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Microsoft president and chief legal counsel Brad Smith has taken his turn at admitting Microsoft's former stance on open source put it on the "wrong side of history". In 2001 former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer famously said, "Linux is cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." Shortly after that and for the same reason, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates described the open-source GPL (GNU General Public License) as "Pac-Man-like". Ballmer has since made peace with open source, and now Smith, who was one of Microsoft's top lawyers during its war on open source, has admitted he too was wrong about its approach to technology. "Microsoft was on the wrong side of history when open source exploded at the beginning of the century, and I can say that about me personally," he said in a talk about hot computing topics at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). "The good news is that, if life is long enough, you can learn … that you need to change." Of course today – with an eye on cloud developers and as the owner of a code-sharing site GitHub – Microsoft approaches open source completely differently, even shipping Windows 10 with a custom Linux kernel for developers who use the Windows Subsystem for Linux. "Today, Microsoft is the single largest contributor to open-source projects in the world when it comes to businesses," said Smith. "When we look at GitHub, we see it as the home for open-source development, and we see our responsibility as its steward to make it a secure, productive home for [developers]." Smith also said that in 2013 president Obama warned top execs from Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook that they too would soon face scrutiny over privacy. Obama made the prediction at a roundtable with tech executives who were pushing for surveillance reforms following Edward Snowden's NSA leak, reminding them they held more data about people than the government did. Smith said the "political watershed moment" arrived with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which affected tens of millions of Facebook users and resulted in huge fines for Facebook. Tune into OUR FORUM to learn more.   

Apple recently confirmed one of the longest-running vulnerabilities in iOS history, affecting millions of iPhone users. And now new information reveals it just got bigger. In April, Apple acknowledged that every iPhone released in the last eight years was vulnerable to remote attacks through the iOS Mail app. At the time, the company played down the severity of this saying it had seen ‘no evidence’ of exploits but now ZecOps, the security specialist which discovered the flaw, has contacted me with new information that not only is it being triggered in the wild but that the first potential triggers existed a decade ago and every iPhone ever made is vulnerable (Apple confirmed there are 900M active iPhone last year). 05/12 Update: Apple has responded to me saying it will be sticking to its original statement regarding this vulnerability (found here) and is crediting ZecOps for its discovery. As it stands, Apple is not commenting on ZecOps' additional discoveries of vulnerabilities and real-world triggers dating back to 2010. Apple will deliver a fix in iOS 13.5, but there is currently no commitment to patch previous versions of iOS to protect older iPhones. Needless to say, I will keep this post updated with further developments on both sides. As it stands, further developments appear inevitable. 05/13 Update: while Apple continues to play down this vulnerability, significant action is being taken elsewhere. For example, Germany's Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has issued a statement recommending the removal of the iOS Mail app. BSI President Arne Schönbohm states: “The BSI assesses these vulnerabilities as particularly critical. It enables the attackers to manipulate large parts of the mail communication on the affected devices. Furthermore, there is currently no patch available. This means that thousands of iPhones and iPads are at acute risk from private individuals, companies, and government agencies. We are in contact with Apple and have asked the company to find a solution for the security of their products as soon as possible.” iOS 13.5 cannot arrive soon enough. "Apple takes all reports of security threats seriously. We have thoroughly investigated the researcher’s report and, based on the information provided, have concluded these issues do not pose an immediate risk to our users. The researcher identified three issues in Mail, but alone they are insufficient to bypass iPhone and iPad security protections, and we have found no evidence they were used against customers. These potential issues will be addressed in a software update soon. We value our collaboration with security researchers to help keep our users safe and will be crediting the researcher for their assistance.” “We continued our research of the MailDemon vulnerability,” said ZecOps CEO Zuk Avraham. “We were able to prove that this vulnerability can be used for Remote Code Execution. Unfortunately, a patch is still not available.” For more visit OUR FORUM.

