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Microsoft will begin rolling out SHA-2 standalone updates for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 in March in preparation for its July 16 implementation deadline. Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 users need to have SHA-2 code-signing installed by July 16, 2019, in order to continue to get Windows updates after that date. Microsoft issued that warning on February 15 via a Support article. Windows operating system updates are dual-signed using both the SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash algorithms to prove authenticity. A bug going forward, due to "weaknesses" in SHA-1, Microsoft officials have said previously that Windows updates will be using the more secure SHA-2 algorithm exclusively. Customers running Windows 7 SP1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 SP2 must have SHA-2 code-signing support installed by July 2019, Microsoft officials have said. Microsoft has published a timeline for migrating these operating systems to SHA-2, with support for the algorithm coming in standalone updates. On March 12, Microsoft is planning a standalone update with SHA-2 code sign support for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. It also will deliver to WSUS 3.0 SP2 the required support for delivering SHA-2 updates. Microsoft will make available a standalone update with SHA-2 code sign support for Windows Server 2008 SP2 on April 9, 2019. Learn more by visiting OUR FORUM.

Facebook deliberately broke privacy and competition law and should urgently be subject to statutory regulation, according to a devastating parliamentary report denouncing the company and its executives as “digital gangsters”. The final report of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee’s 18-month investigation into disinformation and fake news accused Facebook of purposefully obstructing its inquiry and failing to tackle attempts by Russia to manipulate elections. “Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalized ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day,” warned the committee’s chairman, Damian Collins. Labour moved quickly to endorse the committee’s findings, with the party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, announcing: “Labour agrees with the committee’s ultimate conclusion – the era of self-regulation for tech companies must end immediately. “We need new independent regulation with tough powers and sanctions regime to curb the worst excesses of surveillance capitalism and the forces trying to use technology to subvert our democracy.” The culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, who is to meet Zuckerberg this week to discuss harms resulting from social media, will likely come under pressure to raise the committee’s concerns with the Facebook chief executive directly. Launched in 2017 as concern grew about the influence of false information and its ability to spread unscrutinized on social media, the inquiry was turbocharged in March the following year, with the Cambridge Analytica data-harvesting scandal. There's more posted on OUR FORUM.

New York resident Jay Brodsky has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the company forces users into a two-factor authentication (2FA) straitjacket that they can’t shrug off, that it takes up to five minutes each time users have to enter a 2FA code, and that the time suck is causing “economic losses” to him and other Apple customers. The lawsuit, filed on Friday in Newport Beach, California, is accusing Apple of “trespass,” based on Apple’s “locking [Brodsky] out” of his devices by requiring 2FA that allegedly can’t be disabled after two weeks. The reference to two weeks comes from support email that Apple sometimes sends out to Apple ID owners after it enables 2FA. That email contains what the lawsuit claims, with italicized emphasis, is an unobtrusive last line that says that owners have two weeks to opt out of 2FA and go back to their previous security settings. The suit claims that around September 2015, Brodsky’s Apple devices – including an iPhone and two MacBooks – were updated to have 2FA turned on, “without [his] knowledge or consent,” thus “[locking] up access” to Brodsky’s own devices and making them “inaccessible for intermittent periods of time.” Apple is causing injury to class members by “intermeddling” with the use of their devices and not letting them choose their own security level or “freely enjoy and use” their gadgets, the suit claims. Also, by “injecting itself in the process by requiring extra logging steps,” Apple is allegedly violating California’s Invasion of Privacy Act – Section 637.2 of the California Penal Code. A third count is allegedly violating California Penal Code section 502: California’s Computer Crime Law (CCL). A fourth count is that Apple allegedly violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) by accessing people’s devices without authorization. Follow this on OUR FORUM.

