When you think about operating system updates you probably do not think about the security team. Sure, there are security patches and such, but those are on the operations team and not really pushed out by the security team. Well, that is when they are done properly by the OS vendor.
Remote management and access tools are great things for IT staff to use, but if they are not set up correctly or they have bugs hidden in the code they can quickly become a nightmare. Intel’s AMT (Active Management Technology) suite of tools recently was found to have a rather nasty little surprise hidden in them. It seems that a flaw in the way their SOL (Serial on LAN) tool runs combined with the way Windows deals with AMT allowed attackers to use AMT to deploy malware and to exfiltrate data from a compromised system.
Just when you thought it could not get more annoying, Microsoft has turned up the Windows 10 update notifications. The little nudges for Windows 8.x users pop up in the corner (systray) and also when you boot up your PC or do something as crazy as open Internet Explorer. This last one has many looking to alternate browsers just so they do not get bothered with the pop-up.
Over the course of its development there has been a lot to like about Windows 10. There seems to be a good blend of the traditional Windows desktop with some of the touch-centric features that Microsoft tried to force in Windows 8. You are also getting more than a few performance improvements including DX12. If you have not heard about all of the goodness in DX12 you are in for quite a pleasant surprise. However, despite all of the good there is in Windows 10 there seems to be a group at Microsoft that have still not learned lessons from the past.
When Microsoft and Sony announced the move to x86-64 based gaming consoles some (pronounce that many) in the gaming community were more than a little annoyed that they would not be able to play their older games. Both companies hoped that the move would drive gaming innovation and also get people to buy new games as well as leave the option for developers to create new versions of older games with improved graphics. We saw both of these start to happen during the first few months of the Xbox One and PS4’s life. Now that things are settling down we are finally getting to a time when companies are going to circle back around to those older games.
Over the weekend there was a lot of talk about how Windows in particular is vulnerable to a flaw that is linked to SMB. This flaw could allow someone to grab user information by forcing a redirect to a malicious server using the SMB protocol. The way it works is pretty simple; if you give someone a URL that begins with the work “file” then Windows (and some other systems) will think that you want to use SMB to connect to a file share. If the server that the link (URL) points to uses even basic authentication then you can try and tempt a user to put in their own credentials and grab them during the exchange.
So, remember that comment Microsoft made about upgrading non-genuine version of Windows 7 and 8.x to Windows 10? Well we finally have some more information on that. Sadly the new information causes more confusion than it clears up. According to Microsoft the non-genuine upgrades will “not be supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner”. This is interesting as we do not know of any pirate that has ever gone to Microsoft or a trusted partner for help with their illegal copy of Windows.
Microsoft is making a bold move with Windows 10 and we are not just talking about a redesign of the OS here. It seems that they would really like people to move from Windows 7 and 8.x to Windows 10. To entice you they are offering free upgrades to anyone with a qualifying system. What makes things even more interesting is that there is talk that the upgrade will even be available to non-genuine versions of Windows. This last bit is very much out of pattern for Microsoft, but we have a pretty good idea of why they are doing it.
Despite a valiant attempt to label P2P transfers and BitTorrent as the devil Microsoft and others are looking to move this direction for updates and other services. In the latest build of Windows 10 the new P2P updating mechanism was found hiding out as an option in the code. Fortunately Microsoft does give you a few options when it comes to this new feature.
Yesterday Microsoft may have confirmed what many have speculated, DirectX 12 will have a multi-GPU component that will allow AMD and nVidia to play nicely together. What this means exactly no one is sure, but we do know that some form of code is there to allow this. This is not the first time that someone has tried to setup a cross vendor system for GPUs. Not all that long ago Lucid Technologies tried it with dubious benefits.