Windows 10 reviews are in, the people love it – here’s how to get it

Despite some bugs, it’s much, much better than Windows 8.

Microsoft has released their latest version of the Windows operating system. And a look around the Web has revealed a consensus: Windows 10 rocks.

Our long national nightmare is over — Windows 8.1 is no longer the current version of Windows. Now it’s Windows 10, and today’s the day it hits the airwaves for what appears to be as many people as Microsoft can keep the servers running for. For a while, it was expected that only Insiders would get it first, followed by those who request the update, as well as anyone who buys a new machine starting today. It appears that lots of people are getting it right away though, which is a nice surprise.

To install it on your current machine, first check Windows Update; you should see a notification saying that it’s available, assuming you’ve pre-registered for it. If it’s there, then that’s the simplest way, and you can install it right over your current install and preserve all of your existing software and data.

Windows 10 1080p



The better news is that if you want to do a clean install of Windows 10 — say, if you’re a stickler for a super-clean machine like we are — you can do it starting today with a new Windows 10 .ISO file, which you can download straight from Microsoft’s website and install on a USB key.

Right now Windows 10 is gearing up to break Internet traffic records. Later today download speeds are expected to top 40 terabytes per second (that’s 40M megabytes per second) as millions of users rush to upgrade. The driving force is Windows 10 is free, but exactly who qualifies for this free upgrade and who is left out in the cold?

Right, let me explain:

Who Gets Windows 10 Free

  • Windows 7 Home and Professional users running Service Pack 1
  • Windows 8 Home and Professional users running the Windows 8.1 update

Limited Time Offer

Now if you are using one of the Windows versions listed above there’s one crucial caveat which has been widely misunderstood: starting today (July 29th) you have one year to upgrade to Windows 10 or you will be charged the standard retail price:

  • Windows 10 Home: $119
  • Windows 10 Pro: $199

What the one year period doesn’t mean is that Windows 10 will start charging those who upgraded for free after one year. It means you’ll have to pay to upgrade to Windows 10 if you haven’t done so already.

Once aboard you can also relax: Windows 10 has a 10 year supported lifespan in line with previous Windows releases. As per Microsoft’s Windows Lifecycle support page, Windows 10 has Mainstream Support (adding new features) until October 13, 2020 and Extended Support (delivering security updates) until October 14, 2025.

Consequently, no matter what ‘Windows as a service’ plans Microsoft may have for the future, if you sit on Windows 10 you’ll be fine until the end of Extended Support in October 2025.

Who Misses Out

Given the extent to which ‘Free’ has been thrown around with Windows 10, this is a surprisingly long list:

Windows 7 Enterprise users (even those running Service Pack 1)
Windows 8 Enterprise users (even those running the Windows 8.1 update)
Windows RT
Windows Vista
Windows XP
Users running pirated copies of Windows

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Apple may have free annual upgrades, Apple still faces stubborn OS X fragmentation

OS X edition shares April 2015

Yosemite accounted for a majority of all OS X editions in play last month, but versions from 2009 to 2012 powered one in five Macs.

Credit: Net Applications 

Although Apple has done a better job of moving its Mac users along with each new operating system than has rival Microsoft, the Cupertino, Calif. company has been unable to eradicate fragmentation as it accelerated upgrades to an annual cadence.

According to data from analytics firm Net Applications, three OS X editions that were three years or older retained five or more percentage points of user share last month. Those three editions — 2009’s Snow Leopard, 2011’s Lion and 2012’s Mountain Lion — powered 20% of all Macs in April. When 2007’s Leopard was included, the number climbed to 21.3%.

There’s no question that Apple’s policy of giving away its OS X upgrades — a practice begun in 2013 with Mavericks — has reduced fragmentation by pulling Mac owners onto the newest edition faster than did versions that carried a price tag. The current OS X Yosemite, for example, accounted for 57.5% of all Macs in April, 23 percentage points higher than where Mountain Lion stood at the same point in its post-launch timeline. Mountain Lion was the last upgrade that cost customers money.

But the annual upgrades, even free, have been unable to eliminate laggards. While Yosemite powered the majority of Macs last month, Mavericks accounted for 21%, Mountain Lion and Lion for 6% each, Snow Leopard for 8%, and Leopard for nearly 2%. More than four in every 10 Macs ran an aged OS in April.

And older OS X editions dwindle in importance at a very slow rate: Over the past six months, Snow Leopard, Lion and Mountain Lion — the upgrades launched between 2009 and 2012 — have averaged a decline of less than half a percentage point each month.

