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 on: April 02, 2020, 09:41:53 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
Security researchers have discovered coronavirus-themed
malware created to destroy users' computers.

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic raging all over the globe, some malware authors have developed malware that destroys infected systems, either by wiping files or rewriting a computer's master boot record (MBR).

With help from the infosec community, ZDNet has identified at least five malware strains, some distributed in the wild, while others appear to have been created only as tests or jokes.

The common theme among all four samples is that they use a coronavirus-theme and they're geared towards destruction, rather than financial gain.


Of the four malware samples found by security researchers this past month, the most advanced were the two samples that rewrote MBR sectors.

Some advanced technical knowledge was needed to create these strains as tinkering with a master boot record is no easy feat and could easily result in systems that didn't boot at all.

The first of the MBR-rewriters was discovered by a security researcher that goes by the name of MalwareHunterTeam, and detailed in a report from SonicWall this week. Using the name of COVID-19.exe, this malware infects a computer and has two infection stages.

In the first phase, it just shows an annoying window that users can't close because the malware has also disabled the Windows Task Manager.

While users attempt to deal with this window, the malware is silently rewriting the computer's master boot record behind their back. It then restarts the PC, and the new MBR kicks in, blocking users into a pre-boot screen.

Users can eventually regain access to their computers, but they'll need special apps that can be used to recover and rebuild the MBR to a working state.

But there was a second coronavirus-themed malware strain that re-wrote the MBR. This one is a far more convoluted malware operation.

It posed as the "CoronaVirus ransomware" but it was only a facade. The malware's primary function was to steal passwords from an infected host and then mimic ransomware to trick the user and mask its real purpose.

However, it wasn't ransomware either. It only posed as one. Once the data-stealing operations ended, the malware entered into a phase where it rewrote the MBR, and blocked users into a pre-boot message, preventing access to their PCs. With users seeing ransom notes and then not being able to access their PCs, the last thing users would thing to do is to check if someone exfiltrated passwords from their apps.

According to analysis from SentinelOne security researcher Vitali Kremez and Bleeping Computer, the malware also contained code to wipe files on the user's systems, but this didn't appear to be active in the version they analyzed.

Furthermore, this one was also spotted twice, with a second version discovered by G DATA malware researcher Karsten Hahn, two weeks later. This time, the malware kept the MBR-rewriting capabilities but replaced the data wiping feature with a functional screen-locker.


But security researchers have spotted more than coronavirus-themed MBR-rewriters. They also spotted two data wipers.

Both were discovered by MalwareHunterTeam.

The first was spotted back in February. It used a Chinese file name, and most likely targeted Chinese users, although we don't have information if it was distributed in the wild or was just a test.

The second was spotted yesterday, and this one was found uploaded on the VirusTotal portal by someone located in Italy.

MalwareHunterTeam described both strains as "poor wipers" because of the inefficient, error-prone, and time-consuming methods they used to erase files on infected systems. However, they worked, which made them dangerous if ever spread in the wild.

It might seem weird that some malware authors create destructive malware like this, but it's not the first time that this happened. For every financially-motivated malware strain that security researchers discover, there's also one that was created as a joke, just for the giggles. Something similar happened during the WannaCry ransomware outbreak in 2017, when days after the original WannaCry ransomware encrypted computers all over the world, there were countless of clones doing the same thing for no apparent reason.


 on: March 31, 2020, 06:28:31 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
An individual's thoughts for back up solutions on National Back-Up Day

I solemnly swear that I am up to no good. Wait, no, that’s for something else… Here we go! The actual pledge is, “I solemnly swear to back up my important documents and precious memories on March 31.” That is the pledge for World Backup Day (, an organization whose goal is to make sure your personal data is safe. It is a noble mission, and B&H would like to do our part to spread the message and help provide some resources so you can start backing up.

What Would You Do If You Lost Everything?

