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Facebook’s Messenger Kids app is built around a simple premise: children shouldn’t be able to talk to users who haven’t been approved by their parents. But a design flaw allowed users to sidestep that protection through the group chat system, allowing children to enter group chats with unapproved strangers. For the past week, Facebook has been quietly closing down those group chats and alerting users, but has not made any public statements disclosing the issue. The alert, which was obtained by The Verge. Facebook confirmed to The Verge that the message was authentic, and said the alert had been sent to thousands of users in recent days. “We recently notified some parents of Messenger Kids account users about a technical error that we detected affecting a small number of group chats,” a Facebook representative said. “We turned off the affected chats and provided parents with additional resources on Messenger Kids and online safety.” The bug arose from the way Messenger Kids’ unique permissions were applied in group chats. In a standard one-on-one chat, children can only initiate conversations with users who have been approved by the child’s parents. But those permissions became more complex when applied to a group chat because of the multiple users involved. Whoever launched the group could invite any user who was authorized to chat with them, even if that user wasn’t authorized to chat with the other children in the group. As a result, thousands of children were left in chats with unauthorized users, a violation of the core promise of Messenger Kids. Learn more by visiting OUR FORUM.

Microsoft says that several changes designed to make Office 365 licensing technology more reliable for subscription-based Office clients will be rolled out during August. Office 365 is part of the Microsoft 365 software offer which also bundles Windows 10 and EMS (short for Enterprise Mobility + Security), a bundle that provides customers with an easy way of enjoying a simple to manage and secure online productivity platform in Microsoft's vision. "In August, we’ll start slowly rolling out these changes to commercial customers on Monthly Channel. The roll-out will continue to Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) in September, and Semi-Annual Channel in January 2020," says Microsoft. While the Office activation and licensing changes will affect both users and admins who manage Office 365 devices, the activation process will not be changed in its entirety. More to the point, Office users will still have to activate their installation by sign-in in on their devices, with the software to automatically detect their credentials and activate itself if single sign-on is enabled. Also, Office users can still deploy and activate Office 365 apps on up to five desktop devices, five smartphones, and five tablets as part of their Office 365 subscription. The changes Microsoft will start rolling out during August are designed to remove prompts when deactivating Office installations, as well as automatically sign out users when the sign-in limit is reached. This new groups expiration policy will allow all Office 365 admins to improve their groups' lifecycle management once it reaches public preview by making sure that active groups are not haphazardly removed and data is irremediably lost. Learn more by visiting OUR FORUM.

An Israeli cybersecurity company has developed spyware that can scrape data from the servers of Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft products, according to The Financial Times. The report says NSO Group’s proprietary smartphone malware, Pegasus, harvests not only data stored on a device but also any information stored in the cloud, including a user’s location data, archived messages, and photos. NSO Group, who previously installed the malware in Facebook’s WhatsApp, denied that it markets software capable of capturing data in the cloud. It’s unclear if it has developed the tools internally. “The Financial Times got it wrong. NSO’s products do not provide the type of collection capabilities and access to cloud applications, services, or infrastructure suggested in this article,” the company told CNBC in a statement. “Increasingly sophisticated terrorists and criminals are taking advantage of encrypted technologies to plan and conceal their crimes, leaving intelligence and law enforcement agencies in the dark and putting public safety and national security at risk. NSO’s lawful interception products are designed to confront this challenge.” NSO Group says it has a screening process for clients and only sells to responsible governments for facilitating terrorism or criminal investigations. In May, WhatsApp said a flaw in the messenger service could allow NSO Group software to be downloaded to phones through a simple phone call and to monitor calls made through the service. The Facebook-owned application put a patch in place to fix the problem. Follow this thread on OUR FORUM.