Slowly, slowly, Huawei is piecing together its alternatives to Google’s software and services, bedding down for a world where there can be no post-blacklist return to business as usual. And while the mood music from Shenzhen still suggests that the company would like nothing more than restoring Google on its new phones, the truth is much more complicated. The strategy in Shenzhen goes beyond phones, leveraging China’s huge investments in 5G and AI, looking at areas in which it can establish its brand beyond 5G network kit and consumer devices. At around the time of the Mate 30 launch last fall, Huawei also started talking up its new connected car platform—HiCar. And while this may have come across as an Android Auto (or Apple CarPlay) lookalike, compensating for the company’s loss of Google, that isn’t the plan. This is much more radical, a fundamentally different approach to the one taken by Google and Apple. Pitched at automakers as well as the drivers of their cars, this is API-level integration to car functions, linkages to cameras, fatigue and safety checks, even cloud-based services. All that atop the usual infotainment and navigation options. Now the rubber is about to hit the road on HiCar, quite literally, as Huawei looks to shepherd the tech onto countless cars from dozens of manufacturers. This is the year that HiCar becomes a reality and we will find out whether it is a viable option in itself, and how it battles Google (and Apple) apps in the auto space. If Huawei gets the strategy right, it will help fill some of the international smartphone-shaped gaps in its revenues, while millions of its users will stand to benefit. In the aftermath of the launch of the P40, its latest non-Google flagship, Huawei has been lauding the features of HiCar and its coming to market this year. The company has reportedly ensured that HiCar will reach its users en masse in 2020, shipping on as many as 120 different car models from 30 manufacturers. In the six months since the HiCar chatter began, we’ve seen Chinese automaker (and GM joint venture) Baojun become the first to launch a vehicle with the tech on board. The company says all future vehicles will get the update. The expectation is that many other manufacturers will follow this year—not just in China but overseas as well; according to Nikkei Asian Review and ChinaPEV, German giant Audi is among them. Audi has been approached for any comments on this. As I reported yesterday, May 8, Huawei is quietly using its balance sheet to fund investments in connected automotive technologies. Bringing together consumer OS expertise with advancements in silicon and cloud services, the Chinese giant has set itself the goal of becoming the “leading Chinese platform provider” in the space. Huawei’s newest business unit is Intelligent Automotive Solution (IAS), and it could become one of its most important. Automotive is at the very intersection of huge investments in AI, 5G, cloud, and IoT. That’s why Huawei’s competition in the space includes Apple, Google’s stablemate Waymo and Tesla. China is the world’s largest car market and will likely lead the world for next-gen autonomous vehicles as well. Huawei is well placed—right place, right time. There is more posted on OUR FORUM.

Despite increasingly vocal anti-China rhetoric by American politicians of late, the United States government as reported by Reuters is set to sign off on new rules which allow American technology companies to work with China's Huawei in coordinating on standards for global 5G internet networks. The move comes despite an all-out war against the Shenzhen firm by the United States government for nearly two years which has seen Washington attempt to bludgeon the company with a number of tactics, including domestic blacklistings and sale restrictions, coercing foreign governments against using it and tactics which have included legal charges at home and the pursuit of Meng Wanzhou in Canada. The timing of this move given the circumstances is extremely odd. However, the conceding that Huawei will have a role in the setting of global 5G standards is an indication that the White House is now aware of the realities that are at play. The United States has effectively lost the 5G war against Huawei. Failing to get it blacklisted throughout the world, Washington is now resigned to the fact that the company will now dominate the standards of the next generate internet, and therefore, it is now forced to ultimately work with it in doing so, than against it. The outcome marks a major strategic defeat for the United States on this issue. First of all, despite everything we are hearing from the U.S. right now, policy and rhetoric are different. As I have set out previously, many American politics are showcasing anti-China stances in the pursuit of electoral races and this does not always translate into practical policy outcomes. Trump sees opportunity in bashing China right now over the COVID-19 pandemic, however, what he says and suggests does not tell us everything he will do in practice and thus it is important to read deep between the lines during this given period. This brings us to Huawei. The Trump administration's campaign against the Chinese firm has been a failure on multiple levels. Starting in 2018, it sought to isolate Huawei globally by placing pressure on allied countries to shun the firm from their 5G networks branding it a security risk. One of the cited reasons for this was a fear from Washington that China could grow to dominate the global standards of the next generation of internet technology. Whilst countries more loyal to U.S. strategic goals, such as Australia, followed suit with this, by and large, the rest of the world did not, even close allies such as the United Kingdom. As a result, despite repeated aggressive actions from Washington, by the start of 2020 Huawei stood as the world's largest provider of 5G patents and commercial contracts, well on course for over 100 deals with roughly half of those being based in Europe. Details can be found on OUR FORUM.