It’s a chilling question, and hopefully something most of you haven’t had to deal with, but it is important to think about. If you lost your phone, or your laptop, or a hard drive, would you be able to get back all your family photos, important schoolwork, or once-in-a-lifetime videos? If you perform proper backups, then you should feel a lot better in your day-to-day life. A laptop that won’t boot up will be a headache, but it won’t cost you anything more than time and, potentially, money.

We support the initiative of World Backup Day, especially once you consider some of its stats. Reportedly, 30% of you have never backed up anything, that one in every ten computers is infected with a virus each month, and that 113 phones are lost or stolen every minute. Also, consider that 29% of disasters are caused by accident, so you might not have any control over whether you lose data. It’s more than just keeping your devices safe. That new Microsoft Surface Pro X or HP ZBook 17 G6 Mobile Workstation you just picked up maybe lightweight and super portable, but keep in mind that constant travel will make it more susceptible to drops and other hazards. Even if you only use your  Acer ConceptD 9 2-in-1 Laptop on your desk, it could still suffer from an incidental water spill. You really don’t want to lose your precious data from a random accident.

Follow the 3-2-1 Rule

Luckily, there is an easy-to-understand method for keeping everything properly backed up and safe. It’s called the “3-2-1 rule.” You should have three copies of your data with the backups on two different forms of media and with one of these kept off-site. You can have a master, which is the data you are working from or constantly reading from, a local backup to an external hard drive, and then a third backup kept in a different location or via a cloud service. See? It’s quite easy.

I run everything photo and video from a G-Technology G-SPEED Shuttle RAID Array connected to my iMac at home. Then I back up important items to a secondary drive and I have a third drive I update when I visit my parents and hand it off to them. My dad trades me his own copy of family photos and important documents, as well, so that he can follow the 3-2-1 rule. It is a good plan because it works. Just ask a friend if they are willing to work with you and then both of you can be protected.

The Tools of the Trade

Unless you are quite familiar with computers, you may not know where to start when it comes to backing up your devices. This is where B&H can help! We have a ton of hard drive options and educational pieces to help you find what works best for you, as well as very helpful staff you can contact via chat, phone (800.606.6969 / 212.444.6615), or by dropping into the SuperStore, here in New York. Here are the basics you should know.

First, everyone should start with a simple external hard drive. It’s the easiest to use and understand. Find a drive that is big enough for you and has the right connection. Personally, I’d spend a little more for speed, since backups usually end up being a lot of files and a lot of space, and any time saved here is a good thing. If you are just getting started, I’ve used the WD My Passport Wireless and have been very happy. Small and affordable, they should work for most people and can be found in multiple colors if you want even more organized backups.

For more portability, durability, and speed, I would recommend an SSD such as the SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD. SSDs are more reliable than spinning drives if you are on the move and are very fast. Another approach, if you aren’t in need of such a large backup, is to stick with a flash drive for your most precious data. The Kingston Data Traveler 100 G3 can even fit in nearly any pocket if you want to keep your dearest memories close to you. You can more easily mail these off-site to fulfill the final chain in a 3-2-1 backup system.

These are great for your personal laptop or home PC, where you have time to set it up and perform your backups and don’t have to rely on them for work. Just use Time Machine on a Mac or some backup software if you run Windows, and these drives should do the trick. If you want something more elaborate, or for workhorse devices, this is where you may want to investigate RAID or NAS storage. I like RAID because it can be configured in multiple ways so that you can gain speed, redundancy, or both. OWC makes the ThunderBay 4, as a good example of a RAID device, and it is very easy to set up and use. It’ll help protect data in the event of a drive failure and is quite fast. On the go? I use the LaCie Rugged RAID Pro in RAID 1 to offer an added level of protection while I’m traveling.

Another option is NAS or Network-Attached Storage. This differs from the previously mentioned drives because it connects to your network. This is useful if you want to access it remotely, or from multiple devices in your network. Choosing between DAS (Direct-Attached Storage) and NAS can be tricky, so we do have a photography-focused article to help you make a decision. Looking for a good example of a NAS? The Drobo 5N2 5-Bay NAS Enclosure comes to mind.