By the time Apple issues its next edition of OS X — like its two predecessors, probably tagged with a California location name — 25%, or a quarter of all Macs, will still be running Mavericks or earlier.

Those numbers stand in stark contrast to iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system. By Apple’s tally, 82% of all iOS devices now run version 8, which was released a few weeks before Yosemite last fall. 2013’s iOS 7 powered only 17% of all devices, while the rest of the even-older iOSes accounted for just a measly 2%.

Operating system makers like Apple and Microsoft may talk up accelerated release tempos, and analysts may see similarities between those efforts on personal computers and the long-standing upgrade practices by smartphone owners, but the truth is that there’s no evidence to show consumers take to a new computer OS at the same pace as they do mobile operating systems.

Eliminating fragmentation is a goal of all OS makers, for it homogenizes the user base, providing developers a large and theoretically lucrative target for apps and services that leverage the latest features and APIs (application programming interfaces). More customers on the latest version can also reduce support costs, and newer OSes are typically more secure.

Microsoft, especially, has been talking up fragmentation, or the reduction of fragmentation, among its Windows users as it beats the Windows 10 drum.

“Today Windows customers are spread across many versions. This fragmentation makes it challenging for developers to delight our customers with applications,” said Terry Myerson, the Microsoft executive who leads the Windows group, in January when he announced that Windows 10 would be a free upgrade for consumers and some businesses.

In fact, Microsoft has set an ambitious goal of getting Windows 10 onto 1 billion devices — or two-thirds of those currently running Windows — by mid-2018, part of its anti-fragmentation strategy as it pivots toward making money from services and apps.

Windows is much more fragmented than is OS X, of course: As of April, about 17% of all Windows PCs ran 2001’s Windows XP, more than the share of Windows 8/8.1, Microsoft’s newest OS. And unlike Apple’s most popular edition, Microsoft’s was 2009’s Windows 7, which accounted for 64% of all in-use Windows versions.

Operating systems on personal computers have a long “tail,” something even Apple has found out.

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Should I buy a Windows 8.1 PC now or wait for Windows 10?

Will Windows 10 Pro cost more if I wait for the release of Windows 10? I can buy a Windows 8.1 machine and wait for a free Windows 10 upgrade, but would I be penalized for waiting to buy a laptop with Windows 10 already installed?

Windows 10, the much-anticipated successor to Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, is expected to launch in late July, according to the latest leaks.

AMD chief executive Lisa Su let the date slip in a conference call with analysts and investors in April. AMD is one of the world’s largest chip makers, and therefore likely to be well-informed about Microsoft’s plans.

“With the Windows 10 launch at the end of July, we’re watching, sort of the impact of that on the back-to-school season,” Su said in response to a question from an industry analyst.

Microsoft had already said that it intended to launch Windows 10 in the “summer”, but had not given a more specific date.

Windows 10 was first announced in April 2014 and is currently in public beta testing, with Microsoft having now confirmed that this will be the last-ever version of the Windows operating system.

Unlike with previous versions, there will not be a separate Windows Phone 10 operating system. Instead, Windows 10 will be used across all Microsoft devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones – as well as the Xbox games console and HoloLens, Microsoft’s new wireless holographic headset. Windows 10 could also enable users to manage devices and appliances across their home.

However, Microsoft revealed at their recent Build developer conference that release of Windows 10 would be staggered across other devices, following the PC launch.

There will be a single store to buy software from, with developers only needing to write it once for all devices.

A new feature called Continuum means people using Windows 10 with a mouse and keyboard will see the new system in a classic desktop mode, but switching to a tablet or smartphone will see it transform into touchscreen mode.

Microsoft has also brought back the Start Menu, which was ditched in Windows 8 in favour of “tiles”, in the hope that it would encourage wider adoption on touchscreen devices.

However, the resizable tiles still feature in Windows 10, appearing when users open the Start Menu and signalling new emails and social media messages as well as weather information.

Microsoft hopes that the compromise between a Start menu and a tiled display will entice more people to use the operating system on tablets and mobile phones as well as desktop PCs.

The company has not yet revealed what the final operating system will look like on a smartphone, but leaked screen shots of build 10070 suggest that the “Live Tiles” will be closer together with narrow borders between them.

Rather than Internet Explorer, Windows 10 will come with a new web browser called Microsoft Edge, which allows users to annotate webpages or save them to read later.

