Windows 10 users be cautious – some default apps are showing scam adverts

Windows 10 continues to be struck with a worrying condition in that a number of its core (installed automatically) apps are displaying fraudulent adverts that could potentially play all sorts of nasty tricks on the user.

As spotted by Ghacks and first highlighted on Microsoft’s German support site, a post has since appeared on the US website clarifying the issue that affects apps including Microsoft News and Weather, and possibly other applications or indeed Microsoft services (MSN Cash is also mentioned).

These malicious banner adverts are now being erroneously acquired by Microsoft’s ad servers and presented to the consumer. They contain some kind of bait to get the user to click them, either claiming that the PC is infected with viruses, or suggesting you have won a lottery.

If clicked, they will take you with a malicious site which will seemingly try to sell a ??cure’ for that (non-existent) virus, drop malware in your machine (or maybe both), or carry out some other type of nefarious activity.

A Microsoft moderator notes: “The fake virus warnings eventually direct to a download page for Reimage Repair, which is indexed by Microsoft as potentially unwanted application (PUA) although not detected as malware by Windows Defender at this time.

“A scan from the downloaded file at VirusTotal indicates nine different antivirus/antimalware programs detect it as being malware and some may block the download or perhaps the landing page for the download.”

Normally, these sorts of malicious ads ought to be policed and stripped out of Microsoft’s ad serving network, but evidently these rogue banner advertising are slipping through the net somehow.

Countermeasures such as Windows Defender SmartScreen should still block these, but as Microsoft notes, SmartScreen isn’t recognizing all of the current malicious adverts out there, same with neglecting to defend against some of them.

Close and don’t click

The upshot is when you utilize these core Microsoft apps and see any suspicious adverts, be careful not to click them. All that you should do is close your window providing the ad, and that should be the end of it, Microsoft advises.

It’s possible for that more tech-savvy to block these ads at the DNS level, as Microsoft Support explains, “for example via a central ad blocker in the network just like a Pihole, you should block the following pages: * / * / *”.

Otherwise, the only thing to do is hold back until Microsoft gets on the case and blocks the ad operators from running these banner adverts, which you’d hope will happen sooner rather than later.

One of the major reasons to upgrade to Windows 10, obviously, would be that the newest OS comes to be safer than Windows 7/Windows 8.1, so glitches in the default operating system’s apps are a bit embarrassing for Microsoft to say the least.

Windows 10 Version 1903 Not Yet Number 1 But Slowly Getting There

Windows 10 version 1903, or even the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, isn’t yet the number 1 form of the operating system, but it’s slowly getting there, based on a new set of data supplied by AdDuplex.

At this time, Windows 10 April 2019 Update (version 1803) remains the top option for Windows 10 users, holding to the leading spot with a share of 53.7%. Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) is the runner-up with 29.7%, accompanied by the May update with 11.4% share.

Given the quantity of bugs in the October update, this particular version did not take over the initial place, as the latest releases typically require a few months with this achievement. However, many users delayed the upgrade and remained on the April 2018 Update until the May 2019 Update shipped, skipping the October update altogether.

Phased rollout of version 1903 continues

AdDuplex says this really is no longer happening because of the debut of the May update, as numerous users now upgrade for this new edition.

“Windows 10 May 2019 Update (1903) has gained another 5% since recently and is now on 11.4% of more than 100,000 PCs surveyed,” the organization explains.

What’s more, Windows 10 version 1903 appears to be eating up the share of the April update, based on the stats.

“Interestingly, the majority of this growth appears to be originating from users upgrading from April 2018 Update (1803) as October 18 Update (1809) is hovering around 30% steadily,” AdDuplex notes.

Microsoft presenting the May update being an automatic download to devices still running Windows 10 version 1803, because the support for this particular release is coming to a finish within the fall.

However, the May update is yet to achieve traction, and it’s pretty clear that Microsoft uses a very cautious approach. The phased rollout continues, and advanced users can download the brand new version by manually checking for updates in Windows Update.

WhatsApp Could Soon Allow Utilizing the same Account on Multiple Devices

WhatsApp is considered to be focusing on a major update that will allow users to enable exactly the same account (with similar telephone number) on more than just one device.

At this point, if you activate one WhatsApp account linked to a particular phone number on a single device, the rest of the cases of the service are automatically blocked. In other words, you can just use WhatsApp on a single mobile device as well as on your PC with the dedicated apps or WhatsApp Web within the browser.

However this could all change very soon, according to a rumor posted by WABetaInfo, as WhatsApp could be focusing on another system that will have the ability to enable and use exactly the same account on not only one device.

