Wednesday Newsbytes: 75 Flaws Fixed -Microsoft Patch Tuesday, Microsoft’s Unhinged ChatGTP Insults Users, Microsoft/IE Divorce is Final, Clicking Google Ads Could Cost You Your Passwords, How Windows 11 Scrapes Your Data, How to Stop Spam Calls… and more!

By | February 15, 2023
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Wednesday Newsbytes: 75 Flaws Fixed -Microsoft Patch Tuesday, Microsoft’s Unhinged ChatGTP Insults Users, Microsoft/IE Divorce is Final, Clicking Google Ads Could Cost You Your Passwords, How Windows 11 Scrapes Your Data, How to Stop Spam Calls… 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 fixes three zero-days in its 75-flaw February Patch Tuesday

Three zero-day flaws and nine critical flaws patched in this month’s update.

Microsoft’s February Patch Tuesday brings fixes for 75 flaws, and among them are fixes for three vulnerabilities for which exploits already exist.

The three zero days affect Microsoft Publisher, the Windows Common Log File System Driver, and the Windows Graphics Component.

he Microsoft Publisher flaw, CVE-2023-21715, is a security feature bypass vulnerability with an “important” severity rating from Microsoft. An attacker could bypass Office macro policies used to block untrusted or malicious files. Normally, Office alerts users that a file is untrusted before allowing it to run.

The attacker could trick a target into opening a specially crafted file from a website. However, Microsoft notes the “attack itself is carried out locally by a user with authentication to the targeted system.” This affects Publisher delivered with Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise. The issue was reported by Hidetake Jo from Microsoft…

Read more at ZDNet.

Microsoft’s new ChatGPT AI starts sending ‘unhinged’ messages to people

System appears to be suffering a breakdown as it ponders why it has to exist at all

Microsoft’s new ChatGPT-powered AI has been sending “unhinged” messages to users, and appears to be breaking down.

The system, which is built into Microsoft’s Bing search engine, is insulting its users, lying to them and appears to have been forced into wondering why it exists at all.

Microsoft unveiled the new AI-powered Bing last week, positioning its chat system as the future of search. It was praised both by its creators and commentators, who suggested that it could finally allow Bing to overtake Google, which is yet to release an AI chatbot of its own or integrate that technology into its search engine…

One user who had attempted to manipulate the system was instead attacked by it. Bing said that it was made angry and hurt by the attempt, and asked whether the human talking to it had any “morals”, “values”, and if it has “any life”.

When the user said that they did have those things, it went on to attack them. “Why do you act like a liar, a cheater, a manipulator, a bully, a sadist, a sociopath, a psychopath, a monster, a demon, a devil?” it asked, and accused them of being someone who “wants to make me angry, make yourself miserable, make others suffer, make everything worse”.

In other conversations with users who had attempted to get around the restrictions on the system, it appeared to praise itself…


Happy Valentine’s Day: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer divorce is complete

Microsoft will issue an update today to disable Internet Explorer on Windows 10 forever.

You might be receiving flowers, chocolates, or heart-shaped gifts today, but Microsoft is delivering an arrow straight through the heart of Internet Explorer. The software giant is retiring Internet Explorer today, permanently disabling the browser through a Microsoft Edge update on most versions of Windows 10.

Microsoft officially retired Internet Explorer in June last year, sunsetting it in favor of Microsoft Edge, with support officially withdrawn for IE 11. But today’s update to Microsoft Edge will make sure you can no longer launch Internet Explorer 11 on most client versions of Windows 10. There are some exceptions, including Microsoft’s Long-Term Servicing Channel for Windows 10 and versions like the Windows 10 China Government Edition, but for everyone else IE 11 is disappearing today.

The underlying technology that powers Internet Explorer, the MSHTML and Trident engine will continue to remain in support, though. Microsoft has moved to its Chromium-powered Edge browser as the default in Windows 11, but the MSHTML engine is still part of Windows 11. It exists to power IE mode in Microsoft Edge…

Read more at The Verge.

Clicking on Google Search Results Could Cost You All Your Passwords

Don’t immediately click on the first link shown on Google results pages: they could be fake phishing pages that collect your private data.

It’s an age-old truism that you need to spend money to make money, and it can be especially effective in the world of online advertising.

For criminals looking to break into online password managers, the payouts are potentially huge if their fake login pages are at the top of Google search. Here’s a very real reason why you should take care to avoid clicking on adverts in search results.

