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SwiftKey Get New Update on Android Focused on Handwriting Improvements

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For users running an Android smartphone, the reality is the stock keyboard is solid at best and frustrating at worst. That’s why Microsoft’s SwiftKey is such a popular app, providing a feature-rich virtual keyboard experience. Microsoft is now enhancing that experience further with a new update.

As SwiftKey moves to Version 7.7.1.8 on Android, there is not much in the way of new features. However, the app developers are focusing this update on making some improvements. For example, the Handwriting tool is now better than before.

Specifically, Microsoft says there are now smoother Handwriting trails, while input performance is boosted.

Elsewhere in the update, a couple of bugs affecting SwiftKey have been squashed. The first is a problem that was causing app crashes in large Clipboards. The second is a bug in Arabic 123 layouts. You can check out the full changelog for SwiftKey Version 7.7.1.8 below:

Release Notes

  • “Your Handwriting experience should now be improved – Handwriting trails are smoother, and performance has been optimised.
  • We’ve fixed a bug that caused crashes when using large Clipboard clips.
  • We’ve fixed an issue with Fatha diacritic on Arabic 123 layouts.”

SwiftKey is one of the best and most popular virtual keyboards for mobile devices. It has recently cleared 500 million installs on Android and is doing well on iOS too. Back in August 2020, Microsoft brought Android 11 support to the app.

If you want to use SwiftKey on Android or see the release notes and details for the app, check out the Google Play Store listing here.

Tip of the day:

Do you get flooded by notifications in Windows 10 from apps and want to disable them completely or just the notification sound? Our tutorial shows you how to do this. As an alternative you can also configure Windows 10 Focus Assist (Do Not Disturb Mode) and set quiet hours.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Microsoft Voices Concerns about Australia Bill That Would Put Government in the Middle of Security

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Microsoft is reminding the Australian federal government that it has problems with a legislation proposal for security infrastructure changes. Specifically, Microsoft believes some of the aspects of the Bill could make Australia less secure. In recent years, the country has been taking an increasingly strict position against cybersecurity.

Known as the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020, the draft legislation from the Department of Home Affairs wants to make amendments to the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act 2018.

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton believes the proposal improves the 2018 act by creating “an enhanced framework to uplift the security and resilience of Australia’s critical infrastructure”. In other words, the reach of the 2018 Act would extend to more sectors, such as communications, data and cloud, food and grocery, defence, research, health, transport, and higher education.

It has been before Parliament since December 2020 and if passed would force critical infrastructure organizations to fulfil certain security obligations. For example, it would include mandatory reporting to the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). Furthermore, companies with close links to government and infrastructure security, such as cloud providers, would have added cybersecurity obligations.

Microsoft Speaks Out

Microsoft is a noted critic of the Bill and has now submitted its concerns to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS). The company says government intervention is not needed and goes against the goals of the proposal:

“Microsoft has significant concerns about this authority …  we believe that a policy allowing for direct governmental intervention would undermine the government’s objectives of defence and recovery,” the company writes.

“Rather, in many cases, it is the individual organisations themselves, and not the government, that are best positioned to determine how to appropriately respond to and mitigate the impact of cyber incidents.

“It would take a preclusive amount of time for the government to come into a live incident, properly understand the fact pattern, the technologies in play and the challenges of any decisions, and then be able to direct an appropriate response.”

One of Microsoft’s chief concerns is the government would be forcing obligations without understanding how certain resources function.

“As such, the danger of having a government direct a private sector entity’s response without complete knowledge of the situation and the technology cannot be understated,” Microsoft adds.

“Moreover, individual organisations are not only best positioned to respond; they also have as equal an incentive as the government to protect their own networks and maintain the trust of their customers.”

Some of Microsoft’s biggest cloud rivals, including Salesforce and Amazon Web Services (AWS), have taken a similar stance against the proposed legislation.

Tip of the day:

Do you know the built-in repair tools SFC and DISM of Windows 10? With many problems they can get you back on track without loosing data and using third-party programs. In out tutorial we show you how to use them.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Tesla Bets on Bitcoin: Is Microsoft Next?

