What actions were Windows XP users planning on taking?

Although Microsoft recommends upgrading the operating system as the first option home XP users should take to protect themselves, AVAST found that only 15% of XP users were planning on upgrading their OS. The second option Microsoft suggests is for XP users to purchase a new PC, as many of the newer operating systems aren’t compatible with older devices. This does not seem like a popular option for many XP users, which is understandable considering the costs that come with purchasing a new PC. Only 5% of Windows XP users plan on purchasing a new PC. The majority of AVAST customers running Windows XP said they will rely on AVAST to protect them.

Windows XP post 2_April 2014How faithful Windows XP users should protect themselves.

The survey also revealed that 27% of Windows XP users were not planning on doing anything. As AVAST users they are protecting themselves since we will continue to support Windows XP users for at least the next three years. This number is relatively high considering the security risks involved with the OS and makes one wonder how many XP users are not concerned about their protection and aren’t planning on upgrading their OS, buying a new PC or seeking AV that will support them. AVAST has been creating protection modules and detections specifically designed to cover Windows XP vulnerabilities and other security problems. We recommend non-AVAST Windows XP users download AVAST for the added protection. avast! 2014 is a light product, both in terms of speed and resource consumption, tailored for older PCs running XP. In addition to this, we recommend users stop using Internet Explorer, as the browser poses an even larger threat when used on Windows XP. The latest version of Internet Explorer for Windows XP is 8, which is outdated and lacks many security improvements available in later versions of the browser. We recommend XP users switch to a safer browser that updates itself, like Google Chrome.

1) Percent of global AVAST users using Windows XP

Related post: AVAST will continue to support Windows XP for home and business users

Thank you for using avast! Antivirus and recommending us to your friends and family. For all the latest news, fun and contest information, please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google+. Business owners – check out our business products.

 

Categories: General Tags: , ,