Cybercriminals Impersonate These Well-Known Companies in Phishing Emails

Suspicious emails coming through to your mailbox? Does the email claim to be from Microsoft and need your login information to fix an unfounded issue? Cybercriminals increasingly send victims emails such as these, impersonating large-scale companies to appear legitimate, and it’s not only Microsoft impersonations. From Facebook to Amazon, to Paypal and Netflix, it’s a good idea to double check where those emails are actually coming from.

Cybersecurity company Vade Secure conducted an analysis of companies that were most impersonated and found that Microsoft was one of the most used brands in phishing schemes, with an increase of 15.5% since the previous year. Due to the popularity in Outlook mail and Office365, Microsoft is a widely popular impersonation target. With businesses and corporations relying on Office365 for keeping restricted and sensitive files, hackers look for any means necessary to get their hands on such valuable information. Access to Office365 accounts can also open more doors for targeting other users to gain access to more accounts. 

Illegitimate emails claiming to be from Microsoft ask users to log in via a link provided by the hacker and open up a spoof page that mirrors the actual website, prompting users to input their login credentials and submitting it to the cybercriminal.

Paypal comes out as the second most common company to be used in phishing schemes, as the brand is easily recognizable by many. While Paypal still remains a popular choice in targeting victims with fake emails, malicious URL targeting has been declining.

The third most popular company to be used in a phishing attack is Facebook, as Vade Secure tracked a 176% increase in fake URL use to target users’ social media accounts. The social network acts as a perfect opportunity for hackers to send phishing messages to victims’ friends. Facebook access can particularly be harmful if victims have third party applications connected, to which cybercriminals can also access. 

The report further lists other brands like Netflix, Bank of America, and Apple that are also used in these emails. Amazon is now the eighth most popular brand for phishing use by hackers, and its use has grown over 400% in just a year, this likely due to the popularity in Amazon Prime Day and the extensive number of shoppers on the site. 

Phishing attacks are continuously utilized by hackers due to the cheap and easy way it reaches a mass of users. If you receive any such suspicious emails in your inbox, mark it as spam immediately. If you are ever unsure about your account, log in through the company’s official site instead of clicking on malicious email links.

Microsoft Reveals Hackers Accessed Emails from Outlook.com Users

Microsoft Outlook Logo
Image Source: Microsoft Outlook logo

Recently Microsoft had announced that a security breach had taken place on its Outlook.com site, in which hackers were able to access user accounts, essentially allowing cybercriminals to view email messages, email addresses, and folder names.

According to Microsoft, a support agent’s web mail service was compromised, allowing hackers to access user accounts from January 1st to March 28th, 2019. Once the issue was discovered, the support account was taken down.

Vice’s Motherboard claims that the hackers had access to users’ accounts for six months, to which Microsoft had refuted and stated that the breach occurred within the three month period as mentioned in their notification message to its users. The compromise allowed hackers to even access iCloud accounts to remove the Activation Lock feature on stolen iPhones – a feature that would prevent thieves from factory resetting the devices to sell for profit.

Microsoft had notified those consumers – around six percent – who had their email contents potentially breached by the hackers. The total number of consumers affected by this breach has not been revealed by Microsoft.

Microsoft Creates “Code Jumper” Programming Tool for Visually Impaired Children

Image Source: Microsoft

Microsoft is helping to redefine how coding and programming language is taught to kids, specifically assisting children with visual impairments through the creation of a physical programming tool.

Microsoft researchers at Cambridge, UK first put together a physical programming tool called Code Jumper–originally termed Project Torino–that started two years ago. Code Jumper seeks to bridge the gap between children with visual disabilities and coding participation. The gadget works by a learner physically connecting color coded pods in order to build code. One researcher Cecily Morrison had commented on potentially having this technology be used by all learners, explaining how “one of [the] key design principles was inclusion [for the project].” She continues, “[t]he idea was to create something that a whole mainstream class could use, and they could use together.”

