Home Blog

Korean hacker group ZINC using compromised open source software for spearfishing attacks

Microsoft reports that there has been an uptick in the activity of ZINC, a government-sponsored North Korean hacker group that was famously involved in the 2009 Sony hack.

Microsoft says its Threat Intelligence Center has detected a wide range of social engineering campaigns using weaponized legitimate open-source software over the last few months.

Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) observed activity targeting employees in organizations across multiple industries including media, defense and aerospace, and IT services in the US, UK, India, and Russia, likely with the aim of espionage, data theft, financial gain, and network destruction.

Beginning in June 2022, ZINC employed traditional social engineering tactics by initially connecting with individuals on LinkedIn to establish a level of trust with their targets. Upon successful connection, ZINC encouraged continued communication over WhatsApp, which acted as the means of delivery for their malicious payloads.

MSTIC observed ZINC weaponizing a wide range of open-source software including PuTTY, KiTTY, TightVNC, Sumatra PDF Reader, and muPDF/Subliminal Recording software installer for these attacks. ZINC was observed attempting to move laterally and exfiltrate collected information from victim networks.

ZINC has successfully compromised numerous organizations since June 2022 and due to the wide use of the platforms and software that ZINC utilizes in this campaign, ZINC could pose a significant threat to individuals and organizations across multiple sectors and regions.

Microsoft says their Defender for Endpoint provides comprehensive protection against tools and custom malware used by ZINC, including ZetaNile. As with any observed nation-state actor activity, Microsoft directly notifies customers that have been targeted or compromised, providing them with the information they need to secure their accounts.

Check out Microsoft’s blog post for hunting queries to help admins comprehensively search their environments for relevant indicators of compromise.

Microsoft confirms Exchange is under attack by two new Zero-day exploits

Exchange admins are scurrying again to patch their servers after Microsoft confirmed two new zero-day exploits which are already being used to breach networks in the wild.

“The first vulnerability, identified as CVE-2022-41040, is a Server-Side Request Forgery (SSRF) vulnerability, while the second, identified as CVE-2022-41082, allows remote code execution (RCE) when PowerShell is accessible to the attacker,” Microsoft said.

“At this time, Microsoft is aware of limited targeted attacks using the two vulnerabilities to get into users’ systems.”

The flaws are present in Exchange Server 2013, 2016, and 2019 but fortunately require an authenticated user to exploit.

With an authenticated account however, CVE-2022-41040 allows successful entry which then enables hackers to trigger the CVE-2022-41082 remote code exploit.

Fortunately, users of Exchange Online are already protected while Microsoft recommends mitigations released by Vietnamese cybersecurity outfit GTSC, who was the first to post about the exploits, for on-prem users.

“On premises Microsoft Exchange customers should review and apply the following URL Rewrite Instructions and block exposed Remote PowerShell ports,” Microsoft added.

“The current mitigation is to add a blocking rule in “IIS Manager -> Default Web Site -> Autodiscover -> URL Rewrite -> Actions” to block the known attack patterns.”

Find the latest guidance at Microsoft here.

Truecaller launches AI-powered Assistant for Android and iOS smartphones

TrueCaller Assistant app

TrueCaller Assistant app

Truecaller yesterday announced Truecaller Assistant, an AI-powered call screening service that can take calls, ask for the purpose of the call, and give information to users to decide whether to pick up a call.

Here’s how Truecaller Assistant works:

  • When you get a call on your phone and you decide to decline or don’t answer the call, it’ll be forwarded to your digital Assistant.
  • TrueCaller Assistant can answer and screen it for you using voice-to-text technology.
  • When the caller responds to your Assistant, you’ll be able to see who’s calling and why on the screen.
  • The caller will hear the assistant asking ‘hi, the person you’re calling is using a screening service, may I ask who it is?’ and the reason for the call.
  • From here you can open up the chat window if you need more information. Then you can decide whether to accept or reject the call.

Truecaller Assistant is available on a 14-day free trial, after which it can be availed as part of Truecaller Premium. The service will be available initially in the US and in English, and it will be expanded to other markets and languages soon.

“We created Assistant because spam and scams have increased so much that Americans are
overcorrecting and simply not answering their phones at all,” said Raphael Mimoun, Cloud
Telephony Product Director at Truecaller.

