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Safer Internet Day: The how-to

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This Safer Internet Day, Microsoft is raising awareness and offering help to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.

In the cloud-first, mobile-first era, students, parents, and teachers are empowered to accomplish more by tapping into the power of the Internet, social networks, data analytics and mobile devices. However, online safety concerns still remain for both parents as well as educators and caregivers due to the mix of old and new threats such as virtual bullying, plagiarism, cybercrime, gambling and even kidnapping, resulting in the need for risk awareness and smart online habits to be re-emphasized.

Toward that end, Microsoft highlighted a few new resources via a blogpost by Jacqueline Beauchere – Microsoft Chief Online Safety Officer. These resources have been created for parents, caregivers and educators on some important topics in online safety, including teaching young people about misinformation and hate speech online, educating them about the dangers of “sexting,” and helping them respond to incidents of cyber harassment.

To complement our existing factsheet on teen sexting written for parents, last year the Youth Advisory Board of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation created a sexting factsheet for us geared toward youths. At Microsoft, we see sexting as a significant and unsavoury gateway through which young people can be exposed to a range of negative online content and experiences. So, we’re raising awareness, partnering with others on research and other projects, and generally encouraging good digital behaviour.

Microsoft announced the removal of sexual imagery of victims of “revenge porn” from OneDrive as well as Xbox Live. We have also denied access via Bing to those images, when those victims make known to us the existence of such content on our services. December saw the highest number of removal requests made to us to-date, with the vast majority of those cases being accepted and addressed. Accordingly, for the foreseeable future we’ll continue to make available our dedicated Web reporting form for non-consensual pornography.

Microsoft has received some 180,000 customer calls concerning tech-support fraud since May 2014. We have also taken a first major step in fighting back by filing a federal lawsuit against two companies. In addition, international law enforcement agencies are making this a priority for action. This is another area ripe for consumer education and awareness, so we teamed with AARP to help spread the word.  (See, http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2015/scams-and-frauds-to-avoid.html) That message needs to continue to circulate in 2016.

The start of a new year brings a fresh opportunity to become more online and technology savvy by amongst others taking stock of one’s online habits and practices. Here’s to a happy, healthy and safe 2016, both online and off.

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to online safety and encouraging good digital citizenship, visit our website:  www.microsoft.com/saferonline.

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Samsung unfolds the future

At the #Unpacked launch, Samsung delivered the world’s first foldable phone from a major brand. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK tried it out.

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Everything that could be known about the new Samsung Galaxy S10 range, launched on Wednesday in San Francisco, seems to have been known before the event.

Most predictions were spot-on, including those in Gadget (see our preview here), thanks to a series of leaks so large, they competed with the hole an iceberg made in the Titanic.

The big surprise was that there was a big surprise. While it was widely expected that Samsung would announce a foldable phone, few predicted what would emerge from that announcement. About the only thing that was guessed right was the name: Galaxy Fold.

The real surprise was the versatility of the foldable phone, and the fact that units were available at the launch. During the Johannesburg event, at which the San Francisco launch was streamed live, small groups of media took turns to enter a private Fold viewing area where photos were banned, personal phones had to be handed in, and the Fold could be tried out under close supervision.

The first impression is of a compact smartphone with a relatively small screen on the front – it measures 4.6-inches – and a second layer of phone at the back. With a click of a button, the phone folds out to reveal a 7.3-inch inside screen – the equivalent of a mini tablet.

The fold itself is based on a sophisticated hinge design that probably took more engineering than the foldable display. The result is a large screen with no visible seam.

The device introduces the concept of “app continuity”, which means an app can be opened on the front and, in mid-use, if the handset is folded open, continue on the inside from where the user left off on the front. The difference is that the app will the have far more space for viewing or other activity.

Click here to read about the app experience on the inside of the Fold.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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