It’s time to step up your boom, Agents! Crackdown 3 is now available with Xbox Game Pass on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC. In the latest entry in the Crackdown franchise, longtime fans will feel right at home in the quest to take back New Providence from the cruel and corrupt TerraNova Corporation. Crackdown 3 is all about over-the-top fun, tons of explosions, and punching the baddies right in the face. You’ll need to deploy everything in your arsenal, whether it’s collecting those iconic green agility orbs to run faster and jump higher, knocking some heads together to increase strength, or causing an endless amount of mayhem and destruction against your enemies with unique and bombastic weapons at your disposal to build your firearm skill. Did we mention Oblivion? Just a fun little gadget that shoots a black hole at enemies. No big deal. Crackdown has always been about freedom and this holds especially true in Crackdown 3. Right from the start, you choose how you want to free the city. There are 21 playable Agents to select from – including the man, the myth the legend, the one, and only Terry Crews as Commander Isaiah Jaxon. If you feel lucky, you can take on final boss Elizabeth Niemand right from the start or soften up her defenses by eliminating her lieutenants. That sense of freedom applies to choose your Agent as well. Each Agent has specific attributes that boost skills faster. Want to quickly unlock all of the Agency Vehicle forms? Pick an Agent who specializes in Driving and sideswipe your foes off the road. And with Agent saves separate from world saves, you can switch out your Agent based on the challenge at hand. Agents can take on TerraNova alone or jump in with a friend in two-player co-op via Xbox Live for double the trouble! There is more posted on OUR FORUM.

Microsoft is said to be working on a lightweight version of the desktop operating system reported called ‘Lite’ and it is intended to be optimized for 2-in-1s, laptops, and tablets. According to Brad Sams, the ‘Lite’ operating system is squarely aimed at the likes of affordable 2-in-1s that use the lightweight Chrome OS from Google. Windows Lite may or may not be promoted under the Windows brand, according to the report. The name Lite might be a placeholder for internal development and the company could opt for an entirely different name when it brings the OS to the market. The “truly lightweight” OS will power the affordable and new form factor devices from Microsoft’s partners. The new report claims that Microsoft is working on Lite for two types of devices – Centaurus and Pegasus. As the last report revealed, Centaurus devices are dual-screen devices. Pegasus, on the other hand, refers to a new lineup of laptops with different configurations or features running the Lite OS. Unlike Windows 10, Microsoft’s Lite operating system will be reportedly simplified and targeted at a simpler use-case to compete with Chrome OS in the education sector and other markets. Lite will be the best choice for on-the-go needs and Windows 10 will always remain the best choice multi-tasking and as well as productivity. Lite isn’t supposed to replace any existing version of Windows and it’s not something that the users would run on the desktop. Lite, which is said to be a truly lightweight platform, will also have instant-on functionality and it should be able to run on any CPU. Get caught up on OUR FORUM.

Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer and President Brad Smith met with the Catholic Pontiff today to discuss how AI can be used ethically and what can be done to help bridge the digital divide between rich and poor nations. The talks at the Pope’s residence lasted 30 minutes and concluded with an announcement that its Academy for Life would jointly sponsor a prize with Microsoft for the best doctoral dissertation in 2019 on the theme of “artificial intelligence at the service of human life”. Smith separately told the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano that “strong ethical and new, evolved laws” were needed so that technological advances such as artificial intelligence do not fall into the wrong hands. Smith had been advocating for some time for new legislation to govern artificial intelligence software for recognizing faces, as a way to mitigate the risks of biased outcomes, intrusions into privacy and democratic freedoms. Microsoft’s preoccupation with the nascent field of AI safety, on the other hand, appears somewhat at odds with its enthusiasm to give its best tools, including AI, to the US Military, even if it is with the explicit purpose of “increasing lethality”. Microsoft has recently won a $480 million bid from the Department of Defense for an augmented reality helmet for US infantry which will likely heavily rely on neural processing and AI to recognize and presumably target individuals for lethal force. The Army said the headsets are intended to “increase lethality by enhancing the ability to detect, decide and engage before the enemy.” Follow along on OUR FORUM.

 

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