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Cyber Criminals Attack Nearly 10,000 Microsoft Customers

“ElectionGuard” is free and open-source and will be available through the repository GitHub as a software development kit (SDK) later this year

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FILE - A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

Microsoft has notified nearly 10,000 customers in the past year who were targeted or compromised by nation-state attacks originating from three countries — Iran, North Korea and Russia.

According to Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President for Consumer Security and Trust at Microsoft, 84 per cent of these attacks targeted its enterprise customers, and about 16 per cent targeted consumer personal email accounts.

“While many of these attacks are unrelated to the democratic process, this data demonstrates the significant extent to which nation-states continue to rely on cyber attacks as a tool to gain intelligence, influence geopolitics or achieve other objectives,” Burt said in a blog post late on Wednesday.

The company has seen extensive activity from the actors it calls Holmium and Mercury operating from Iran, Thallium operating from North Korea, and two actors operating from Russia it calls Yttrium and Strontium.

“This data has been compiled by the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center which works every day to track these global threats,” said Burt.

Since the launch of Microsoft “AccountGuard” last August, the company has uncovered attacks specifically targeting organisations that are fundamental to democracy.

“We have steadily expanded AccountGuard, our threat notification service for political campaigns, parties, and democracy-focused non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to include 26 countries across four continents.”

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FILE – Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

Microsoft has made 781 notifications of nation-state attacks targeting organisations participating in AccountGuard.

This data shows that democracy-focused organisations in the US should be particularly concerned as 95 per cent of these attacks have targeted US-based organisations. Many of the democracy-focused attacks target NGOs and think tanks.

“As we head into the 2020 elections, we anticipate that we will see attacks targeting US election systems, political campaigns or NGOs that work closely with campaigns,” warned Microsoft.

Also Read: Samsung Galaxy Note May not Feature Snapdragon 855 Plus Chip

The company demonstrated the first voting system running Microsoft ElectionGuard technology at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, on Wednesday.

“ElectionGuard can enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting. It is also possible to make voting more accessible for people with disabilities and more affordable for local governments while increasing security,” said Burt.

“ElectionGuard” is free and open-source and will be available through the repository GitHub as a software development kit (SDK) later this year. (IANS)

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Latest Microsoft Update Slows Some Surface Devices to 400MHz

We experienced these issues on a Surface Pro 6 device, and the problems could be related to certain router combinations, the TechCrunch reported

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FILE - A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

Some Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and Surface Book 2 devices are throttling down to crippling low speeds of 400MHz, post the new firmware update that was rolled out on August 1.

The throttle-lock appears to be caused by an Intel CPU flag called BD PROCHOT (bi-directional processor hot), which can be set by any peripheral, telling the processor to throttle down to decrease system temperature, a report in the Tech Republic said on Thursday.

The issues were flagged by several users on Reddit.

However, along with the CPU issues, Microsoft’s latest firmware updates have been causing Wi-Fi issues for several users.

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

Surface Book and Surface Pro 6 owners have complained on Microsoft’s support forums that the latest Marvel Wi-Fi driver, supplied with Microsoft’s Surface firmware updates on August 1, is not allowing devices to connect to some 5GHz wireless networks.

We experienced these issues on a Surface Pro 6 device, and the problems could be related to certain router combinations, the TechCrunch reported.

Also Read: Google Rolling out a Major Chrome OS Update

“If you have Wi-Fi issues on a Surface device since the updates earlier this month, you can simply roll back the driver in device manager, which will restore access to 5GHz networks. A Microsoft volunteer moderator claims the company is ‘working on an update’,” the TechCrunch report added. (IANS)