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Microsoft rolls out Windows 8.1

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Microsoft has unveiled Windows 8.1, which is available as a free download via the Windows Store.

Consumers in South Africa and across the world with a Windows 8 device can download the free update via the online Windows Store. Windows 8.1 will also be available on new devices and as boxed software at retail locations.

Speaking at the South African launch in Bryanston, Microsoft South Africa’s devices lead, Colin Erasmus, said Windows 8.1 evolves the Windows vision for highly personalised computing while showcasing Microsoft’s continued commitment to rapid and responsive development.

‚”This marks a wave of new, innovative devices coming for consumers and businesses ‚Äî from the convenience and mobility of tablets and 2-in-1s to the productive experience expected from laptops, all-in-ones and specialised industry devices,” said Erasmus. “”Many of these new devices are touch-enabled and will deliver advancements in processing power, battery life and design, across a range of price points,‚””

Windows 8.1 offers a increased customisation refinements and functional improvements. It provided the following overview:

· Highly personal. An improved and more customisable Start screen offers variable tile sizes, more background designs and colours so each Windows device looks unique and personal.

· More familiar and easy to navigate. Windows 8.1 brings back the Start button as a familiar point of navigation. An updated apps view lets users see all their apps at once for easy access and new clicks and cues, as well as a Help + Tips app that gets them up to speed quickly.

¬∑ Enhanced Search. The new Bing Smart Search provides the easiest way to find what’s needed on the device or on the Web in one easy consolidated view that’s built for touch. Simply swipe or type from the Start screen and Smart Search will find it whether it’s a document on a PC, a photo album on SkyDrive, a favorite app or a website.

· Wide range of apps and services from the Start. Windows 8.1 is the most complete out-of-the-box experience. It offers a range of apps and services from the Start screen, allowing customers to quickly and easily do the things they love on Windows. Windows 8.1 also comes with the new Internet Explorer 11, which is fast, fluid and perfect for touch. Windows 8.1 also provides native support for 3-D printing, meaning it will have plug-and-play support for 3-D printers, enable apps to seamlessly print 3-D jobs and understand 3-D file formats.

· Multitasking and productivity. Windows 8.1 includes the display and use of up to four apps side by side, flexible windows sizing for each app on the screen, the ability for one app to launch another app, and improved multi-monitor support so users can view the desktop or apps from the Windows Store on any or all monitors.

¬∑ Deep cloud integration with SkyDrive. Windows 8.1 makes it easier than ever to work from anywhere and know that files are always accessible – across devices and locations. With SkyDrive, users can create, edit, save and share files anywhere, anytime, on whatever device they’re using.

· A redesigned Windows Store. The new design of the Windows Store improves how great apps are showcased and makes it easier for customers to get the apps they want. Fresh layouts and categories, such as New & Rising, make it easier to stay up to date on the hottest new entries to explore. And with Windows 8.1, apps are updated automatically by default, so users always have the newest and best version of any app, such as Fresh Paint, which now includes watercolour, a new graphite pencil set and a new clean, modern user interface for the latest painting or drawing creations. New and updated apps are also continually being delivered to the Store.

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Scammers cleaning up with gullible computer users

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Kaspersky experts have detected a two-fold rise in the number of users being attacked with fake system cleaners – fraudulent programmes designed to trick users into paying for alleged serious computer issues to be fixed. The number of users hit reached 1,456,219 in the first half of 2019, compared to just 747,322 for the same period in 2018. During this time, some of the attacks have become more sophisticated and dangerous.

A slow-working or poorly performing computer is a common complaint among PC users, and there are many legitimate tools available to solve such issues. However, alongside genuine system cleaners, there are fake ones developed by fraudsters that are designed to trick users into believing their computer is in critical danger, for example through memory overload, and needs immediate cleaning. The attackers then offer to provide such a service in return for payment. Kaspersky defines and detects such programmes as ‘hoax system cleaners’.

Upon receiving user permission and payment, the fraudsters install the hoax programmes that claim to clean the PC, but which often either do nothing or install adware – an annoying, but not critical, storm of unsolicited advertising – on the computer. Increasingly, however, the cybercriminals are using the installation of hoax cleaners to download or disguise malware such as Trojans or ransomware.

The countries most affected by attacks with hoax cleaners in the first half of 2019 show how geographically widespread the threat is; leading the list is Japan with 12% of affectedusers, followed by Germany (10%), Belarus (10%), Italy (10%) and Brazil (9%).