WhatsApp is currently developing dedicated apps for Windows 10 that would enable PC users to talk around the messaging service without an active link with laptop computer. This means that a brand new WhatsApp session on the same telephone number would be activated on the pc, so even when your phone no longer has a web connection, you should still be in a position to send and receive messages around the desktop.

Multiple devices per each account

This will make WhatsApp Web and dedicated desktop apps a bit redundant, albeit they might prove useful on devices in which the new Windows 10 UWP app is not installed. There’s not sure on such capabilities visiting macOS for the moment.

WhatsApp Web functions by syncing using the cell phone, therefore it needs an active Internet connection on the mobile device.

Thanks to the new system, WhatsApp will push sent and received messages to any or all devices configured for a specific account, so that you can, for example, start chatting on a single tool and continue where you left off on another. This is supported on both Android and iOS (an iPad form of WhatsApp with such features can also be within the works, it appears), so messages is going to be synced across both platforms, making the migration in one to a different easier.

No ETA continues to be provided for the time being, however it looks like WhatsApp has worked on this feature for quite a while, so a possible release by the end of the entire year wouldn’t necessarily be surprising.

Windows 10 Cumulative Update KB4505903 Introduces an unexpected Browser Change

Microsoft is working at full speed on obtaining the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser ready for prime time, and that we recently discovered evidence that the stable build could land in the spring of 2020.

Until that happens, however, Microsoft has already been making a series of changes that may be paving the way for the debut of a new browser.

The most recent cumulative update shipped by Microsoft to Windows insiders within the Release Preview ring reportedly hides the icon from the original Microsoft Edge when the new Chromium preview builds are installed.

Quite simply, should you run Canary and Dev fitted 10 tool and install cumulative update KB4505903, then the native Microsoft Edge version might be taken off the Start menu and search results.

Native Edge removed from Start menu

However, as WL notes, this doesn’t mean the browser is fully uninstalled in the system. You can still type “microsoft-edge” within the run dialog on Windows 10 to fire up, but other than that, the native browser may be rather hard to locate in the operating system.

The change appears to be part of the second form of cumulative update KB4505903 – the first build was published a week ago, also for testers within the Release Preview ring. This revision, however, comes without a changelog, but judging from today’s report, its purpose would be to introduce this browser change.

The biggest question at this time is whether or not Microsoft intends to make use of a similar method for production devices running Windows 10 May 2019 Update or not.

Cumulative update KB4505903 is expected to roll out for everybody on Windows 10 version 1903 within the coming days after the testing within the Release Preview ring is finished. After installing this cumulative update, the build number is increased to 18362.266.

How to locate Your Windows 10 Account’s SID

A finding that’s making the rounds nowadays reveals that Microsoft Edge (the version that is offered natively on Windows 10) sends URL information to Microsoft when SmartScreen is enabled, together with your account’s security identifier (SID).

SmartScreen is a feature that’s designed to protect Windows users by comparing an URL they struggle to load in the default browser against a listing maintained by Microsoft.

If the URL is flagged as dangerous, users get to see an alert, and if it’s not, the page can somewhat be loaded in the browser with no notification on user’s side.

The more worrying discovery, however, is the fact that Microsoft includes the SID within this report. Since the SID is unique and is linked to a Windows 10 account, it could be feasible for Microsoft to inform who visits what when browsing the net.

Microsoft says the following concerning the SID:

“A security identifier (SID) can be used to uniquely identify a security principal or security group. Security principals can represent any entity that can be authenticated through the operating system, like a user account, a computer account, or a thread or procedure that runs within the security context of the user or computer account.”

SIDs are unique for every account, so there can’t be two similar identifiers on the same device.

“Each account or group, or process running in the security context of the account, includes a unique SID that is from an expert, such as a Windows domain controller. It’s kept in a security database. The machine generates the SID that identifies a specific account or group at that time the account or group is created. Whenever a SID has been used as the unique identifier for any user or group, it may not be recycled to identify another user or group.”

While the SID can’t be found in Settings on a Windows 10 device, it’s actually simple to decipher it, also it all comes down to just a single command that you can use in Command Prompt.

First of all, you need to launch an elevated Command Prompt session, that is an instance of the command line utility launched with administrator rights. To get this done, click the Start menu and kind cmd.exe. Next, right-click the result and choose Run as administrator.

In Command Prompt, you should utilize the next command to determine the SIDs for those user accounts in your device:

WMIC useraccount get name,sid

You should now visit a list of all user accounts on your device, with their associated SIDs. Those long numbers displayed within the list in Command Prompt are the security identifiers, and you can copy all of them with a mouse selection if you want to save them elsewhere.