Microsoft releases Windows 11 Preview Build 25211 with new Widgets settings, improved Snipping Tool and more

Microsoft Windows 11 widget settings

Microsoft Windows 11 widget settings

Microsoft today announced the release of Windows 11 Preview Build 25211 for Dev Channel Insiders. This new build comes with new Widgets settings, improved Snipping Tool, new Outlook for Windows and more. Find the details below.

What’s new in Windows 11 Preview Build 25211:

Widgets settings

In this update, we have separated the widget picker and Widgets settings to make it easier for you to find and interact with each view. Now, the widget picker is opened by the “+” button and Widgets settings is opened by the “Me” button. We re-used the space the picker used to take in Widget settings to cover the highly requested taskbar settings based on Insider feedback to give you control over how the Widgets entry works on your taskbar.

The button that shows at the top right of the board to launch Widgets settings.
The button that shows at the top right of the board to launch Widgets settings.

When you open Widgets settings by clicking on the “Me” button shown above, you will see three taskbar behaviors that you can toggle on or off.

The Widgets settings page.
The Widgets settings page.

Please note the wording for the toggles in Widget settings is slightly different in this build over what’s shown in the above screenshot. In a future update, the text for the toggles in Widget settings will be updated to reflect what is in the (above) screenshot.

With the toggles in Widget settings, you can:

  • Control whether the Widgets board opens when you hover over the taskbar icon.
  • Control whether Widgets will show notification badging on the taskbar.
  • Control whether live Widget content on the taskbar shows more than weather.

[We are beginning to roll this out, so the experience isn’t available to all Insiders just yet as we plan to monitor feedback and see how it lands before pushing it out to everyone.]

FEEDBACK: Please file feedback in Feedback Hub (WIN + F) under Desktop Environment > Widgets.

Changes and Improvements

[Taskbar]

  • Based on your feedback, we’ve added a link to Task Manager when right-clicking on the taskbar. Let us know what you think!
Context menu when right-clicking on the taskbar shows link to Task Manager.
Context menu when right-clicking on the taskbar shows link to Task Manager.

[System Tray]

  • This build includes preliminary support to rearrange System Tray icons for Insiders who have the System Tray updates that began rolling out with Build 25197. Further improvements for this experience are coming soon. As a reminder, these System Tray updates are still rolling out and are not available to all Insiders just yet. If your PC does not have these changes, your System Tray experience will remain the same as before.

Microsoft recently rolled out the new Outlook for Windows for Office Insiders. The same experience will be made available for Windows Insiders in a similar toggle within the Windows Mail app.

Microsoft is also rolling out an updated Snipping Tool app that will automatically save the screenshots you take. The Snipping Tool version 11.2209.2.0 will store all your screenshots in the Screenshots folder inside Pictures. This feature is on by default, but you can change this behavior in app settings.

You can find the full list of bug fixes in the source link below.

Google announce new AI-based Search improvements

At their 2022 Search On event, Google announced new improvements to their Search products powered by AI advances.

The company says they aim to allow people to find exactly what they are looking for by combining images, sounds, text and speech, meaning users will be able to ask questions, with fewer words — or even none at all — and Google will  still understand exactly what they mean.

They highlighted three new features at Search On.

Making visual search work more naturally

Google is making visual search more natural with multisearch, a completely new way to search using images and text simultaneously, similar to how you might point at something and ask a friend a question about it. They introduced multisearch earlier this year as a beta in the U.S., and at Search On, announced they were expanding it to more than 70 languages in the coming months. Google is taking this capability even further with “multisearch near me,” enabling you to take a picture of an unfamiliar item, such as a dish or plant, then find it at a local place nearby, like a restaurant or gardening shop. They will start rolling “multisearch near me” out in English in the U.S. this fall.

Gif shows how you can use the Google app to search using images and text simultaneously by taking a picture and then adding text to your query.

Multisearch enables a completely new way to search using images and text simultaneously.

Translating the world around you

One of the most powerful aspects of visual understanding is its ability to break down language barriers.

Google is now able to blend translated text into the background image thanks to a machine learning technology called Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs). So if you point your camera at a magazine in another language, for example, you’ll now see translated text realistically overlaid onto the pictures underneath.

Gif shows how with the new Lens translation update, you can use your camera to translate text in another language realistically overlaid onto the pictures underneath.

With the new Lens translation update, you’ll now see translated text realistically overlaid onto the pictures underneath.