Features are great but having a way to use them without typing cryptic commands is even better. Android is, always has been, and always will be jam-packed with software features. Even the most bare-bones software as seen on something like the Pixel phone will have features that you never knew you needed until you did need them. And it will also have features you didn't even know existed because they are hidden without any sort of user interface to actually use them. Thankfully, Android 11 brings two of these very useful features to the light with a proper — and easy — way to use them: screen recording and wireless ADB (Android Debug Bridge, a way to communicate with a computer). You've probably seen something on the internet about these "new" features, but what most people don't know or remember is that neither is new at all. That's a failure on Google's part; when something users or developers (or both) want is put into Android, not having a way to easily use them means maybe Google shouldn't have bothered in the first place, ya know? Enough of the old, let's look at the new. You can now record what happens on your screen, complete with touchpoint markers and audio, by simply tapping an icon in the quick settings bar. Previously, you needed to connect your phone to a computer and type out a command or find an app that could replicate the command on the phone itself. Neither is a bad thing, and it doesn't appear that either way will disappear. The biggest change from what I can tell is that now you can do it without the typing or a third-party app. Simply adding a third choice to how you can record your screen, especially one so easy to use, is what we love to see. Wireless ADB is yet another new feature that's not new. But if you think you might ever need to use it, thank whatever God(s) you believe in that Google finally made it easy to use. With Android 11, you toggle a virtual switch and enter in some network details. It will be even easier when Android 11 is final and QR code scanning is implemented. Previously, you needed to connect with a cable to authorize an encryption key, get the IP of your Android device after unplugging it, make sure ADB is in your computer's command PATH, then type the commands to enable a TCP port via ADB. Finally, you could connect your computer to your phone with a special ADB command that included the port you forwarded in the previous step. Granted, after you worked your way through it once, it wasn't difficult, but compare it to tapping a switch or scanning a QR code and you'll see why the people who wanted or needed wireless debugging are so happy. Follow this thread on OUR FORUM.

Every month, Microsoft releases new Windows 10 updates that are designed to fix security vulnerability, fix bugs and performance issues, and add new features. Unfortunately, due to coding bugs, the size of the Windows user base, and the varied hardware it is installed on, there are always bugs encountered after new updates are released. Some of these bugs, though, are critical as they could break features, drivers, Windows, or the device itself if you have incompatible software or the update itself is botched. For example, a recent Windows 10 update for November 2019 and May 2019 Update computers is causing dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) and data loss. Others reported a wide range of issues, including broken Bluetooth, internet connectivity issues, reduced performance, freezes and installation issues, and other problems. Even worse, in February 2020, Windows 10 KB4532693 was released to fix security issues with Edge and other core components, but several users encountered a file deletion bug caused by an incorrect user profile. Fortunately, Microsoft allows Windows 10 Home, Pro, and Enterprise customers to control when and how Windows 10 installs monthly and half-yearly updates. If a driver or update causes problems, you can delay updates, or you can uninstall it and block Windows from downloading it again. The only time we suggest that you install updates immediately is when Microsoft releases fixes on Patch Tuesday for know vulnerabilities that are being actively exploited or that require immediate attention. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps to control and manage Windows Updates to delay or block a particular update that you don't find suited for your device or until you know that the update is not causing problems. For those who want to completely pause new updates until you know they are not problematic, Windows 10 Home, Pro, and Enterprise customers can do so via the settings app. For Windows 10 Home users, the pause feature works for only 28 days and 7 days in the preview builds. On the other hand, Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users can delay the update for more than 28 days via the Settings app and as well as Group Policy.If a specific update is causing issues with your device, you can pause it with Microsoft's "Show or hide updates" troubleshooter. You can download and run the "Show or hide updates" troubleshooter from here. Once the app is downloaded, launch it and hide the update that you don't want to install again. Learn how to prevent Windows Update from running your day on OUR FORUM.