As the aforementioned command displays the SIDs for all user accounts around the device, you can view the security identifier for just one account having a different command. However, what this means is you understanding the username. The command is this one:

useraccount where name=”username” get sid

What you need to do is to switch the username tag (the main one in bold) using the actual name of the user account. Make sure you jot it down correctly because otherwise, the command would fail to return any improvements.

There are some other methods to see the SIDs on the Windows device, including while using Registry Editor, however this one right here is really the simplest for all users. It ought to technically work on all Windows 10 versions, regardless of the SKU that is placed on the device.

Microsoft Edge Said to Be Sending Full URLs from the Sites You Trip to Microsoft

The original form of Microsoft Edge currently coming pre-installed on Windows 10 is sending the full URL of the sites you trip to Microsoft, according to a security researcher.

The information includes not just page information, but the SID, which stands for security identifier, researcher Matt Weeks says on Twitter.

“Edge apparently sends the full Link to pages you visit (minus several popular sites) to Microsoft. And, in contrast to documentation, includes your very non-anonymous account ID (SID),” he posted.

Microsoft utilizes a feature called SmartScreen to protect users against very damaging websites whenever they are loaded in the browser. SmartScreen works by analyzing the URL against a list of reported links maintained by Microsoft, therefore the page you visit is submitted to a Microsoft server to find out if the site should be allowed or otherwise.

SID possibly exposed

Weeks, however, learned that the sent information, which doesn’t appear to be hashed, includes the SID. Microsoft says the following about the SID in the official documentation:

“A security identifier (SID) can be used to uniquely identify a security principal or security group. Security principals can represent any entity that may be authenticated by the operating-system, such as a user account, a computer account, or perhaps a thread or process that runs in the security context of a user or computer account.”

In theory, by including the SID in the report, Microsoft will easily notice who visits what when SmartScreen is enabled in Windows 10. Automatically, SmartScreen for Microsoft Edge is configured with the “Warn” setting on the Windows 10 device.

Microsoft, however, admits in its privacy statement that some good info is indeed listed in the company in order to power SmartScreen, due to the fact this is the way the feature works.

“When checking a file, data about that file is distributed to Microsoft, such as the file name, a hash from the file’s contents, the download location, and the file’s digital certificates,” Microsoft says.

The researcher, however, shows that this system might be improved using an approach similar to the one utilized by other browsers.

“Firefox, Chrome, and Safari do not send your browsing history for their cloud overlords like Edge does. They compare 4-byte URL hash prefixes with downloaded bad hash lists,” he states.

Microsoft is yet to reply to these concerns with an official statement, but we’ve reached to the organization and can update the article if an answer is offered.

Windows 10 Cumulative Update KB4505903 Brings 20H1 Feature to Version 1903

Microsoft could bring a feature originally produced for Windows 10 20H1 towards the latest stable build of the operating system.

A lot of changes to Windows Ink Workspace were announced as part of Windows 10 build 18912, with Microsoft explaining that it’s redesigning the UI to enhance usability.

“Windows Ink Workspace is smaller having a direct link to our Microsoft Whiteboard app, offering you rich ideation and collaboration capabilities. If you used Sketchpad, don’t worry. We managed to save the sketch you had been working on (in your Pictures folder). In addition, the Windows Ink Workspace allows you to quickly capture your screen and annotate it with the improved Snip and Sketch app. We heard your feedback and we have streamlined the Windows Ink Workspace for you,” Dona Sarkar, head from the Windows Insider program, explained.

Windows 10 20H1 due early in the year

While Windows 10 20H1 is projected to be released in the spring of 2020 with these Windows Ink Workspace improvements built-in, it now appears like exactly the same refinements could make their way to Windows 10 version 1903 too.

Windows 10 version 1903, or Windows 10 May 2019 Update, is the latest stable discharge of Windows 10.

Microsoft has reportedly started testing the same Windows Ink Workspace improvements on Windows 10 version 1903 using the release of cumulative update KB4505903, which was pushed to insiders within the Release Preview ring a week ago.

The software giant is yet to confirm that it’s bringing these improvements to Windows 10 version 1903 too.

Meanwhile, we should still watch for the official announcement, because the Release Preview ring can be used by Microsoft for testing purposes, so there’s a little chance the company can always remove the new Windows Ink Workspace tweaks from the next cumulative update for production devices.