Code Jumper is specifically tailored towards children who are aged 7 to 11. Through this programming tool, kids can make songs, create noises, and poetry, such programming concepts and skills ultimately useful and transferable to computer science careers down the line.

As Microsoft reporter Allison Linn writes in a blog, “The system…is designed to grow with kids. Once they have mastered the physical programming language, [Microsoft researchers] also have created an app that allows kids to transfer the coding…into text-based code…”

Senior researcher Nicolas Villar demonstrated Code Jumper to the leaders at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), a non-profit organization that provides services for those who are visually impaired. From there, the APH and Microsoft have been working together to bring Code Jumper to students in Australia, Canada, India, the UK, and the US. As Tom Warren from The Verge reports, Code Jumper is expected to be available worldwide by 2023.

Data Transfer Project Will Soon Be Available between Apps like Google, Facebook and More

Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft have all teamed up and announced the new data transfer project (DTP). As Google described it, we can now transfer data directly from one service to another, without having to download the other provider and re-upload our data. This can be done in a lot more ways, but participants just hope that this process will prove to be much faster and flexible for the users.

This process can force companies to compete on utility instead of being protected by data lock-in that traps the users because of how tough it is to switch services.

As the TechCrunch article mentions:

“From porting playlists in music streaming services to health data from fitness trackers to our reams of photos and videos, the DTP could be a boon for startups. Incumbent tech giants maintain a huge advantage in popularizing new functionality because they instantly interoperate with a user’s existing data rather than making them start from scratch. Even if a social networking startup builds a better location sharing feature, personalized avatar, or payment system, it might be a lot easier to use Facebook’s clone of it because that’s where your profile, friends, and photos live.”

With such tech giants cooperating together, the DTP can actually instigate users to put new apps into use. Meanwhile, the companies argue that the government shouldn’t regulate them or break them up because DTP means users are free to choose whichever app that they desire. Federal regulation could potentially slow down the DTP and restrict users from easy access to data across multiple platforms.

 

To view the original article, click here.

 

 

 

 

Microsoft HoloLens Development at Inverselogic

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Microsoft is taking the augmented reality world by storm with the new Microsoft HoloLens, and we couldn’t be more excited. We at Inverselogic just received our developers version of the HoloLens last week, and we plan on doing some big things to contribute to the development world of Virtual Reality.

After a much anticipated arrival, we wanted to share our first thoughts.
The Microsoft HoloLens is far from being completed. As we have the developers version, there is a lot that is lacking in terms of usability. The HoloLens operates on a limited version of Windows 10 and recognizes basic hand gestures in place of clicking and swiping. In our limited use, we discovered the ability to place a virtual dinosaur in the middle of the room. While it doesn’t move or do anything too exciting yet, it’s pretty nifty to see an object remain in one place while you (virtually) walk around it. There isn’t much else aside from a home screen and menu, but we look forward to the big things HoloLens will be rolling out in the time to come.

 

HoloLens 1 aDSC05397 aDSC05401 aDSC05406 aDSC05407 aDSC05432 aDSC05441 HoloLens 1

Microsoft Ends Support for Older Internet Explorer Browsers

Are you running on Internet Explorer? If so, now might be a good time to upgrade to the latest browser. If you’re running on IE 8, 9, or 10, Microsoft wants you to know that they will no longer be supporting the previous versions of the web browser on most Windows computers. In an attempt to phase out of IE and over to their new default browser, Edge, Microsoft will be issuing security updates and bug fixes to IE 11 only.

If you decide to continue using an out-of-date browser, consider yourselves warned. You could be putting yourself at risk for malware and cyber attacks, since Microsoft will no longer push security updates and bug fixes. However, if you are running on Windows Vista, Microsoft will continue to support IE 9.

In this day in age, most of what we do is inter-connected. We can run entire businesses from a single web page, or collaborate with others on cloud-based file storage and sharing sites. By using an out-of-date web browser with known vulnerabilities, you are susceptible to cyber attacks that could be prevented with a single update – and that is what Microsoft is trying to avoid.  So to prevent any mishaps, let the automatic updates do what they’re meant to do.