One more thing may be helpful for travelers: wireless hard drives. When you are on the road, it can be extremely tough to follow any sort of backup protocol. Sometimes you won’t even have a laptop. That is where the GNARBOX 2.0 and other wireless drives can come in handy. Battery-powered and with many featuring integrated SD card slots and USB ports, you can back up your files no matter where you are. Here’s a quick roundup of current models!

Although B&H doesn’t exactly have this in its inventory, consider cloud storage solutions. Amazon, Google, Backblaze, Dropbox… I could go on and on with current options. Each offers its own tiers and will require research because this is a continually changing field. The best parts about cloud storage are that it is off-site, so that is a secure level of protection, and you can access it from anywhere.

If this quick explanation of various drive types tells you anything, it’s that there is an abundance of options for protecting your data, so there is no excuse for not backing up all your important documents and photos. Make March 31 the day you pledge to protect your information and celebrate World Backup Day. Make sure you keep everything backed up regularly! This isn’t a once-a-year thing.

We want to know about your backup systems, so please drop by the Comments section, below, to share insights (or horror stories) on how and why to protect your data. And, if you need help getting set up yourself, be sure to ask questions below, contact our sales department via phone at 800.606.6969, or online chat.


 on: March 31, 2020, 05:52:04 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
Microsoft has released an emergency update to fix a Windows 10 bug that has been causing internet connectivity issues for users and preventing some Office 365 setups from reaching the cloud.

The company confirmed the internet connectivity bug on Thursday, which affected PCs and servers running all supported versions of Windows 10 devices that are using a proxy, especially with a virtual private network (VPN).

The bug couldn't have come at a worse time as employees work remotely en masse under government-sanctioned lockdowns or to practice social distancing amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

The outbreak has led to a boom in the use of VPNs over the past three weeks, with internet-device search engine Shodan reporting this week that VPN use is up 33% while Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) use is up 41% over the period.

Microsoft appears to have considered the bug extremely serious, last week estimating it should have a patch available in early April. But it has beaten that target, with an update now available to manually install from the Microsoft Update Catalog.

The patch is not being released to all users automatically via Windows Update, and Microsoft recommends that only users affected by the problem should install the fix.

"An out-of-band optional update is now available on the Microsoft Update Catalog to address a known issue whereby devices using a proxy, especially those using a virtual private network (VPN), might show limited or no internet connection status," Microsoft said on the Windows message center.

"We recommend you only install this optional update if you are affected by this issue."

There are updates available for Windows 10 version 1909 back through to version 1709.

The bug had the potential to be a serious drain on productivity for remote workers, depending on how company applications had been configured.


 on: March 30, 2020, 10:08:17 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
Earlier this year Microsoft began rolling out the new version of its Edge web browser that’s based on Google’s open-source Chromium browser. And honestly, in a lot of ways, the new Edge feels like Chrome with a fresh coat of paint on top.

But Microsoft has been developing new tools that help set it apart, and the company is promising to deliver several significant new features in the coming months.

For example, users will soon be able to stack their browser tabs vertically instead of horizontally, use a new “smart copy” feature to copy and paste web content without losing rich formatting, and get an alert if you’re using a website password that’s known to have been compromised.

Here are some of the new features coming to the Chromium-based Edge browser:

Vertical tabs – Move your tab bar to the side of the screen with a click to make it easier to see which
   tabs are open (coming to Insiders “in the next few months”).

Smart copy – Copy and paste web content without losing the formatting (coming to Insiders next

Password Monitor – If any of your saved username and password combinations are found “on the dark
   web,” the browser will alert you (coming to Insiders “in the next few months).

inPrivate search with Bing – Use Microsoft’s search engine while in private mode without saving your
   search history (available now to Insiders, coming to Stable channel “soon).

Microsoft also notes that Edge’s Collections feature, which lets you save content from multiple web pages in one place, is coming to the mobile versions of the browser this spring. And Edge’s Immersive Reader mode, which is already available, will be picking up new features including “line focus” soon.