It will also include Microsoft’s personal assistant tool Cortana – already on Windows Phone – which will pop-up with notifications and act as a search tool.

Windows 10 will be made available simultaneously in 190 countries and 111 languages. It will be free for a year for users of the previous operating systems Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. The price for new users and after the year has yet to be confirmed.

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Windows 10 -Technical Preview

Windows 10's Coolest Features In 5 Animated GIFs

So as many of you may have heard Windows 9 will not be Windows 9. This may sound confusing or weird but Microsoft is not wanting to follow one numerical step behind Apple’s OS X. Now because Microsoft isn’t naming Windows 9 what will it be called? Well as you have read and heard about it will be called Windows 10! It was originally thought about being called Windows One to follow OneNote and OneDrive but Microsoft is breaking away from the past and because of that Windows 10 was born!

So now that we have Windows 10, you might be asking yourself… whats it going to be like and hows it going to operate? Well my friend I have an answer! Microsoft has a program called “Windows Insider” and what this program does is allows Windows lovers to download and install the technical development version of the current software listed. The program allows you to download and install the normal preview edition as well as the enterprise edition. Now just because its released for testing doesn’t mean the program is stable so when using the technical preview you may experience crashes and freezes. The preview is also only recommended for people with high experience in the Windows world and with operating system installs. So now that you have a good enough background with the program and software lets get started!

Please note before we start a few points.


  • You CANNOT boot this off a flash drive. The OS MUST be installed!
  • The program requires you to make an install disk or flash drive using the iso file provided.
  • Make a recovery disk before the install to make sure you don’t loose anything.
  • The install asks for a product key so make sure this is on hand during the install. (will be provided)
  • You will need a Microsoft account to join the program. (LINK)


  • Windows 10's Coolest Features In 5 Animated GIFs

    First, You are going to need to log on to the windows insider page and sign in (LINK)
    Next, After your signed in we have to prep your PC for the install. Go to the following links and review all the requirements. (LINK)

    To begin the download first go to the following link (LINK)
    Now that your on that page we need to write down your product key and pick what build and version you want. See figure 1
    After copying the key and deciding what version and build were using download the iso image. See figure 2
    Finally, we have to extract the ISO image to a USB.

    Figure 1
    ” alt=”” class=”imgLz frmImg ” />

    Figure 2
    ” alt=”” class=”imgLz frmImg ” />

    For this part I used unetbootin to extract the ISO image to a flash drive. The rest of this process will be based off of that software but should still be that same way for other programs.
    To start make sure you know where your ISO file is and have the location handy.
    After that start unetbootin. It may ask for permission but just say yes.
    Next, click “Diskimage.”
    Now, click the file finder tab or the “…” and import the ISO file. See figure 3.
    After you imported the ISO make sure the USB drive has been selected correctly and click “OK” to begin the extract process. This may take a while so go make yourself a sandwich. :)
    Now that you have created the USB drive open the file folder and check the drive to make sure the files are there. If they are their then continue but if they are not then repeat the this step.

    Figure 3
    ” alt=”” class=”imgLz frmImg ” />

    First, turn off the PC you want to install the OS on and then plug the USB drive in.
    Next, Turn the PC on but enter the boot loader. (key varies)
    Now that your in your boot loader click the USB drive and continue.
    After that just follow the install as if it were a normal OS install.
    Now your done!

    Hope this helps


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7 Keyboard Shortcuts Users Keep Hitting By Mistake
It happens even to the most experienced of users: the accidental keyboard shortcuts. No matter how often you use your computer, weird things can start happening when you’re going too fast, when you lean on your keyboard, and of course, when you’re cat or child decide it’s party time, and your keyboard is a dance floor/drum set. Very experienced users know how to fix each and every problem, but many of us sometime encounter a weird problem we’re not sure how to fix, mainly because we’re not sure how it happened.

Has your cat ever walked on your keyboard just for a second, causing the entire display to flip on its side? Have you ever tried typing your password over and over again, getting an error even when you were sure you’re doing it right? Have you ever tried changing your keyboard language, and managed to close the entire program you were working on by mistake? If one of these things or something similar ever happened to you or someone you know, this guide is for you.

Bookmark, save, and share with friends. Next time you’ll know what to do, and more importantly, how it happened!