Exploring the world with immersive view

Just as live traffic in navigation made Google Maps dramatically more helpful, Google is making another significant advancement in mapping by bringing helpful insights — like weather and how busy a place is — to life with immersive view in Google Maps. With this new experience, you can get a feel for a place before you even step foot inside, so you can confidently decide when and where to go.

Say you’re interested in meeting a friend at a restaurant. You can zoom into the neighbourhood and restaurant to get a feel for what it might be like at the date and time you plan to meet up, visualizing things like the weather and learning how busy it might be. By fusing their advanced imagery of the world with their predictive models, they can give you a feel for what a place will be like tomorrow, next week, or even next month. Google is expanding the first iteration of this with aerial views of 250 landmarks right now, and immersive view will come to five major cities in the coming months, with more on the way.

Gif shows how immersive view allows you to determine what a place will be like when you visit, including how busy it will be and what it will look like inside.

Immersive view in Google Maps helps you get a feel for a place before you even visit.

These announcements, along with many others introduced at Search On, are just the start of how Google is transforming their products to help you go beyond the traditional search box.

As expected, Google kills Stadia cloud gaming service

Google Stadia Killed

Google Stadia Killed

Google today announced that Stadia cloud gaming platform will be killed early next year. This news is not so surprising for many of us who have been following the gaming industry closely for quite some time now.

Google Stadia had a vision of allowing gamers to instantly play video games on compatible screens they already own. But it hasn’t gained the traction with users as Google expected. So, Google will be winding down its Stadia streaming service.

Google will be refunding all Stadia hardware purchases made through the Google Store, and all game and add-on content purchases made through the Stadia store. Yes, all the purchases made related to Stadia will be refunded. Stadia users will have access to their games library and can play through January 18, 2023. Google will complete majority of refunds by mid-January, 2023.

Google will make use of the underlying technology platform that powers Stadia across other parts of Google like YouTube, Google Play, and our Augmented Reality (AR) efforts. Google also has plans to make it available to gaming industry partners to launch their own game streaming service.

We remain deeply committed to gaming, and we will continue to invest in new tools, technologies and platforms that power the success of developers, industry partners, cloud customers and creators.

Many of the Stadia team members will move to other parts of the company.

Key FAQs:

Q: Will I get a refund?  What is available for a refund? 

A:  We will be offering refunds for all Stadia hardware purchases (Stadia Controller, Founders Edition, Premiere Edition, and Play and Watch with Google TV packages) made through the Google Store and software transactions (games and add-on purchases) through the Stadia store. Stadia Pro subscriptions are not eligible for refund, however you will be able to continue playing your games in Pro without further charges until the final wind down date.

Q: Do I have to return my hardware to get a refund? 

A:  Most hardware purchases (Stadia Controller, Founders Edition, Premiere Edition, and Play and Watch with Google TV packages) made directly from Google will not need to be returned. More details on how to obtain a refund for your Stadia hardware purchases will be posted here in the coming weeks.

Q: Are you refunding my Stadia Pro subscription? 

A: We will not be refunding Stadia Pro subscriptions. Players who held an active Stadia Pro subscription as of September 29, 2022 will not be charged for access to their Pro library or other subscription entitlements during the shut-down period.

Q:  Why can I no longer purchase games?  Can I purchase in-game transactions?

A:  We have now closed the Stadia Store and disabled all commerce on the Stadia platform, including in-game transactions.

Google Maps gets several new features based on computer vision and predictive models

Google Maps features

Google Maps features

Thanks to the newest advancements in computer vision and predictive models, Google has announced several new features that are coming to Google Maps to make the experience immersive than ever before.

  1. When you want to visit a new neighborhood, you will need information on what’s worth exploring, what’s new, and what the local gems are. The new neighborhood vibe feature in Google Maps will allow you to select a neighborhood and see the most popular spots. Google combines AI with local knowledge from Google Maps users who add more than 20 million contributions to the map each day. Neighborhood vibe starts rolling out globally in the coming months on Android and iOS.
  2. Google is expanding photorealistic aerial view to over 250 of global landmarks including Tokyo Tower, Acropolis and more.

GIF of Google Maps aerial views for the Tokyo Tower, Acropolis, and Empire State Building

Using Immersive view, you can see where the parking lots and entrances are and if the weather will be chilly on particular day. You also have the ability to glide down to street level, peek inside and know how busy it’ll be. Immersive view rolls out in the coming months in Los Angeles, London, New York, San Francisco and Tokyo on Android and iOS.

