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US Court Grants Microsoft Control of 99 Hacking Websites

Websites registered and used by Phosphorus include, for example, outlook-verify.net, yahoo-verify.net, verification-live.com, and myaccount-services.net

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

A US court has granted Microsoft control of 99 websites widely associated with an Iranian group that were used to conduct hacking operations globally.

The court authorised Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) to take control of the websites belonging to the group called Phosphorus (also known as APT 35, Charming Kitten and Ajax Security Team) so that these can no longer be used to execute cyber attacks.

“Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) and the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) have been tracking Phosphorus since 2013,” said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft in a blog post late Wednesday.

Its activity is usually designed to gain access to the computer systems of businesses and government agencies and steal sensitive information.

“Its targets also include activists and journalists – especially those involved in advocacy and reporting on issues related to the Middle East,” Burt added.

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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

Phosphorus typically attempts to compromise the personal accounts of individuals through a technique known as spear-phishing, using social engineering to entice someone to click on a link, sometimes sent through fake social media accounts that appear to belong to friendly contacts.

The link contains malicious software that enables Phosphorus to access computer systems.

“Phosphorus also uses a technique, whereby it sends people an email that makes it seem as if there’s a security risk to their accounts, prompting them to enter their credentials into a web form that enables the group to capture their passwords and gain access to their systems,” Burt informed.

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Websites registered and used by Phosphorus include, for example, outlook-verify.net, yahoo-verify.net, verification-live.com, and myaccount-services.net.

“The action we executed last week enabled us to take control of 99 websites and redirect traffic from infected devices to our Digital Crime Unit’s sinkhole,” said Microsoft. (IANS)

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Amazon Alexa May Come to Windows 10’s Lock Screen

Microsoft even started testing its first 2020 Windows 10 update ahead of “19H2” code and continues to issue builds to testers

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Amazon Alexa. Flickr
Amazon Alexa. Flickr

Tech giant Microsoft would allow Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa to activate on the lock screen in the next update to Windows 10.

Microsoft’s new update follows changes to Cortana in Windows 10, as it moves to a separate app in the Microsoft Store and away from the built-in search experience in the operating system, The Verge reported on Monday.

By putting Alexa on the lock screen, a Windows 10 PC would be an Alexa smart speaker even when the PC is in sleep mode.

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The tech giant plans to implement these changes to Alexa in the code name “19H2” update which is expected to arrive in September.

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Microsoft and Amazon last year entered into a partnership to integrate Cortana and Alexa.

Microsoft even started testing its first 2020 Windows 10 update ahead of “19H2” code and continues to issue builds to testers. (IANS)