A contractor for the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has been hacked and secret projects that were being developed for the intelligence agency were leaked to Russian Media. These projects detail Russia's attempt to de-anonymize users on the Tor network, collect data from social networks, and how to isolate the Russian portion of the Internet from the rest of the world. On July 13th, 2019, a contractor for the Russia FSB named "Sytech" was claimed to be hacked by a hacking group named 0v1ru$. As part of this hack, the group defaced the contactor's site to show an image of "Yoba-face", which they posted an image of on their Twitter feed. In addition, BBC Russia reports that the hackers stole 7.5TB of data from the contractor's network. This data includes information about numerous non-public projects that were being developed by Sytech on behalf of the Russian government and its intelligence agency. To prove they gained access to Sytech's servers, 0v1ru$ posted images of internal pages of Sytech's web site and of server drives and users in their Windows domain controller. This stolen data was then passed on to another hacking group named DigitalRevolution, who shared the data with Russian media.  Digital Revolution claimed to have hacked the Russian research institute "Kvant" in 2018. The stolen data seen by BBC Russia outlines a variety of projects being developed by Sytech. For more turn your attention to OUR FORUM.

A long-standing Twitter issue allows bad actors to manipulate tweets so that they appear to contain content from one site, but actually, link to a completely different one. This enables creating tweets that look like legitimate articles from well-respected sites but actually link to pages serving phishing, malware, or scams. Whenever you share a new link in a tweet, Twitter will send a bot to the linked web page and check for special meta tags in the HTML source. If these tags exist, Twitter will use the information on the page to create a rich media block called Twitter Cards that is filled with additional text, images, or video. Bad actors, though, can manipulate how Twitter accesses a linked-to page so that the Twitter cards are created from metadata found on another site. Terence Eden discovered that a problem occurs when a page linked in tweet monitors for the Twitter Card Generator's user agent of "Twitterbot/1.0." If the user agent is detected, it will redirect the bot to a different page; otherwise, it will display the normal content. When the Twitter Card Generator is redirected, it will use the metadata on the page it landed on to create the Twitter Card. While the card will look like it came from the redirected site, it will still link to the URL originally posted in the Tweet. As you can see, it is easy to see how this could help malicious actors. Eden found this after noticing a promoted tweet from an account that currently has a low follower count and an even smaller list of followers. The tweet was a cryptocurrency scam about Singapore and while the card showed a story from CNBC, clicking on it led to a completely different website. Looking at the source code of the app, the redirect was revealed. Checking the link with Twitter's Card Validator also shows that the card is redirected to CNBC's website. Learn more by visiting OUR FORUM.

Microsoft officials said last month that they were putting AI algorithms in place that would automatically update those on older variants of Windows 10 to 1903, the May 2019 Update via Windows Update. Today, July 16, is the day when this auto-updating process is kicking off, according to the Windows Update Twitter account.  As of today, Microsoft is starting to initiate the Windows 10 May 2019 Update (1903) for those with devices "that are at or nearing the end of service and have not yet updated their device," Microsoft's documentation says. Microsoft officials said back in May that the company planned to do this starting in June 2019. "Based on a large number of devices running the April 2018 Update, that will reach the end of 18 months of service on November 12, 2019, we are starting the update process now for Home and Pro editions to help ensure adequate time for a smooth update process."  The reason many devices are still on the April 2018 Update is at least in part because the Windows 10 18H2 Update (1809) was a buggy mess.  Microsoft's July 16 note says this process will be staggered, with officials prioritizing those devices "likely to have a good update experience and quickly put safeguards on other devices while we address known issues." Windows 10 Home and Pro users who get the 1903 update pushed to them will still have the ability to pause the update for up to 35 days, Microsoft notes. As my ZDNet colleague Ed Bott noted today, business users who use the Semi-Annual/Semi-Annual Targeted options for updating, Microsoft will begin pushing to some business customers on older versions of Windows 10 the 1903 release next week, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. As is the case with Windows Update, the business updating process will be staggered, with certain devices blocked if Microsoft determines the update experience may go bad. Learn more by visiting OUR FORUM.

 

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