Wednesday Newsbytes: Microsoft Defender Goes Crazy Deletes Taskbar, Experian Hacked Again, Hackers Use Google Ads to Steal Your Money, Get Amazon Gift Cards for Old Electronics, The Zombie Fungus is Real…and more!

By | January 18, 2023
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Wednesday Newsbytes: Microsoft Defender Goes Crazy Deletes Taskbar, Experian Hacked Again, Hackers Use Google Ads to Steal Your Money, Get Amazon Gift Cards for Old Electronics, The Zombie Fungus is Real…and more!

Every day we scan the tech world for interesting news in the world of technology and sometimes from outside the world of technology. Every Wednesday, we feature news articles that grabbed our attention over the past week. We hope you find this week’s  ‘Wednesday Newsbytes’ informative and interesting!

Microsoft Defender goes haywire, deletes Start menu icon, Taskbar and more

An update to Microsoft Defender has deleted a bunch of users’ shortcuts

A recent update to Microsoft Defender has led some Windows users to lose shortcuts to their programs.

The bizarre issue resulted in Windows icons and applications shortcuts being removed from the Taskbar and Start Menu without any warning.

Both Windows 10 and Windows 11 users appear to have been affected, with the antivirus program causing issues for customers across the world.

Microsoft Defender ASR issue

Though apparently just some shortcuts have been affected, and not the actual apps, plenty of users are complaining about the timeliness of the error: Friday 13.

Many of whom have taken to online threads like Reddit(opens in new tab) and Microsoft’s Tech Community(opens in new tab) to complain.

One Reddit user explains that the Start menu is also affected: “I can’t open firefox by using the windows key and typing the name i have to go to program files”.

Microsoft issued a statement(opens in new tab) that reads: “Windows Security and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint customers may have experienced a series of false positive detections for the Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) rule “Block Win32 API calls from Office macro” after updating to security intelligence builds between 1.381.2134.0 and 1.381.2163.0.”

The author continues to explain that the error is “primarily impacting Windows shortcut (.lnk) files”, and that users who have not enabled the “Block Win32 API calls from Office macro” rule should not be affected…

Read more at TechRadar.

Watch out for phishing attacks after the latest credit breach

Have your name, address, birthday, and Social Security number been leaked onto the web before? You should probably be on alert.

Experian, one of the biggest consumer credit reporting bureaus, likely put your full credit history into the hands of identity thieves last year. On Monday, news broke of a major flaw in the company’s website, which allowed anyone with your name, address, birthdate, and Social Security number to bypass a security check and get to your report.

First discovered by security researcher Jenya Kushnir, the exploit had an unknown duration and was only patched in late December 2022—seemingly after Brian Krebs of Krebs on Security, having been notified by Kushnir about the issue, brought it to Experian’s attention. (You can read the full details in Kreb’s post about the matter.)

Given how many data breaches have leaked all the information needed by identity thieves (including the massive 2017 Equifax hack), you can now assume your private financial info is out on the web. Accordingly, you’ll want to be on guard against even more clever phishing scams in the future—the kind meant to disarm you with info you might assume only a legitimate source would have.

The good news is that your existing protective measures against phishing still apply here—you can look over our guide to the important basics if you need a refresher. But in the wake of this Experian leak, you should pay extra attention in a few specific situations…

Read more at PC World.

Hackers using Google Ads to steal your info and drain your accounts — what you need to know

Cybercriminals often have to devise new tactics to deliver their malicious payloads to unsuspecting users which is why they’re now abusing Google Ads to distribute a dangerous new infostealer malware.

According to a new report (opens in new tab) from the cybersecurity firm Cyble, its security researchers recently discovered a new malware strain named Rhadamanthys after the wise king of Crete from Greek mythology.

At the same time, Rhadamanthys is also being spread through spam emails which contain a malicious PDF file about an unpaid statement. However, these emails are being used to target businesses while the fake Google Ads used in this campaign are aimed at consumers trying to download popular software.

Abusing Google ads to spread malware

When you search Google, the most relevant results are displayed at the top of the page but sometimes, an ad can appear above the search results. In this situation, you have to scroll further down the page to find a company’s actual website…

Read more at Tom’s Guide.

How to recycle your old electronics into Amazon gift cards

Did you know Amazon’s Trade-In Program can turn your unwanted gadgets into gift cards?

With the holiday season behind us, you may be enjoying some new gadgets. But, what do you do with the old ones?

Unless you have someone to pass them on to, or you’re saving them as memorabilia — or in hopes that something will spike in extrinsic value — you’re better off trading in those dust-collecting electronics for recycling while earning some money back in return.

It’s also a satisfying, hassle-free way to get rid of old electronics at no cost.

How to use Amazon’s Trade-In Program

Let me set things straight: There are plenty of other trade-in services out there, many of which will probably yield higher rates of return and accept a greater variety of products and brands than Amazon’s. But the advantages of using Amazon’s program are the hassle-free shipping process, in-store discounts, and electronic gift cards that process directly into your account.

If that sounds good to you, here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of the service…

Read more at ZDNet.

How Did the FBI Get a Tor User’s IP Address?

The onion router is supposed to keep your web activity hidden from prying eyes. So how did the feds trace a Tor user to his grandmother’s house?

Polling the internet: what is the best way to de-anonymize a Tor user? Somebody over at the FBI definitely has a method, but they clearly aren’t planning on telling anybody anytime soon.

Motherboard originally reported that the bureau has somehow managed to nab the IP address of an alleged criminal using Tor, short for “The Onion Router,” as part of an ongoing anti-terrorism case. The guy in question, Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azhari, of Tampa, Florida, was charged in 2020 with attempting to provide material support to ISIS. According to the government, Al-Azhari is “an ISIS supporter who planned and attempted to carry out an attack on behalf of that terrorist organization.” Part of the government’s case against Al-Azhari revolves around his use of Tor to make multiple visits to an ISIS-related website prior to the planned attack.

The internet’s well-known portal to the dark web, Tor is supposed to protect your IP address and keep you anonymous as you surf. The browser encrypts a web user’s traffic and then bounces it around through a series of “relays” (also called nodes) to cover up the trail of activity. Still, Tor has been known to have vulnerabilities that can lead to de-anonymization.

All that said, it’s not exactly clear what happened here…

Read more at Gizmodo.

“The Last Of Us” Fungus Is Real, Could It Cause A Pandemic?

Time to add mushroomans to your apocalypse bingo card.

The zombie fungus has exploded out of the parasitized corpses of insects and into the world of media, having now spread its spores from gaming into television as it got the HBO treatment in The Last Of Us, which launched yesterday. The original game of the same name was inspired by none other than Sir David Attenborough, as his 2006 Planet Earth series brought the horrifying reality of Ophiocordyceps to the attention of directors Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann.

That’s right, The Last Of Us pandemic is based on a real fungus.

Ophiocordyceps is known as the zombie fungus because of the way it infects and controls its host as a parasitic fungus. Once inside, the body-snatching fungus starts to invade areas like the nervous system and actually influences its host’s behavior. Often this involves climbing to the most catastrophic vantage point, from which Ophiocordyceps’ fruiting body explodes out of the “zombie’s” body and spreads its spores.

The goal of the zombie fungus is essentially to infect as many hosts as possible, so it peppers its spores across the forest floor where it can attach to other organisms…

Read more at IFL Science.

Thanks for reading this week’s Wednesday Newbytes. We hope you found these articles informative, interesting, fun, and helpful. Darcy & TC

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