Archive for March, 2016

Yet another harsh lesson for people who click things they shouldn’t.

A new type of malware has been described, one that takes crypto-extortion to a new level. While most cryptographic ransomware variants are selective about what they encrypt—leaving the computer usable to make it easier for the victim to pay—this new entry targets the victim’s entire startup drive, encrypting the master file table (MFT).

Called Petya, the new ransomware is just the latest ransomware deliberately tailored for victims within organizations with IT support instead of a broader audience. As BleepingComputer’s Lawrence Abrams documented, Petya is currently being delivered via Dropbox links in e-mail messages targeting human resources departments at companies in Germany. The links are purported to be to an application to be installed by the HR employee.

Running the attachment throws up a Windows alert; if the user clicks to continue, Petya is inserted into the master boot record (MBR) of the victim’s computer, and the system restarts. On reboot, the malware performs a fake Windows CHKDSK, warning “One of your disks contains errors and needs to be repaired,” Petya then flashes up an ASCII skull and crossbones on a red and white screen, announcing “You became victim of the PETYA RANSOMWARE!”

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Yes, bash is coming to Windows. (credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft built a Linux subsystem for Windows for Project Astoria, its system for running Android apps on Windows 10 Mobile.

But in February the company confirmed that Astoria was dead, as it rather undermined the Universal Windows Platform concept. At the time, we speculated that portions of Astoria might live on, as portions of it had mysteriously started showing up in Windows Insider Previews. And today, that has come to pass, with Microsoft saying that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update will include the ability to run the popular bash shell from Unix, along with the rest of a typical Unix command-line environment.

We’re still trying to get the inside story on what Microsoft has done here, but what we’ve known for several months now is that the company has developed some Windows kernel components (lxcore.sys, lxss.sys, presumably standing for “Linux core” and “Linux subsystem,” respectively) that support the major Linux kernel APIs. These components are not GPLed and do not appear to contain Linux code themselves; instead, they implement the Linux kernel API using the native Windows NT API that the Windows kernel provides. Microsoft is calling this the “Windows Subsystem for Linux” (WSL).

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Microsoft’s Terry Myerson details the WIndows 10 Anniversary Update. (credit: Microsoft)

SAN FRANCISCO—Windows 10 was the focus of Microsoft’s day one keynote at its annual Build developer conference. Today, the company announced an update that’ll ship this summer called the “Anniversary Update.”

The company led by talking about the adoption of Windows 10. After its first eight months on the market, there are now 270 million Windows 10 users. This is immensely fast for a new Windows version, with Microsoft claiming that Windows 10 adoption has outpaced Windows 7 adoption by 145 percent.

Still, Microsoft has a long way to go to hit its target of 1 billion Windows users within two years of launch. Windows 10 will continue to be a free update for Windows 7 and 8 users for another 4 months, after which time anyone on those operating systems will, in principle, be required to pay. We can well imagine that Microsoft will extend the promotion in some way, but the company hasn’t announced any plans to do so just yet.

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In his final column, Nick Bilton reflects on the pros and cons of things like social networks and driverless cars, as well as their human side.

The program, Expa Labs, will take a smaller-scale approach to helping start-ups grow from idea to prototype to marketable product.

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