My Display Is Flipped!

common keyboard mistakes

If this never ever happened to you or to anyone you know, raise your hand now. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t encountered this weird problem at least once. While it’s very easy to do by mistake, especially for cats and children, it’s not always easy to remember how to fix it. So how does this happen? Ctrl+Alt+Arrow Keys. When you hit this combination, no matter which arrow, your display will flip in the direction of the arrow you used. It’s pretty simple, but very disturbing when it happens by mistake.

So how do I fix it? Ctrl+Alt+”Up Arrow” will do the trick, and will restore your display to the right orientation.

This Thing Keeps Saying My Password Is Wrong!

keyboard mistakes

This one is very common, and probably the easiest one to recognize, but this list wouldn’t be complete without it. Yes, it’s the notorious CAPS LOCK, especially when trying to type in a password. Why do we need this key on the keyboard, I will never understand. Not only is it ever-present, it’s also huge, and right above the shift button. A mistake waiting to happen if I ever saw one.

When you accidently hit caps lock when just typing, it’s not so bad. When you’re typing a hidden password, though, it can turn into a disaster. I once had myself locked out of an account on a website after getting my password wrong too many times. The darn caps lock was on, and it took me way too much time to realize what was going on.

So how do I fix it? If you get your password wrong twice in a row, CHECK THE CAPS LOCK. It’s probably on.

My Num Pad Stopped Typing Numbers!

keyboard mistakes

These days, most keyboard include a number pad, even on laptops. And where there’s a num pad (and even where there isn’t, really), there’s a Num Lock button. If you’ve ever tried to use your num pad and ended up scrolling as if you were using arrows, you’ve probably turned your num lock off. The num lock button, while it’s on, makes sure your num pad outputs numbers. When it’s off, the num pad keys turn to arrows, and you’re not getting any numbers. Since it’s mostly useless, it’s very easy to hit by mistake.

So how do I fix it? This is a no brainer: Make sure your num lock is on, if you want to type numbers. Note that on some laptops, you need to use the Fn key in order to toggle num lock. When this is done by mistake, it’s even more difficult to discover what’s happened!

My Display Keeps Changing Size!

Have you ever innocently scrolled a page, only to have it become huge or tiny within seconds? This rather amusing effect is usually caused by the Ctrl key being pressed, or even stuck, while using the mouse’s scroll wheel. When you hit Ctrl and scroll, you’re actually zooming in and out of the page (very useful to know, if you haven’t been using it). You can achieve the same effect by pressing ctrl and the plus or minus buttons, whether intentionally or not.

So how do I fix it? If you’re zooming in and out and didn’t mean to do this, check your ctrl key. If you’re not actively pressing it, tap it a few times to make sure it’s not stuck, or read “Everything Has Gone Insane!!!!” further down this post.

The Arrow Keys Scroll My Entire Excel Spreadsheet!

OK, I’ll admit this one is rare, but when it does happen, it’s really annoying. Have you ever worked on an Excel spreadsheet (or some of the other rare programs that are actually affected by this), and suddenly found that the arrow keys scroll the entire spreadsheet instead of moving between cells? Something so simple, and yet it can drive a person insane when trying to get some work done. The solution to this mystery is simple: the Scroll Lock key.

Already absent from many keyboards, this key is a relic from of times past, and doesn’t really affect most of today’s software. It does, however, work in Microsoft Excel, and several other text editors. It’s function is to turn your arrow keys into scroll keys, instead of have them move the cursor.

So how do you fix it? Well, this one is simple. Turn off scroll lock!

I’m Trying To Change Language, & Weird Things Keep Happening!

keyboard mistakes

Ah, my favorite mistake, and the one that keep happening to me over and over again. If you only use an English keyboard, you’ve probably never encountered this, but anyone who had to switch between languages or layout probably knows this. Sometimes you’re trying to switch languages by pressing Alt+Shift, and when you resume typing in the other language, all sort of crazy things start happening. What’s going on?

What’s  happening is that for some reason, the keyboard didn’t catch the “shift” part of the shortcut, and only took the “alt” into account. In many programs, hitting alt is the same as opening the menus on top. When you hit alt and then a combination of letters, you can activate pretty much every function in the menu, using only the keyboard. Very useful when you actually want to do this, but not so when you only want to switch languages. I can’t count the number of times I managed to close the entire window, when I was only trying to switch languages.

(I’m not even going to go into the “typing in the wrong language” problem. I can write a whole post about this one.)

So how do I fix it? Stop for a second after hitting alt+shift; do you see the letters highlighted on the menu as seen in the screenshot? Don’t go any further. Hit escape, and then alt+shift again, this time with intention!