3. Google is expanding the Live View feature to launch a new feature called search with Live View. With search with Live View, you can just lift your phone to search and instantly see the ATMs in an area. You can also spot different places — including coffee shops, grocery stores and transit stations. Search with Live View starts rolling out in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo in the coming months on Android and iOS.

GIF of search with Live View, which shows how you can lift your phone to find places like ATMs overlaid on top of the map

 

Microsoft to kill SwiftKey Keyboard app for iOS devices

Microsoft SwiftKey for iOS

Microsoft SwiftKey for iOS

Microsoft is ending support for Microsoft SwiftKey iOS app. Microsoft SwiftKey is an intelligent keyboard that learns your writing style allowing you to type faster with predictions. Microsoft has now confirmed that the app will be delisted from the App Store on October 5th, 2022. If you have SwiftKey installed on iOS already, the app will continue to work until it is manually uninstalled.

Microsoft did not reveal the reason behind this move. But it may be due to the fact that the restrictions on iOS platform may not have allowed Microsoft to deliver a consistent SwiftKey experience across platforms.

Microsoft also confirmed that it will continue support for SwiftKey Android as well as the underlying technology that powers the Windows touch keyboard.

Adobe announces Photoshop Elements 2023 and Premiere Elements 2023 with several new features

Adobe Photoshop Elements

Adobe Photoshop Elements

Adobe today announced the launch of Photoshop Elements 2023 and Premiere Elements 2023. These updated apps come with several new features including the ability to add Moving Elements to photos, Peek-through Overlays, improved performance on M1 Macs and more. Also, Elements 2023 now offers a connected experience with new web and mobile companion apps (English-only beta) that ease on-the-go photo and video access, viewing, and sharing.

Find the full list of new improvements in Photoshop Elements 2023 and Premiere Elements 2023 below.

  • AI advancements for photos and videos let you add Moving Elements to photos, so you can bring a touch of movie magic to waterfalls, clouds and backgrounds in still images, then save in social-ready formats including MP4 (videos) and GIFs (animated photos); Artistic Effects inspired by popular art styles let you transform entire video clips with one click.
  • Take photos to the next level with updated creative content including new backgrounds, patterns, and skies.
  • Use new collage and slideshow templates to showcase your photos in fun ways.
  • Create with Peek-through Overlays to create the illusion of depth in photos.
  • Choose the perfect soundtrack for everything from home movies to class projects with 100 new audio tracks in Premiere Elements.
  • Enjoy enhanced performance and stability, with up to 35% faster installation, 50% faster launch times, a 48% reduction in app size, and up to 70% faster launch times on Apple M1-powered Mac computers.
  • Enjoy on-the-go access to your photos and videos by using the new mobile companion app (English-only beta) to upload to the cloud, streamlining your creation and editing of photos and videos on the desktop.
  • Do more from any browser by using the new web companion app (English-only beta) to share and view edited photos and videos, and creating photo collages and multimedia slideshows.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2023 and Premiere Elements 2023 are now available for $99.99 USD each, or together for $149.99 USD.

Microsoft introduces improved contacts management experience on Outlook Web App

Microsoft Contacts Management experience

Microsoft Contacts Management experience

The contacts in Outlook get stale over time and users find it challenging to organize them. Microsoft is now introducing a new contact management experience on Outlook Web App that will allow users to easily organize and manage their contacts. There are four new features:

  1. Self-updating contacts (for enterprise users only) to always keep contacts up to date. These contacts automatically stay up to date based on the organization directory. For example, if someone’s phone number or department designation changes, it will automatically be updated in your contact list.
  2. Contact categories to easily organize, find, and connect with contacts. This is a new way of managing contacts replacing the existing folders. Categories are just like tags; you can apply these tags to contacts to group contacts into desired categories. Your existing folders will be migrated to categories.
  3. New contact editor will allow you to create, update, and categorize contacts, and manage them from the email, calendar, and People hub.
  4. Upgraded People hub to view, manage, and collaborate with contacts. The People hub will allow you to do the following:
    1. View, manage, and organize your contacts
    2. Create and manage personal contact lists
    3. Access important contacts by favoriting them
    4. Quickly call, message, and email contacts/contact lists