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Bitcoin is once again seeing a massive jump in its value following Tesla’s decision to invest $1.5 billion in the cryptocurrency. As well as sending BTC’s value soaring by 16% to $44,141, the investment once again highlights the mainstreaming of Bitcoin. However, don’t expect Microsoft to be following Tesla’s lead just yet.

Microsoft, despite already using Bitcoin, is unlikely to invest in the cryptocurrency by buying coins. That does not mean Tesla has not lit the way for other companies wanting to buy BTC. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company became the first automaker to embrace Bitcoin, saying it will soon accept BTC as a form of payment for its vehicles.

Tesla will “begin accepting bitcoin as a form of payment for our products in the near future … initially on a limited basis, which we may or may not liquidate upon receipt.”

Speaking to CNBC, analyst Dan Ives expects Tesla’s action to “have a ripple effect across corporations around the global,” He describes the investment as a “potential game changing move for the use of bitcoin from a transactional perspective.”

Tesla car official promo
Tesla has invested $1.5 billion in Bitcoin

Is Microsoft Tempted by Bitcoin?

Could Microsoft be one of corporations that follows Tesla’s lead and directly purchases BTC? It remains very unlikely and it has nothing to do with Microsoft’s view on crypto. In fact, the Redmond giant has been a consistent supporter and investor in blockchain technologies for years.

However, investment in Bitcoin and using the currency within its organization does not mean Microsoft will invest fiat currency towards purchasing coins. Microsoft’s journey with cryptocurrency seems to be more focused on integration of Bitcoin within its products and services.

Certainly, embracing BTC as a technology concept fits perfectly with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s goals for the company. Nadella has been a cloud-first CEO, one who has embraced innovation to drive the company to massive successes. In fact, it was soon after Nadella replaced Steve Ballmer as CEO that Microsoft started to embrace Bitcoin.

Since 2014, Microsoft has been accepting BTC as “a payment option to buy apps, games and other digital content from Windows, Window Phone, Xbox Games, Xbox Music or Xbox Video Stores”. Aside from brief blips where Bitcoin payments were banned because of volatility, Microsoft has remained a long term and early adopter of the currency.

Further to Microsoft’s push to integrate Bitcoin as a technology tool can be seen with the company’s Identity Overlay Network (ION). Based on the Bitcoin blockchain network, the service provides a different solution to regular username and password systems. Microsoft’s solution anchors identifiers to blockchain solutions like Ethereum or Bitcoin, ensuring that users have control over their information rather than their account provider.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates is a critic of Bitcoin

Investment Unlikely

Microsoft’s heavy investment in Bitcoin as a technology solution fits perfectly with Satya Nadella’s love of innovation to drive growth. Integration of blockchain into new products makes sense, but directly investing in Bitcoin arguably does not. Certainly, any such investment would go against the opinion of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Gates has taken a flop-flopping position when discussing Bitcoin, seemingly praising it one interview only to lament it the next. Certainly, it seems Gates is more of a critic than he is a fan. During an interview with CNBC in 2018, the former Microsoft CEO-turned-philanthropist, said he would get rid of the cryptocurrency if he could:

“As an asset class, you’re not producing anything and so you shouldn’t expect it to go up. It’s kind of a pure ‘greater fool theory’ type of investment… I agree I would short it if there was an easy way to do it.”

So, Microsoft is unlikely to follow Tesla’s lead right now and won’t be part of a wave of global corporations making a direct investment in Bitcoin. Although, there are some that believe the company is merely delaying the inevitable. Raoul Pal, the founder and chief executive of Global Macro Investor and former Goldman Sachs manager, said last year Microsoft and fellow tech giant Apple will invest in Bitcoin within five years.

Delaying the Inevitable?

It seems that Microsoft and Bitcoin are on an unavoidable course where eventually the company will make an investment. As BTC continues its path to the mainstream within major organizations, it seems inevitable that wider industry investment continues. However, Microsoft and other major companies will be wary of the volatility that still surrounds the currency.