Everything Has Gone Insane!!!!

You’re trying to type, and weird things keep happening. Capital letters come out of nowhere, your text is randomly highlighted or disappears, and your windows keep minimizing for no apparent reason. If you’re really in trouble, you may even lock your entire computer without meaning to. And the thing keeps beeping! What’s going on?

common keyboard mistakes

Yes, the infamous sticky keys. While these could be very convenient for people who have trouble holding two keys at the same time, it’s nothing but a nuisance to anyone else. And the worse thing: they can be activated by mistake. Sticky keys make it so you don’t have to hold the shift, ctrl, alt and Win keys in order to activate their special functions. You can hit shift, let it go, and then hit a letter. You will get a capital latter.

How do you activate it? Usually by tapping on the shift button five times in a row. When you do that, a beep sounds, and the above dialog box appears. If you’re not paying attention, you might just hit yes without realizing, it is the default answer after all, and you’re stuck with sticky keys.

So how do I fix it? If you’ve managed to activate sticky keys by mistake, tapping five times on the shift button will turn them off. You won’t see a notice about it, but you’ll hear four beeps, and then a distinctive downwards beep. Sticky keys are now off!


These are most likely not the only annoying keys people hit by mistake. When writing this post, I was trying to include the most common keyboard mistakes I could think of, especially those that keep happening to me. Not being a newbie, I’m aware that if something happens to me, it can sure happen to people who don’t use a computer for their livelihood.

Is there an annoying keyboard shortcut I forgot to mention? Does something like this keep happening to you? Tell us your stories, and of course, how to fix it!

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Ninite is fast, easy, and unwanted third-party software free

The next time you want to install your favorite browser, update iTunes, or get the latest security release for Flash, do yourself a favor. Skip the vendor’s site and go straight to instead.

This cleanly designed web service offers immediate access to more than 80 programs, utilities, and runtime environments in a dozen categories. It’s completely free for personal use (a Pro version is available for businesses). Ninite will save you time, and it guarantees that you won’t have to deal with the potentially misleading dialog boxes that can result in unwanted third-party software—being installed on your machine.

Here’s how Ninite works:

You visit and click check boxes to select one or more programs from the categorized list.

When you’re finished, click the big green Get Installer button and wait while the Ninite back end builds an installer that targets the correct versions (32-bit or 64-bit, XP or Windows 7, and so on).

Download that installer, run it, and let Ninite do the work of downloading the files and silently installing them in the background. It automatically refuses any toolbars or other third-party software that the regular installer runs.

When it finishes (very quickly, in my experience), you’ll find the shortcuts to your newly installed programs on the Start menu, where you can run them and go through any required initial setup steps.

It really is that simple.

And here’s a bonus: If you save the installer and rerun it later, it will find and install any newly added updates for the apps in your selection.

I spoke with Ninite’s co-founder, Patrick Swieskowski, about the service and how it works. (If you’re curious, by the way, Swieskowski pronounces the first syllable with a soft I—nin rhymes with win. But he acknowledges that most people pronounce it with a long I, like Nine.)

Is it legal? In the arcane world of software licensing, who knows? But Ninite’s terms of serviceseem clear enough to me: “By using Ninite you certify that you have read and agree with the license agreements and restrictions of any software you install with Ninite.” As Swieskowski explained, it’s no different than hiring a friend—or the kid down the street—to set up a new PC for you.

Is it secure? I’m comfortable with the checks and balances. The installer goes out to official sites to download the code you install; Ninite doesn’t host any files on its own. Before it begins an install, it checks the digital signature of the file to ensure that its hash matches the known good version you’re expecting.

One of the most interesting Ninite options is the way it handles URLs. You can save a selection of software as a single URL, which is constructed from the names of the products. So if you want Mom to install the latest versions of Firefox, iTunes, and Skype, send her this link: When she visits that site, she gets a custom installer that sets up those three programs without any dialog boxes:

You can even use custom URLs on the fly to install single programs. You want Skype? Go to Flash? Try (or if you use Internet Explorer).

For now, Ninite  is available for Windows and Linux only, but a Mac version is in the works. Highly recommended.