Here’s an animation showing what it looks like when you switch between vertical and horizontal tabs:


 on: March 30, 2020, 08:04:46 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
If just about any manufacturer besides Huawei had faced such extreme restrictions on its software, its smartphone division would be facing a guaranteed death sentence. Yet here we are, nine months on from Huawei's initial placement on the U.S.'s "entity list," and the company's consumer device arm is very much alive and kicking. More than that, in fact -- it's pushing ahead with building out its own ecosystem and has recently launched what might well be the best smartphone camera of the year in the Huawei P40 series.

As a recap, Huwaei's smartphone software challenges are about more than just not having Google's applications and storefront preloaded on its new phones. Google services are ubiquitous elsewhere, of course, but the larger issue has to do with the under-the-hood bits and bytes that help other manufacturers' apps work, which live inside Google Play Services.

Think: single sign-on for apps like Skyscanner, Concur and Skype. Or Widevine DRM for Netflix. Or SafetyNet for mobile payments and banking. No Google doesn't just mean no Google apps, it means anything that relies on Google's under-the-hood components will also face issues. In some cases, that means even downloading an APK file from elsewhere won't get you optimal performance if a certain app still relies on the underlying Google code.

It's also far from clear whether it'll ever be possible to reliably sideload Google Mobile Services on the P40 series, as it (briefly) was for the Mate 30 series and some older Google-less Huawei phones.

Which is where Huawei Mobile Services comes in. Starting last summer, Huawei embarked upon the mammoth task of creating its own mobile services framework, with the ultimate goal of emerging as the third major mobile platform, alongside Google and Apple. The company certainly has near-limitless resources to dedicate to this task, as proven by its actions in recent weeks: wooing developers with a more generous revenue cut, while also building compelling new features into the new Huawei ecosystem.

Though there are still app gaps to be seen, Huawei's AppGallery storefront has improved considerably since last May. The most significant absences are U.S.-developed apps, for obvious reasons. Elsewhere, Huawei has tapped local alternatives for features like maps, messaging and the like. And efforts to bring more big-name developers to Huawei's storefront are ongoing.

Nevertheless, the stopgap solution of using the "Phone Clone" feature to port across apps that aren't yet available is imperfect at best. If an app isn't available on AppGallery, you're left having to manually update it via unofficial sites like APKMirror. If you're going in fresh, you may find an unofficial, curated site like this to be your best option. (The APKMirror folks are currently trialing their own storefront, for what it's worth.)

Even then, many of these apps rely on Google Mobile Services at present, and until Huawei is able to coax all the big players into adopting its HMS alternative, there are going to be some unavoidable teething issues.

One scenario which seems increasingly unlikely is some sort of truce between Huawei and the U.S. government, with rumors swirling this week that the administration may even try to cut off Huawei from US-aligned chip vendors like TSMC.

The dream of a quick return to normal relations seems unlikely, and for Huawei phones, that means forging ahead with its own ecosystem, under its own control, without the risk of the rug being pulled from under it.

Phones like the P40 Pro have plenty going for them. Awesome screens. Phenomenal hardware design. Luxurious high technology. But the company still faces a monumental challenge in keeping customers, carriers and broad public opinion on its side over the next year while it builds out its new smartphone ecosystem. If any manufacturer can thrive outside of the Google umbrella, it's Huawei, and I'll be watching with interest as the year progresses.


 on: March 30, 2020, 06:18:49 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
Update: Activision has prematurely released the reveal trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered.

Uploaded onto YouTube, the trailer shows the original campaign remade for modern consoles in stunning graphical quality.

The trailer also shows that those who purchase the remade campaign will also receive the following Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty Warzone items:

   ■ UDT Ghost Skin

   ■ Task Force Weapon Blueprint

   ■ One for One Weapon Blueprint

   ■ Flippers Weapon Charm

   ■ Belly Flop Finishing Move

   ■ Stay Frosty Voice Quip

   ■ No Easy Days Player Card

   ■ Ghost Emblem

Original Story:

A PlayStation Store listing of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered has revealed that not only does the game exist, but the iconic first-person shooter will also be revived tomorrow.