Tesla’s investment sent BTC soaring by 16%, arguably making it instantly a less attractive option for other companies. If a giant like Microsoft or Apple entered the BTC market, price unpredictability is likely to continue.

Tip of the day:

Thanks to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) you can run complete Linux distributions within Windows 10. In our tutorial, we show you how to install Ubuntu or other Linux packages and how to activate the bash shell.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

WhatsApp Brings Biometric Support to Desktop and Web

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Popular chat service WhatsApp is rolling out a couple of cool new features for users on the web and desktops. Specifically, the Facebook-owned company is launching face and fingerprint unlock capabilities.

Clearly a move to make WhatsApp on web and desktop more secure, the tools will add an extra layer of protection when syncing the service. Interesting, the tool will not be making its way to the mobile version of WhatsApp, at least not yet.

WhatsApp has largely steered clear of the various privacy and data concerns that have plagued parent company Facebook. Clearly it wants to keep it that way and is making it clear that the feature does not tap into the biometric data on a device.

“Note: The authentication is handled by your device’s operating system using the biometrics stored there. WhatsApp can’t access the biometric information stored by your device’s operating system.”

That means any biometric data that is not stored in WhatsApp will not be accessed by the app.

Improving the Desktop Experience

This is certainly a nice feature addition to WhatsApp on Windows 10. So often this version of the app seemed to be sometimes ignored so any new feature is welcome. It’s a shift in focus we have seen recently, suggesting WhatsApp is seeing more usage on its desktop clients.

Back in December, WhatsApp on Windows 10 got the ability to make and receive voice and video calls. This addition remains in beta a month later. Just like the mobile app, users see the call buttons in the chat header. Clicking these buttons will start a call with the contact the user is in the chat with.

Tip of the day:

Though many VPN providers have their own apps, you can in many cases connect to a VPN in Windows 10 without any third-party software. This is ideal if you have a self-hosted VPN or if you’re using a PC with restricted permissions. In our tutorial, we’re showing you how to connect to a VPN in Windows 10.

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Business Technology

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates Regrets Mistakes with Mobile Strategy

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As co-founder and long-time CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates has had first-hand knowledge of the company for over four decades. Over that time there have been a lot of highs, but also some notable lows. Speaking in an interview with The Indian Express, Gates says missing out on mobile remains his biggest regret.

Gates has previously been vocal about Microsoft’s labored approach to mobile platforms costing the company. Speaking in his latest interview, the billionaire emphasized that feeling by claiming that he personally made mistakes during that era:

“Microsoft didn’t end up doing the phone operating system well enough. I made mistakes there that I regret.”

While that all Bill Gates was willing to say on Microsoft’s failings in mobile, it’s clear that failure rankles him. It arguably doesn’t matter to Microsoft considering the company is currently thriving. However, there’s no doubt Microsoft missed out on a chance to rival Apple and Google in the mobile space.

It’s something Gates has discussed before. Back in 2019, he revealed he made an error by not purchasing Android before Google snapped up the operating system for just $50 million. Gates believes getting Android and being successful in mobile would put Microsoft above all other companies, not just rivalling them:

“It’s amazing to me that having made one of the greatest mistakes of all time, and there was this antitrust lawsuit and various things, that our other assets like Windows and Office are still very strong, so we are a leading company,” says Gates. “If we had gotten that one right, we would be the leading company, but oh well.”

Mobile Loss

Gates is sure Apple’s success in mobile was guaranteed because the company was riding a high from iPod. He has previously said there was only room for one more platform and that happened to be Android:

“It’s amazing to me that having made one of the greatest mistakes of all time, and there was this antitrust lawsuit and various things, that our other assets like Windows and Office are still very strong, so we are a leading company,” says Gates. “If we had gotten that one right, we would be the leading company, but oh well.”