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CryptoLocker look-alike searches for and encrypts PC game files

If you’re a gamer (or anyone else), this is not a screen you want to see.
Bromium Labs


Crypto-based “ransomware” has become a lucrative business for cybercriminals. Since the arrival of CryptoLocker on the scene last year, a number of copycat malware packages have appeared to compete in the cyber-extortion market, encrypting victims’ photos and other personal files with a key that will be destroyed if they don’t contact the malware’s operators and pay up. Recently, a new variant has emerged that seeks to raise the stakes with a particular class of victim by specifically seeking out files related to a number of popular PC games, as well as Valve’s Steam gaming platform.

The malware, which is a variant of the crypt-ransomware called TeslaCrypt, superficially looks like CryptoLocker. But according to a number of security researchers who have analyzed the malware, it shares little code with CryptoLocker or its more well-known successor CryptoWall. And while it will also will target photos and documents, as well as iTunes-related files, as Bromium security researcher Vadim Kotov noted in an analysis on Bromium Labs’ blog, TeslaCrypt also includes code that specifically looks for files related to more than 40 specific PC games, gaming platforms, and game developer tools. The games include both single player and multiplayer games, though it isn’t clear how targeting some of the multiplayer games would affect users other than requiring a re-install.

The games targeted include a mix of older and newer titles— for example, Blizzard’s StarCraft II and WarCraft III real-time strategy games and its World of Warcraft online game are targeted. Also on TeslaCrypt’s hit list: Bioshock 2, Call of Duty, DayZ, Diablo, Fallout 3, League of Legends, F.E.A.R, S.T.A.L.K.E.R, Minecraft, Metro 2033, Half-Life 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Resident Evil 4, World of Tanks, Metin 2, and The Elder Scrolls (specifically, Skyrim-related files), as well as Star Wars: The Knights Of The Old Republic. There’s also code that searches for files associated with games from specific companies that affect a wide range of titles, including a variety of games from EA Sports, Valve, and Bethesda, and Valve’s Steam gaming platform. And the game development tools RPG Maker, Unity3D and Unreal Engine are targeted as well.

These files are all targeted by their file extension, Kotov reported. “Concretely these are user profile data, saved games, maps, mods, etc,” he said. “Often it’s not possible to restore this kind of data even after re-installing a game via Steam.” Ars has reached out to Valve for comment on what users can restore from online, but hasn’t received a response.

Kotov also discovered the delivery vehicle for TeslaCrypt: a WordPress site that had been compromised by attackers, which was (and still is) redirecting site visitors to a page with a malicious Flash component served up by the Angler exploit kit—the heir apparent to Blackhole. The exploit Flash movie, hidden in an invisible banner, attacks Internet Explorer (up to IE 11) and Opera browsers with JavaScript that opens an IFRAME to the Angler exploit page. (Attempts to contact the owner of the site have gone unanswered, and the URL that serves up the Flash attack keeps changing.)

The ransomware “dropper” package performs a scan for a number of virtual machines (including Kaspersky Labs’ sandbox, VMware, VirtualBox and Parallels) by checking for telltale driver files. Then it drops a pair of Internet Explorer Flash exploits to download and install the malware—identifying it as CryptoLocker. Like CryptoWall, it uses Tor to communicate with a command and control server, and gives the victim a link to a Tor “hidden service” site—either presented within the malware itself, or reachable through a Tor gateway URL.

And just as with CryptoWall, this TeslaCrypt variant’s encryption scheme has yet to be cracked. Once files are encrypted, the only way to recover them at present is to pay the malware’s masters. The variant analyzed by Kotov had Bitcoin code directly integrated into the malware to make it easier for victims to pay; other TeslaCrypt variants allow payments via PayPal MyCash cards, making it easier for victims unfamiliar with Bitcoin to pay up—though they may charge a premium for that option.

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Microsoft Is Phasing Out Internet Explorer Starting With Windows 10

Microsoft made it official this week that the standard web browser to ship with Windows 10 will not be Internet Explorer (sigh of relief). It will not only have a new name, it will be a completely different browser, designed from scratch (yay!). It will even come with neat new features, including letting you write directly on webpages from your touchscreen, making sites more readable, and saving sites for offline reading (cool!).

But Internet Explorer will be sticking around. (Wait, what?!)

Yup. Microsoft’s new browser (currently codenamed “Project Spartan”) will be built on a different software platform from IE, so it won’t be backwards-compatible. That means Microsoft will continue to ship IE with Windows to ensure that corporate apps keep functioning properly.

“We recognize some enterprises have legacy websites that use older technologies designed only for Internet Explorer,” said Jason Weber, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer program manager, in a blog post. “For these users, Internet Explorer will also be available on Windows 10.”