“We’ve been watching how the phenomenon of hoax cleaners has been growing for the last couple of years, and it is a curious threat. On the one hand, many samples that we have seen are spreading more widely and becoming more dangerous, evolving from a simple ‘fraudulent’ scheme into fully functioning and dangerous malware. On the other hand, they are so widespread and seemingly innocent, that it is much easier for them to trick users into paying for a service, rather than frightening them with screen blockers and other unpleasant malware. However, these two ways end up with the same results with users losing their money,” says Artemiy Ovchinnikov, security researcher at Kaspersky.

Kaspersky detects hoax system cleaners as:

Hoax.Win32.PCFixer.*

Hoax.Win32.PCRepair.*

Hoax.Win32.DeceptPCClean.*

Hoax.Win32.Optimizer.*

Hoax.MSIL.Optimizer.*

To avoid falling victim to hoax threats, Kaspersky researchers advise users to:

  • Always check that the PC services that you are about to adopt are legitimate and easy to understand. If it sounds confusing, use a search engine to find out more about the service as there may be a more detailed explanation available
  • Use a reliable security solution for comprehensive protection with a clean-up function for a wide range of threats and PC cleansing, such as Kaspersky Security Cloud.
  • If you are purposely looking for a PC cleaner, use reliable, IT-targeted sources of information for recommendations, with a long-built reputation and software reviews.

Read the full report on Kaspersky Daily.

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Trend Micro unveils security suite for Azure in Africa

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Cybersecurity leader Trend Micro Incorporated has announced highly optimised security solutions for Microsoft Azure workloads for customers in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Trend Micro Deep Security suite takes into consideration that a customer needs to approach cloud security differently than one would traditional security. As a result, it is fully optimised for Microsoft Azure. The suite ensures that a customer can tap into a solution that provides flexible, scalable protection of operating systems, applications, and data without slowing you down.

“Microsoft is an important partner to Trend Micro and as a result we have built a series of technologies that support their position in the cloud,” says Indi Siriniwasa, vice president at Trend Micro Sub-Saharan Africa. “Our security solutions are uniquely optimised for Microsoft Azure and complement Microsoft Azure Security Centre so customers across the world continue to turn to Trend Micro to help better secure their Azure real estate. With Microsoft Azure now available from new cloud regions in South Africa, customers can rest assured that we support the use of Microsoft to streamline provisioning of security for Windows virtual machines and SharePoint workloads. 

“This will help customers to ensure that their security follows them from their physical environment to the cloud and back again, customers can automate security with Microsoft PowerShell scripting to streamline provisioning of security for Windows virtual machines and SharePoint workloads plus many other orchestration tools for Azure, including Chef, Puppet, and RightScale, we can also help clients to better automate security control deployments.”

With Deep Security for Azure, businesses can detect and protect against intrusions as well as protect their business against serious vulnerabilities with intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS). The solution will also help uncover suspicious changes to a system and immediately highlight and alert the business to these activities – without security admins having to manually sort through logs.

It also has the ability to keep malware off of workloads by using predictive machine learning mechanisms to detect unknown threats and prevalent attacks, so that a user can identify and then remove malware and blacklist domains known to be command-and-control (C&C) servers. Customers can also stop applications attached with IPS rules that block XSS or SQL attacks and other serious vulnerabilities until systems can be patched, as well as increase application visibility and control.

A particularly relevant feature within the South African context is that Deep Security is able to speed up a client’s route to PCI DSS compliance. The Deep Security solution allows a client to meet multiple PCI requirements with a single product, including intrusion detection and prevention, file integrity monitoring, and log inspection.

“Trend Micro’s integration with Microsoft Azure reduces the dependence on multiple point security tools, helping you to identify and address security and configuration issues quickly,” says Adwait Joshi, director, Azure Product Marketing at Microsoft Corp.

Trend Micro provided the following information:

Trend Micro’s Deep Security currently secures more servers globally than any other solution and specialises in protection for cloud and virtualised workload. It acts as part of the Trend Micro Hybrid Cloud Security solution, powered by XGen and provides comprehensive, flexible security for Azure workloads in a single product, so you can build new applications or move existing resources to the cloud with confidence.

Deep Security protects workloads by:

  • Defending against network threats with intrusion detection and prevention (IDS/IPS)
  • Immediately protecting against vulnerabilities like Shellshock and Heartbleed
  • Keeping malware off Windows and Linux workloads
  • Alerting when unplanned or suspicious changes are made to systems
  • Stopping SQL injection and XSS attacks on applications
  • Gaining visibility and control of elastic workloads with application control that fits DevOps

Local Trend Micro customers can also turn to the company’s Trend Micro Cloud App Security which is directly integrated into Office 365 via APIs. This includes advanced email protection, as well as compliance on third-party cloud file sharing services such as: Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business.

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