Of course, Microsoft still went after the mobile market with Windows Phone (latterly Windows 10 Mobile). Despite many efforts to stimulate Windows Phone, including the purchase of Nokia’s Lumia hardware division, Microsoft failed. In 2020, there is no mobile platform from the company.

Gates said in 2019 he believes anti-trust cases against Microsoft prevented Windows Phone from thriving. Of course, Microsoft remains in the mobile space and is one of the biggest app developers for smartphones and tablets. Furthermore, the company now has its Surface Duo smartphone, albeit running on Android.

However, it is a question that hangs over the company and clearly Gates… what might have been?

Tip of the day:

File History is a Windows 10 back up feature that saves each version of files in the Documents, Pictures, Videos, Desktop, and Offline OneDrive folders. Though its name implies a primary focus on version control, you can actually use it as a fully-fledged backup tool for your important documents.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Microsoft FY21 Q2: Earnings Reach $43.1B Revenue as Cloud, Xbox, and Surface Thrive

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It’s almost becoming formality that when Microsoft announces its latest round of financial results, the numbers will highlight stellar performance. And so it is with the company’s fiscal second quarters financials, which were announced yesterday.

As is customary these days, Azure and Microsoft Cloud are driving growth, while once again Microsoft outpaced analyst predictions. There was also some good news for the company’s smaller divisions. Specifically Microsoft Surface, which had its highest-ever revenue quarter.

For its fiscal second quarter 2021 (Q4 2020 calendar year), Microsoft took an excellent $43.1B in revenue. Once again this marks significant growth for the company, 17% year-on-year over the same period. Operating income stood at $17.9B, a sizeable 29% improvement. As for net income, it rose 33% to $15.5B.

As always, Microsoft breaks down its overall revenue into three categories:

  • Intelligent Cloud with $14.6B in revenue (up 22%)
  • Productivity and Business Processes with $13.4B in revenue (up 13%)
  • More Personal Computing with $15.1B in revenue (up 17%)

So, once again Microsoft is showing it is thriving and was clearly unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic and following economic downturn.

Productivity and Business Processes

Microsoft’s category that includes platforms like LinkedIn, Dynamics, and Office offered another strong round. For Microsoft Office Commercial services, revenue increased be 11%, including a 21% improvement for Office 365 Commercial revenue. Microsoft also says the number of people using Office 365 Commercial grew by 15%. Non-cloud Office Commercial (non-365) was a rare low point, dipping 26% year-on-year.

As for Office on the consumer side, it too enjoyed growth (7%), including a 28% increase in subscribers, with 47.5 million consumers now using the service. LinkedIn continues to do well under Microsoft’s wing and saw its revenue increase 23%. Finally, Dynamics increased 21%.

Intelligent Cloud

Microsoft Cloud performance mostly driven by Azure as been the force that has put the company in its current financial golden generation. Once again last quarter Intelligent Cloud services continued to thrive. Indeed, server and cloud services increased by 26%, mostly thanks to a 50% revenue boost for Azure.

On-premises server products are arguably in the past, but even here Microsoft saw a 4% YoY increase. The end of support of Windows 2008 and many customers upgrading helped this growth. Microsoft says its Enterprise Mobility division saw its install base jump 29% to 163 million seats.

More Personal Computing

This is arguably the category that brings the most general interest because it includes consumer products like Windows 10, Surface, and Xbox. For Windows OEM revenue, growth was limited to 1% (9% decline for Windows OEM Pro and 24% increase for non-Pro Windows 10 SKUs).

Surface was one of the big announcements during Microsoft’s latest financials. Revenue increased a modest 3% and Microsoft was typically quiet on sales numbers. However, the $2B revenue the division made was the first time the Surface division generated more than $2 billion.

On the Xbox gaming front, Microsoft had a predictably bumper quarter. The release of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S ensured a 51% boost in revenue, driven by an 86% improvement in hardware sales.