In other words, don’t get mad at Microsoft. Blame your IT department for building apps in Internet Explorer. And South Korea (which passed a law in 1999 requiring that banks and retailers use digital certificates — created by Microsoft, and available exclusively on Internet Explorer).

IE is mostly going away for good, though. In Windows 10, Spartan will be the primary way people access the Web. If you buy a Windows 10 PC, you’ll likely never even notice that IE is installed on your computer.

Meanwhile, Chris Caposella, Microsoft’s marketing chief, said this week that Microsoft is looking to name its new browser. Acknowledging what a poisonous brand Internet Explorer has become, the company said it has whittled it down to four new names, all of which test better with Google Chrome users than “Internet Explorer.”

Internet Explorer has become synonymous with bugs, security problems and outdated technology. Even as it’s improved dramatically in recent years, it continues to lose serious ground to rivals.

Once the most-used web browser, Internet Explorer had been on a steady downward trajectory for years. Its share of the browser market fell below the 50% threshold in 2010 and sank below 20% in October, according to browser usage tracker StatCounter. Google’s Chrome is currently the leader, commanding nearly half of the market.

Microsoft has finally woken up, and just wants to kill the thing altogether. A fresh start makes sense.

Ironically, Microsoft allowed IT departments to dig a hole so deep that it might be years before Internet Explorer will die once and for all.

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Java Logo

Should you use Java? If you don’t need it, don’t install it; plenty of Java exploits and vulnerabilities can really make your day unpleasant, not to mention the crapware that Oracle puts on your system whenever you go to install Java.

As Windows users have experienced for some time now, the very company that officially distributes Java is also one that seemingly benefits from a revenue arrangement with Whenever you go to install Java on a Windows machine, you have to resist the urge to blindly click through the prompts to get the installation up and running. If you do, then you’re also going to install an annoying Ask toolbar on your system—and make your default search provider in your browser. Yuck.

Those installing Java on OS X haven’t had to deal with such an issue, but that’s all changing now. According to numerous reports, the latest version of Java for Mac now also comes with Ask software—specifically, the “Search App by Ask,” which you’re asked whether you want to install as part of the Java installation process.

To Oracle’s credit, the company is fairly clear about the arrangement in the online instructions for installing Java on OS X.

“Oracle has partnered with companies that offer various products. The installer may present you with the option to install these programs when you install Java. After ensuring the desired programs are selected, click the Next button to continue the installation,” reads Oracle’s description.

As Engadget notes, Oracle’s decision to bundle crapware with Java has led to 20,000+ signature online petition that asks the company to reconsider its decision—a petition that’s been alive for more than two years, we should note.

“It is demeaning for a respected corporation such as Oracle to resort to such techniques only to make a small profit. Ask Toolbar hijacks user’s default search engine and forwards them to Ask search engine which resorts to various misleading advertisement techniques in order to confuse the unsuspecting users into clicking on their paid ads,” reads the petition.

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It can take up to six months for Antivirus software vendors to catch a zero-day exploit.

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy book cover


Antivirus software likes to make a point of popping up a small window in the system tray to show you when they have updated their detection definitions. So your software is up to date and ready to catch all the latest malware, right?

In a test described in its State of Infections Report Q4 2014, Damballa analyzed tens of thousands of sample files that enterprise organizations sent in for review. The files that its Failsafe scanning system detected as malicious were also scanned by the four most commonly deployed antivirus products, although Damballa declined to name names.

They found that within the first hour of identification of suspicious code, the antivirus products only caught 30% of the malware. After 24 hours, 66% of the files were identified as malicious, which means one-third of the files were still slipping through. After seven days, the identification rate rose to 72%. After one month, it identified 93% of the malicious files, and it wasn’t until six months later before all malicious files were identified.

This kind of inaccuracy is compounded by the fact that there are so many attacks on companies on any given day. Damballa cited a 2015 Ponemon Institute report that showed the average enterprise receives 17,000 malware alerts weekly from their IT security products. Only 19% of the attacks are deemed to be reliable and just 4% are ever investigated, which suggests security teams don’t have the time or resources to do anything about it.

In a real-world environment, an antivirus product would scan a file just once, usually when it first arrives via email. If the average security team receives 17,000 weekly alerts, or 2,430 alerts every day, then AV products with a 30% accuracy rate on day one would miss 796 malicious files every day.

Damballa’s conclusion is that while prevention-based defenses remain important, companies need to put greater emphasis on detection and response. “If you can reduce the time between the initial infection and its discovery and remediation, you reduce your risk of damage,” it wrote.