With that in mind, there is still a continued and very urgent need to have proper security software in place. By ensuring that you have the proper security, new threats can be responded to in a matter of minutes as opposed to handling the fallout of attacks. If you’re lacking proper security software and need to get something in place, Inverselogic can help with that. Visit the ‘Contact Us’ form on our website and we will get in touch with you.

Microsoft first made the announcement to end support for older IE web browsers back in 2014. With the launch of Windows 10 in 2015, Microsoft gave users the newest default browser, Edge, which is said to be quite the improvement over Internet Explorer. Interestingly enough, the logo for Edge looks almost exactly like IE’s famous ‘e’ logo.

Microsoft encourages you to upgrade by letting you know the benefits of a newer web browser. “Microsoft recommends customers upgrade to the latest version of Internet Explorer available in order to experience increased performance, improved security, better backward compatibility, and support for the modern web technologies that power today’s websites and services.” (More Lifecycle Support information here)

Microsoft Accidentally Installs Windows 10

If you operate on a Windows 7 or 8 OS, you might be making the jump to Windows 10 quicker than you thought. It’s no secret that Microsoft wants to convert as many people as possible to the new operating system, considering they’re offering it as an optional free upgrade – but now, it may be a little more than an offer. With the new rollout of update prompts, you may have opted in to receive the update without even knowing it. Microsoft says that the automatic Windows 10 upgrades were made in error, but who really knows?

Many users still haven’t made the jump from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10. Although the installer still needs a manual user to start the install, the Windows 10 upgrade box is now automatically checked.  Microsoft said a fix will be administered so that the box isn’t checked by default. But if you plan on continuing to operate on one of the past systems, it might be wise to double check your selections until then.

Not Your Typical Tablet Laptop Hybrid

Microsoft is taking a direct shot at Apple’s Macbook Air & Pro laptops after they introduced their newest machine, the Surface Book, at a press event in New York Tuesday afternoon. Claiming to be the “most powerful laptop on the market,” they may very well be living up to the hype.

Microsoft isn’t quite switching gears with their Surface line, but they definitely aren’t afraid of Captur2emixing it up. This new Surface Book was designed to be a laptop-first device as opposed to their traditional tablet-first Surface devices. The tablet can click in and out of the carefully designed hinge, giving you full laptop range-of-motion capabilities and all the power of a traditional laptop – or a tablet, if you choose.
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“If you’re the architect, you can walk around with it. If you’re on a job site, you can walk around with it. If you’re a friend who’s an NFL quarterback or a friend who’s a coach, and you’re writing on it and you get to use it like a clipboard,” says Microsoft Surface team leader, Panos Panay.

And then you can use it like a laptop. Weighing only 3.3 pounds total and 13 inches in length, the Surface Book is sleek, light, and efficient. With a 12 hour battery life, backlit keys, and more pixels than anyone else in its class, Microsoft is claiming that it’s unlike any other.

Laptop Tablet hybrids have been around for a few years already, but usually felt more like tablets with detachable keyboards. The one exception to this is the Surface Pro – a great laptop, but it’s pretty pricey, making it undesirable for personal use or freelancers, especially since Windows 8 was not easy to transition to for professionals. With this new Surface Book and the improvements made with Windows 10, Microsoft is setting a great foundation for this laptop convertible to be used as a serious work machine.

The 128GB Surface Book starts at $1,499. Unlike its Surface predecessors, the Tablet and Keyboard come together as a pair. The stylus pen is included, as well.Capture3

“The Surface Book is the most powerful laptop on the planet. It has touch, it has a pen, and it does this,” he said as he paused for dramatic effect before detaching the tablet screen.

“Just like that.”

Watch out, Apple. The Macbook Pro might’ve just met its match.