Tip of the day:

Worried about your privacy in Windows 10 or want to keep different PCs linked to your Microsoft account strictly separate? We show you how to adjust your Windows 10 sync settings , including the clipboard, activity history/timeline, and themes.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Microsoft Pauses MSPAC Donations until February, Promises Consequences for Some Congress Members

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Earlier this month, Microsoft paused all donations through MSPAC to political campaigns following the attack on the US Capitol. While many seen that as a good decision, it raised the question why Microsoft is making donations to PAC in the first place. Now, the company’s president and chief counsel Brad Smith has defended the MSPAC platform.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a PAC (Political Action Committee), it is a private fund for political campaigns made of voluntary donations. Almost all Fortune 500 companies have their own PAC. Laws in the United States forbid any PAC from donating more than $5,000 to one candidate through each election. Although a PAC can donate to more than one candidate.

MSPAC is Microsoft’s PAC, which over the years has made donations to candidates across the political spectrum. Microsoft says MSPAC is currently suspended as it assesses the fallout from the Capitol domestic terrorist attacks.

Some of the internal discussion within Microsoft has now been made public. Specifically, president Brad Smith defended MSPAC during an employee meeting on January 21. He says 80% of all donations from the PAC were to Congress members who voted to uphold the Electoral College and allow Joe Biden to become President of the United States.

Suspension of Donations

However, that clearly leaves 20% of donations over the four-year political term that went to Congress member who voted not to uphold the democratic process and certify Electoral College votes.

Some employees in Microsoft want the company to take harsh action against these 20% politicians. However, Microsoft is continuing to take a cautious approach and says MSPAC will remain suspendedk

, meaning it will issue no donations, until at least February 15:

“Microsoft confirmed publicly today, as it announced internally on Jan. 8, that it has halted all donations of its PAC while it reviews whether to suspend further donations to individuals who voted against certification of the Electoral College. The company added that it will announce its decision by Feb. 15 after completing discussions with its employees. As Microsoft executives have said internally to employees, this is not a normal year. The company believes that opposition to the Electoral College undermined American democracy and should have consequences.”

Microsoft speaks of consequences, but this feels like the company is simply waiting for the storm to blow over. Will MSPAC donations continues to feed any politician that Microsoft believes it can get favor from? Hopefully the company will find some integrity and take stricter actions against Congress members who sought to disrupt the democratic process.

Tip of the day:

Did you know that you can assign keyboard shortcuts for starting applications quickly in Windows 10? This is a great way to have your most used programs always at your fingertips. In our tutorials we show you how to set those hotkeys for your favorite apps.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Apple Ready to Join the VR Party with Headset Launch in 2022

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Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are technologies that promise to change our way of life. While they can be transformative in entertainment, VR and AR also open doors in industry and eventually the possibilities could be endless. The biggest names in tech are already taking VR and AR seriously, but one is conspicuous by its absence… Apple.

While giants like Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Sony, and others already have VR and AR hardware/platforms, Apple does not. Still, we are told regularly that the company is serious about the technology. We are told Apple’s advancements are at least on par with its rivals, minus the hardware.

We are told one day Apple’s developments will reach market in the form of a platform and device. A new report by Bloomberg suggests that may happen. However, it seems Apple remains in no rush to jump on board the VR train. In fact, the report says the company’s first headset will not arrive until 2022.

As we have come to expect from Cupertino, the product will be high-end. It will also reportedly be aimed at a niche market with Apple not expecting big sales. That said, the device will be consumer-focused and capable of gaming, communication, and video. Furthermore, it could also support AR in some capacity.

Is this Apple’s big play, developing a headset that is both VR and AR? We are used to Apple defining categories by making devices useful to everyday users. Combining VR and AR technology could be a major step forward.

High-End Specs

Although, the report points out AR is not the focus of the headset. Instead, VR will be the leading technology. Apple still has bigger plans for AR, including a pair of glasses that will likely arrive later.

Developed under the codename N301, Apple’s headset will be made of premium materials and could rival Microsoft’s HoloLens in terms of price ($3,500). The company will use the most powerful processors it has at its disposal and a fan to keep the device cool. Elsewhere, it is constructed of fabric materials and displays that best the resolution of any VR headset currently available.