Naturally, Damballa happens to sell one of those discovery solutions, but its recommendations were not entirely self-serving. It recommends automation to handle detection, since 86% of companies surveyed report being short-staffed with cybersecurity experts.

“If security teams can integrate high-fidelity detection with response mechanisms, like endpoint security tools and network access control systems, they can make headway. Instead of a judgment call, decisions are policy-driven,” it said.


Mind the gaps

Don’t be mistaken: antivirus software is a crucial part of any security arsenal and every day malware scanners the world over detect and throttle millions of malicious software strains. This is not a category of software that we should live without.

Antivirus tools work by scanning both static files and programs running in memory. They use several techniques to try and detect malicious activity.

Signature scanning, which looks for known patterns in files, is a well-established method of finding software nasties, as its scanning code runs in memory, looking for potentially malicious activity as it happens.

These are solid, reliable tools but when attackers are determined enough, antivirus software alone may not stop them from grabbing your data.

The malware industry thrives on zero-day attacks – exploits using obscure or completely unknown vulnerabilities. A hacker smart enough to devise one – and there are plenty – can get past malware detectors.

The smart IT manager uses complementary technologies to reduce the risk of attack, and one is to look at the potential delivery channels for malware.

Ugly sites

One way in which attacks are delivered is via drive-by downloads. Employees visiting legitimate work sites are relatively safe, but when they visit less savory sites online they run the risk of being infected by rogue JavaScript running in the browser.

Web protection software can reduce that risk by blacklisting certain sites or groups of sites. Filtering web access is a good way to reduce the risk of infection by simply prohibiting access to sites that are not necessary for work.

It can also be a worthy complement to antivirus software that will attempt to detect anything installed via the browser. This multi-faceted protection is a basic tenet of modern cyber security.

All it takes is for one user to open a file or click a link and you can wave goodbye to the integrity of your network

Another important vector is email. This has gained huge traction among attackers, who use it for phishing, and in some cases spear phishing targeting specific companies.

Attackers can gather information about a company’s organizational structure and employees. The list of sources here is endless, ranging from annual reports through to social media posts.

These can be used to socially engineer employees to obtain login details or have them open a file containing a zero-day attack.

Employee training is all-important here but it must be backed by a technological solution too. All it takes is for one user to open a file or click a link to a fake IT administrator page asking them to enter their single sign-on password as part of a security audit, and you can wave goodbye to the integrity of your network.

Big phish

The best way to counter threats delivered via email is to choke them off before employees even see them. Monitoring and filtering emails is therefore an important part of any corporate cyber-security strategy.

Email can be scanned for viruses, and it can be controlled still further by scanning for known spam signatures and characteristics. This alone can root out the lion’s share of malicious or pestering emails, increasing employee productivity as well as reducing the risk of compromise.

Adding blacklists for known bad domains and whitelists for recognized sources, such as business partners and customers, can be an extra-useful technique for locking email down.

The further that companies can keep unscrubbed email away from their IT architectures the better. Pre-filtered email streams contain not only infected files but also large volumes of spam, which serve only to clog bandwidth and servers.

Having these filtered offsite by a third-party service mitigates the problem, ensuring that only clean communications touch company servers.

Patch and mend

Even after all these measures have been taken, there is still the chance that a company’s systems can be compromised.

The likes of Gonzalez, or the Sony Pictures hackers, are determined assailants. The battle doesn’t stop with web protection or email scanning.

Making sure the software running on the network is up to date is an important aspect of any cyber-security strategy so that attackers can’t exploit any of the known vulnerabilities in the average operating system or application.

Patch management processes and tools are critical, especially as companies grow larger and IT infrastructures become more complex. Understanding what has been rolled out and when can help IT administrators prevent dangerous holes from appearing in the system.

All of these measures, layered onto antivirus software, can help to reduce the risk of a successful cyber attack.

Here’s the dirty little secret of cyber security, though: nothing is 100 per cent secure. The key is to make things so difficult for attackers that they decide to move on to easier targets.

The way to do that is to layer your defenses, using multiple tools and protecting different parts and communications channels of the IT infrastructure.

Managing it centrally also gives you a single point of access, helping you not only to quash incidental attacks but also to spot any emerging trends that could indicate a sustained, targeted assault on your company.

This concept reflects a long-established military strategy: defence in depth, in which layers wear down an attacker’s ability to mount an offensive.

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