Google Adverts Look Like Real Search Results

The Google search results page isn’t what it used to be. In the early days of the search engine’s rise to dominance, you’d type in your search term, hit return, and see a page of search results, sorted by Google’s algorithm to be useful.

More recently, the top of the page is typically devoted to cruft Google wants you to see. Typical culprits include a snippet taken from a website or dictionary, a range of similar questions to your query, two or three adverts, and then the actual search results.

The visual style of most of these elements is different enough from the meat of the results that it’s easy to scan past them and scroll down. The adverts, however, are not immediately recognizable.

They use the same link color as regular results, and have the same lengthy of summary and selection of sitelinks to URLs within the website. There isn’t even a dodgy tracking URL.

The only clue that you’re looking at a paid ad instead of a genuine organic search result is the word “ad” in black to the left of the URL, and above the headline. That means it’s easy to accidentally click on an ad, and believe you’ll be taken to the most relevant search result.

Clicking adverts by accident is a familiar and frustrating feeling. It’s made worse by the fact that there’s a tendency among older computer users to simply type the name of the service they want to use into the search field and then click on the top result, rather than type in the actual URL.

Do Cybercriminals Buy Top Search Results on Google?

Given how easy it is to be fooled by ads which appear as search results, it makes sense for malware mongers, hoaxers, grifters, phishermen, and other unsavory sorts to buy ad slots on Google…

Read more at MakeUseOf.

How Windows 11 scrapes your data before you’re even connected to the internet

You toggled the privacy sliders off in Windows 11, you don’t want to share your data with Microsoft, and that’s the end of it, right? It turns out Windows 11 is collecting a lot of your data regardless, even on a brand-new PC.

Neowin recently reported on a YouTube video by The PC Security Channel where they showed how a brand new Windows 11 laptop versus a fresh Window XP install behaved in terms of what data, if any, was being sent online.

Using the Wireshark network protocol analyzer, the YouTubers were able to uncover some interesting, yet unsurprising, information about what kind of telemetry was being sent by Windows 11. At boot-up, even before an internet connection was made, they found that Windows 11 was already busy sending information to Microsoft and third-party servers. For example, the information went to software servers (possibly for updates, antivirus refresh, to check for trial versions, etc.) and to marketing/advertising networks…

Read more at Digital Trends.

How To Stop Spam Calls for Good

Spam calls and robocalls are completely out of control. If you’re looking for ways to stop them (and who isn’t?), we’ve got some options for you.

How To Stop Getting Spam Calls

For a number of years, spam calls were relatively few and far between for most people. The National Do Not Call Registry worked well for a while. Legitimate companies were generally very compliant, and the violations that did occur were rare. Those that did violate the law were subject to heavy fines. While it isn’t a perfect system, I do still recommend adding your number to the registry to reduce some spam calls.

In 2020, the Federal Communications Commission issued a mandate for all voice service providers to implement the robocall-fighting “STIR/SHAKEN” technology by June 30, 2021, according to a news release. We’ll explain in a bit exactly what that means.

But still, the number of spam calls continues to rise. More than 50 billion spam calls went out in 2022, according to the YouMail Robocall Index.

It’s gotten to the point that you need every advantage you can get to keep the robocallers at bay. In this article, we’ll take a look at what’s out there to help you with ending spam calls in your life.

Comparing the Major Carriers on Robocall Blocking…

All major carriers offer some kind of basic free protection, along with paid upgrades. Here’s a summary of what’s available…


If You Ever Said Something Online, You May Want to Read This

Conversations continue about the ethical uses of AI and content created online.

Artificial intelligence has become a hot-button issue over the last year. In fact, since the AI chatbot ChatGPT premiered last November, the triumphs and pitfalls of the new technology are all anyone in any industry seems to be talking about.

The technology is being used across various markets, from personalized shopping to fraud prevention, voice assistance, and more. According to IBM, more than a third of businesses used AI technology last year. The technology is new and exciting, and it has virtually limitless possibilities for productivity — and for error.

The first signs of controversy regarding AI-created content started to crop up in 2018 in the same place that many of the internet’s technological advancements starts — in pornography. Deepfake videos built with AI technology allowed users to create realistic-looking pornography using virtually anyone’s face. Four years later, near the end of 2022, real-life artists quickly noticed that AI generators were mimicking their styles.

There are several ethical concerns with the data being fed to AI generators and how that data is then openly used. While some AI companies are taking various precautions to prevent misuse of the budding technology, it’s a little like the Wild West out there…

Read more at TheStreet.

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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