That fan has caused some design problems, the report suggests. With a fan and high-end components, the headset is too big and uncomfortable. To save size, Apple removed compatibility for people who wear glasses.

Instead of cutting out a larger percentage of the population with that space-saving, the company has included a way to slot prescription lenses into the headset.

How this will work remains to be seen and it is worth noting we are very much in the rumor phase with this story.

Tip of the day:

Did you know you can use Windows 10´s built in antivirus Microsoft Defender also with scheduled scans? In our tutorial we give you step-by-step instructions on how to program your personal scan-schedule to keep your free of malware.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Samsung Display Advances Laptop Gaming With 90Hz OLED Screens

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Screen technology is one of the most important factors for consumers when they are buying a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. On the computing side, having a good laptop screen is a desirable spec, especially for gaming laptops. Samsung Display has revealed its plans to take laptop display technology to the next level.

Specifically, the screen-focused division of the South Korean tech giant will create 90Hz OLED panels. According to Samsung Display, these are the “world’s first” such laptop screens.

OLED is widely accepted as the leading display tech because of its excellent reproduction of blacks. However, this technology has previously been limited to 60Hz on PC. Samsung’s new OLED panels for laptops and notebooks will change that.

According to CEO Joo Sun Choi, the first panels will roll off production lines in March and will be 14-inch displays.

Important Step

This could have a big impact on Windows 10 PCs, which will not be able to have OLED panels with better performance. Especially in the gaming market, which is quickly becoming a major part of consumer Windows PC sales.

While a 60Hz refresh rate will be decent for many games, the evolution to faster frequencies is well underway. In fact, most gamers will already have monitors capable of 120H or 144Hz. However, for laptops, those kinds of refresh rates for OLED screens are off limits at the moment.

Yes, 90Hz is not as high as a dedicated monitor, but it will provide a solid display performance for what is essentially portable PC gaming. Samsung Display has yet to say when it ramp up production to include other screen sizes, but a wider product line through 2021 seems likely.

Tip of the day:

Did you know you can use Windows 10´s built in antivirus Microsoft Defender also with scheduled scans? In our tutorial we give you step-by-step instructions on how to program your personal scan-schedule to keep your free of malware.

Source Winbuzzer

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Business Technology

Microsoft Sysmon 13 Brings Ability to Detect Process Herpaderping

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Microsoft Sysmon users are getting a new update this week as part as a wider release for the Sysinternals suite. Specifically, the utility is gaining the ability to detect Process Hollowing attacks and Process Herpaderping.

If you’re unfamiliar with Sysinternals, it is a suite of applications for admins that allows them to debug Windows machines. Furthermore, users can tap into the tool to find and investigate malware attacks.

Microsoft Sysmon (System Monitor) is one of the tools with Sysinternals, joining over 160 other applications. It is perhaps the most popular app in the suite that logs system level events on a Windows computer.

These events are logged within the regular Windows event log. For example, it can log network connections, changes to files, and new processes. Many security teams use Sysmon as part of their threat mitigation arsenal, so adding two new abilities is a major update.

Specifically, Sysmon can now detect two process attacks (Hollowing and Herpaderping) that are designed to avoid detection.

Now Available

The new tools are part of Microsoft Sysmon 13.00. When a Hollowing or Herpaderping attack is found, the tool will now log this malware attack. Both process attacks are filed under “EventID 25” in the system log.

 

Process Herpaderping is a new technique that focuses on preventing detection. It can obscure and hide the true intentions of a process by changing the content on a disk. This happens when the image has been mapped.

In a recent tweet, Microsoft’s Mark Russinovich previewed both Sysmon logs with the EventID 25 log warning. That tweet arrived last November as a teaser, but Microsoft is now rolling out the ability to Sysmon 13.00 within Sysinternals.

Tip of the day:

Do you know the built-in repair tools SFC and DISM of Windows 10? With many problems they can get you back on track without loosing data and using third-party programs. In out tutorial we show you how to use them.

Source Winbuzzer

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