Microsoft Releases Microsoft Edge Update with Dark Mode on Windows 7 and 8.1

Microsoft has released a new Dev version of its Chromium-based browser, which time users on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 are the type benefiting from very exciting improvements.

Using the update to version, Microsoft Edge Dev receives a couple of features that have previously been tested included in the Canary build, and these include choices to set text size and background theme in Reading View because of a new flag.

However, the highlight is without a doubt support for any dark mode on Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1, so if you’re still running one of these versions, you ought to be able to change to the brand new theme in the settings screen.

Originally, the dark theme was implemented in Windows 10 and followed system settings, but the browser can now be set for this visual style whatever the configuration within the operating-system.

Resolving the crashes

This new Dev build also has a bunch of other fixes, and you can check the full release notes in the box following the jump.

However, there are lots of fixes for crashes that occurred in the browser, including around the extensions page, in API keys, or when opening PDFs. Microsoft says the browser should no longer close unexpectedly when using the sync service or due to a cached call in renderer.

On Windows 10, Dev tools in Microsoft Edge now support the OS theme color within the operating system, so it can adapt to your visual configuration.

Bear in mind, however, that even though the browser just get more and more refinements with every release, it’s still a work happening, so some features might not work just as anticipated. There’s no ETA regarding when it’s designed to get to the stable build, however, albeit it’s expected to be installed automatically on Windows 10 using the 20H1 update early in the year of 2020.

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Cumulative Updates KB4507466, KB4507465, KB4507467

Microsoft has released the normal non-security batch of cumulative updates for Windows 10, however this time only older versions from the operating-system are becoming the improvements.

These cumulative updates are aimed at Windows 10 April 2018 Update (version 1803) and former releases. Windows 10 October 2018 Update (version 1809) and could 2019 Update (version 1903) aren’t included in this cumulative update rollout.

Most likely, both Windows 10 version 1809 and 1903 will get new cumulative updates within the future before the end of the month.

What’s important to know is the fact that in the patched versions of Windows 10, just the April 2018 Update is still supported for Home and Pro SKUs. Older versions are just serviced for Enterprise and Education SKUs so that as part of the Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC).

Important bug fixes

Fundamental essentials Windows 10 versions getting patched and the cumulative updates they received on July 16:
Windows 10 version 1803: KB4507466 (OS Build 17134.915)
Windows 10 version 1709: KB4507465 (OS Build 16299.1296)
Windows 10 version 1703: KB4507467 (OS Build 15063.1955)
Windows 10 version 1607: KB4507459 (OS Build 14393.3115)

When you can check out the changelogs in full in the box after the jump, the Windows 10 version 1803 cumulative update brings two notable fixes for a screen reader bug and app permissions. The next two lines are contained in the release notes:

“Addresses a problem with opening or while using Window-Eyes screen reader application that may result in a mistake and prevent some features from functioning not surprisingly.

Addresses an issue that may neglect to keep App permissions settings when you select Keep my files after selecting Reset this PC.”

These cumulative updates are now available from Windows Update and also the Microsoft Update Catalog, and you may have them simply by checking for updates in Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Look for updates.

Windows 7 Enters the final 6 months of Support

Windows 7 has officially entered the final 6 months of support, as the 2009 operating-system is projected to become retired on January 14, 2020.

Windows 7, which remains the second most-used desktop operating-system worldwide, reached the end of mainstream support on January 13, 2015 for devices in which the Service Pack 1 was installed.

Without SP1, Windows 7 no longer receives support since April 9, 2013.

However, Windows 7 Service Pack 1 continues to be serviced with security updates included in Microsoft’s extended support, albeit these updates don’t include any new features.

Once Windows 7 SP1 also reaches the end of extended support on January 14, 2020, the operating system could be officially listed as retired, and therefore no patches would continue to be offered to devices running it.

Companies and organizations worldwide can buy custom support for Windows 7, with Microsoft servicing computers still running the OS with different fee for every PC.

Second most-used desktop OS

According to third-party data supplied by NetMarketShare, Windows 7 remains probably the most popular selections for desktop users.

While Windows 10 is currently the very best option with a market share of 45.79%, Windows 7 remains the runner-up without any less than 35.38% share for that month of June. All the other OS versions for that PC are far behind, with macOS 10.14, for example, securing the third spot with a share of 5.31%.

There’s a big chance that Windows 7 would keep going on a substantial quantity of devices when the January 14, 2020 milestone is reached, which is worrying for Microsoft and users considering that scalping strategies would no longer receive security patches.

Windows 10 is actually the recommended choice for those who choose to upgrade, albeit Windows 8.1 remains serviced too.