The store page, which was swiftly removed from PSN, showed the title with a release date of March 31st.

Earlier this month, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered was spotted on a Jorean video games rating board that was filed back in late February.

Sources close to Eurogamer state that the remastered shooter has been finished for quite some time but publisher Activision has been waiting for “the right time” to release it. With the game consisting of just the campaign – as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) has already begun incorporating MW2 maps – the company has been looking for a good time.

Apparently, between Doom Eternal, Animal Crossing, Resident Evil 3, Persona 5 Royal and Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a good time to release. They must be putting all bets on COVID.


 on: March 30, 2020, 06:13:43 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
A PlayStation Store listing of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered has revealed that not only does the game exist, but the iconic first-person shooter will also be revived tomorrow.

The store page, which was swiftly removed from PSN, showed the title with a release date of March 31st.

Earlier this month, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered was spotted on a Jorean video games rating board that was filed back in late February.

Sources close to Eurogamer state that the remastered shooter has been finished for quite some time but publisher Activision has been waiting for “the right time” to release it. With the game consisting of just the campaign – as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) has already begun incorporating MW2 maps – the company has been looking for a good time.

Apparently, between Doom Eternal, Animal Crossing, Resident Evil 3, Persona 5 Royal and Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a good time to release. They must be putting all bets on COVID.


 on: March 30, 2020, 06:09:15 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt

Square Enix will be releasing the long-awaited Final Fantasy 7 Remake earlier than expected due to the Coronavirus.

While the publisher recently declared that some copies of Final Fantasy 7 Remake may end up being released later than expected, the company has turned a full 180-degrees. People with physical pre-orders must be having so many heart attacks.

Square Enix revealed today that physical copies of Final Fantasy 7 Remake are shipping earlier than expected in Europe and Australia.  However, copies for American audiences will not be shipping until this week. Unfortunate.

The news was revealed via a lengthy Twitter post that urged fans of the series to not spoil the game for those who won’t have their copies before or on the release date.

“If you get the game early, please think of others and don’t spoil it for them. We know there are potential spoilers that have been out there for over two decades as the original Final Fantasy VII was released back in 1997. But Final Fantasy VII Remake is a new game that still has many surprises for everyone. All our fans and players deserve to experience the game for themselves, and we ask for the support of our dedicated community around the world to help with that.”

Final Fantasy 7 is set to release on April 10th for PlayStation 4. The game’s timed exclusivity deal is set to last just one year with other versions possibly coming to next-gen in 2021.


 on: March 30, 2020, 05:43:05 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
Microsoft recently celebrated the third anniversary of Microsoft Teams, collaboration software that is the hub for teamwork and group chat in Office 365.

Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, Microsoft saw an unprecedented spike in Teams usage, and Teams now have more than 44 million daily users, a figure that has grown by 12 million in just the last seven days. And those users have generated over 900 million meetings and calling minutes on Teams each day this week.

Until now, Teams were used only by enterprise and SMB users. Today, Microsoft announced the consumer edition of Microsoft Teams.

Instead of relying on ad-supported chat services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and others, Microsoft is now proposing Microsoft 365 users to use Teams consumer edition for their everyday communication with family and friends. Microsoft also highlighted some new consumer-focused features that are coming to Teams for Life, read about it below.

Teams consumer edition will be available later this year.

You can sign-up for Teams for Life preview here.

 on: March 30, 2020, 05:29:57 PM 
Started by javajolt - Last post by javajolt
Microsoft 365 is an enterprise bundle that brings together the best of Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). Microsoft today announced a consumer edition of Microsoft 365 service. The new Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions will include premium services including Office, Outlook, OneDrive, Teams consumer edition, and the new Family Safety app.

Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions will be available on 21 April 2020. You can subscribe today and get all of the benefits of Microsoft 365 automatically on April 21.

You can learn more about Microsoft 365 for home here.


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