3 Windows 10 Features You Should Know About

It’s only been five days since the release of the highly anticipated Windows 10 operating system, and so far, I’ve heard nothing but praise. When Microsoft released Windows 8 in 2012, they hoped to sway users in favor of touchscreen technology. Unfortunately for them, many of its users preferred an old fashioned mouse and keyboard approach. After months of testing done by an army of beta-users, Microsoft has taken the better features of Windows 8 along with new-and-improved updates that create an all-around user-friendly system. With a few notable changes (3 that we’re mentioning today), Microsoft is transforming your potentially complicated Windows experience into one that will simplify and organize your life – on your PC or Tablet.

We got our Start Menu back!Start Screen

Windows 10 gives you a start menu quite different than the one Windows 8 had – if you’re like me, you probably found the full screen menu takeover to be rather frustrating. Microsoft made a few changes catering to the people’s response, giving users our bottom-left corner Start Menu back (which I find oddly relieving). The left-hand side gives you a list of your most used apps while the right-hand space allows you to allocate the spots for apps of your choice. You can rearrange, remove, and personalize your start menu which is just one way Microsoft is helping you simplify your life.

 

Virtual Desktop

Windows 10 gives you a Virtual Desktop that allows you to see the different desktops and apps that you have open. Although this concept is not entirely new (previous apps have allowed this to work on older Windows Operating Systems), Microsoft has caught up and it now comes as a standard feature on Windows 10 – saving you from having to install any third-party software to achieve this. Windows will even let you change the wallpaper on the designated desktop of your choice, however, it will not allow you to rearrange the desktops themselves. If you’ve ever used an Apple OSX, you’ve probably seen this done, the only difference being that Apple OSX will actually allow you to rearrange the desktops and change the wallpaper.

The Snap Feature

The Snap feature that was introduced on Windows 7 is an all-time favorite of mine, albeit I appreciate the steps taken to improve the simplicity of it with Windows 10. I use this feature on the daily, completely eliminating the need to hop back and forth between separate programs. Having the ability to drag and drop made things so simple – a much easier task than the ‘alt+< left arrow key / > right arrow key’ command, in my opinion. With the upgraded 10 version, you can efficiently drag and drop a window onto one side of the screen and automatically fill the space, prompting a small menu of app icons that quickly allows you to choose what you’d like to fill the opposite side of the screen with. You also have the option of choosing up to four apps to equally fill the screen, a potentially useful feature for those with massive screens.

For those of you with Surface tablets, Windows 10 conveniently allows you to switch between Tablet layout and Laptop layout, all with the push of a button. Upon removing/reconnecting your keyboard, you’re then prompted with the option to stay in laptop/tablet mode or revert to an easier-to-use layout. Surface Pro’s now come with Windows 10 Home Edition as the operating system.
The Windows 10 release seems to have been quite successful – a ‘win’ in Microsoft’s eyes after a poor response to Windows 8. Updates continue to roll in and there have hardly been any con’s worth mentioning, receiving praise from users all around. Focusing on simplicity, personalization, and convenience, Windows 10 entered the marketplace with a bang.

If you currently have Windows 7 or 8, you can reserve your upgrade for free for a limited time. Windows 10 is available for download here.

 

Have you upgraded to Windows 10? Why or why not?

Microsoft Introduces Quanta Compute Plug

Microsoft is stepping up their PC game while simultaneously shrinking its size. Just a few days ago at Computex 2015 in Taiwan, they unveiled the Quanta Compute Plug, an entire PC integrated into a power adapter. Although it’s no bigger than an older phone charger, it operates as a smart computer and Home Theater PC. The HDMI and two USB 2.0 ports allow you to easily connect the device to a monitor or TV, giving you all the benefits of a Windows 10 PC, minus the clutter and size.

Quanta-Compute-plugAlthough Quanta hasn’t directly stated the software it uses, it’s safe to assume that it’s pretty low-power. However, it does allow Bluetooth remote/headset capabilities and can be controlled by Cortana (Microsoft’s version of Siri). As of now, that’s all that is known about the device. Details on price and where it will be sold are still unknown, but more information is expected to be available soon.