Wednesday Newsbytes: Cookie Law Crumbles, Microsoft Shares Workaround for Start Menu Woes, New Identity Stealing Malware, Notepad Gets Tabs, Google’s Fungal Easter Egg, 90 Seconds Until Doomsday…and more!

By | January 25, 2023
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Wednesday Newsbytes: Cookie Law Crumbles, Microsoft Shares Workaround for Start Menu Woes, New Identity Stealing Malware, Notepad Gets Tabs, Google’s Fungal Easter Egg, 90 Seconds Until Doomsday…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!

The Cookie Law is finally crumbling – good riddance

The stalest of all laws is getting an overhaul after years of menacing the web, and its end can’t come soon enough

Head to a new website, or merely one you haven’t visited in a while. You likely won’t be able to see it, especially if you’re using a smartphone. That’s because the page you’ve attempted to load is probably obscured by the bane of the internet: a cookie banner.

In my early days, I spent a lot of time writing about the then-incoming cookie consent law, also known as the ePrivacy and Electronic Communications Directive. It stipulated that web users should know if a website is tracking them and only allow it with consent. Once it came into UK law in 2012, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) had to devise a way for website owners to practically issue a warning and ask permission.

On that front, the ICO failed – at the time and in the long run. The law came into force in May, with the data regulator issuing advice a few weeks before suggesting that displaying a banner on websites as visitors arrived would suffice as compliance. Those pop-ups are increasingly massive and – if I’m any judge – quickly swiped away. I will tap “accept” or “reject” at random; I no longer care, just show me the thing I wanted to see…

Read more at IT Pro.

Microsoft shares workaround for unresponsive Windows Start Menu

Microsoft has confirmed an issue causing the Windows Start menu to become unresponsive and some applications to no longer launch.

The newly acknowledged issue affects only client platforms, including Windows 10 20H2, 21H2, and 22H2, and Windows 11, version 22H2.

“The Start menu, Windows search, and Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps might not work as expected or might have issues opening,” Redmond said.

“Affected Windows devices might have damaged registry keys or data which might affect apps using Microsoft Office APIs to integrate with Windows, Microsoft Office, or Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Calendar.”

As BleepingComputer reported one week ago, one of the impacted apps is ClickShare, a tool that helps share a Windows device’s screen wirelessly.

Microsoft said today that the underlying issue behind these ongoing Start Menu and app opening problems is not triggered by a Windows update but “might be exposed by an update to an affected app.”

Workaround available

Microsoft said the Windows team is investigating this issue and will provide affected customers with more information in an update to the Windows health dashboard entry…

Read more at Bleeping Computer.

This malware collects enough info to steal your identity — and it’s hiding in downloads for popular apps

Clicking on ads for popular software could lead to phishing pages distributing malware

Downloading new apps on your computer is usually a simple and straightforward process, but you now need to be extra careful when doing so as hackers have begun impersonating popular apps to spread malware.

According to a new blog post (opens in new tab) from the cybersecurity firm Cyble, hackers have begun using phishing pages designed to impersonate a number of popular apps online. While a user may think they’re downloading a widely used app, they’re actually installing malware on their computer.

On January 16, the firm’s researchers discovered a phishing site that was impersonating a popular chat app. The very next day, the same phishing site had been transformed to mimic the site of the remote desktop tool TeamViewer. This shows that the hackers behind the campaign are actively changing and customizing their phishing sites to target a number of popular apps.

Once a user clicks the download button on these phishing sites, malware named “messenger.exe” and “teamviewer.exe” is downloaded onto their PC. However, the hackers behind this campaign are using a clever trick to bypass the best antivirus software: they’re padding these downloads with extra zeros to increase their file size. This helps their malicious executables bypass security checks…

Read more at Tom’s Guide.

Tabs in Notepad begins rolling out to Windows Insiders

Hello Windows Insiders, today we are beginning to roll out an update to Notepad (version 11.2212.33.0) for Windows 11 to Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel that introduces tabs.

With this update, we are introducing support for multiple tabs—a top requested feature from the community—where you will be able to create, manage, and organize multiple files in a single Notepad window! You can also continue to work with files across multiple windows by dragging a tab out into its own window, and a new app setting lets you customize whether files open in new tabs or a new window by default.

There are also new keyboard shortcut keys to support managing tabs as well as some improvements to managing unsaved files, like automatically generating the file name/tab title based on content and a refreshed unsaved changes indicator.

We are aware of a couple of issues that may impact your experience with this preview. Some users might encounter issues with certain keyboard shortcuts, and we will also continue to optimize performance to ensure Notepad continues to meet our high standards of performance, reliability, and compatibility…

Read more at Windows Blog.

Microsoft’s Silent Update Checks Your Windows PC for Old Versions of Office

Nothing is installed, no restart is required, but Microsoft will quietly collect some information about your system.

Microsoft is running an update on Windows PCs that will silently check for old copies of Office.

As The Register reports(Opens in a new window), details of the update were revealed on the Microsoft support website earlier this month. Update KB5021751(Opens in a new window) is described as “intended to help Microsoft identify the number of users running out-of-support (or soon to be out-of-support) versions of Office, including Office 2013, Office 2010, and Office 2007.” No detail is given as to why Microsoft decided to perform this check.

The update will “run one time silently without installing anything on the user’s device” and no restart will be required after it runs. It’s unlikely the vast majority of Windows users will even notice the update has been downloaded and run, but the information it collects will be transmitted back to Microsoft.

Although Microsoft hasn’t explained why this check is being performed, it most likely relates to the fact support for Office 2013 ends(Opens in a new window) on April 11 this year. Microsoft wants to know how many people still have these very old copies of office suite installed, as that may determine if and when any future updates are required to maintain security on those systems…

Read more at PC Mag.

Typing ‘The Last of Us’ into Google gives you an eerie Easter egg surprise — take a look

Google has a fungal Easter egg surprise for fans of HBO’s apocalyptic show, “The Last of Us” — all you need to do is Google the title of the show.

Typing “The Last of Us” into Google’s search bar on desktop or mobile brings up a mushroom button at the bottom of the page.

Clicking it begins to fill the screen with fungus.

The more you click on the mushroom, the more fungus spores pop up.

HBO’s hit show is set in the post-apocalyptic US after a mutant parasitic fungus takes over the world, and is based off of “The Last of Us” video game. Over four million people tuned into the show’s premiere on January 15…

Read more at Business Insider.

We are now 90 seconds to our doom

This is the closest humanity has ever been to its own annihilation, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Fellow humans, we are now just 90 seconds away from our doom — also known as midnight on the Doomsday Clock. It’s “a metaphor for how close humanity is to self-annihilation,” according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which sets the time each year. And we’ve never been closer to the apocalypse.

While it’s just a metaphor, the decision to move the clock’s hands closer to midnight reflects real-world risks. This year, that included the war in Ukraine, heightened nuclear tensions, worsening climate change, and proliferating disinformation campaigns.

But the biggest factor this year, according to the Bulletin, was the conflict in Ukraine. You can read more about the Bulletin’s decision in their official statement, which is released each year. This is the first year the statement has been released in English, Russian, and Ukrainian…

Read more at The Verge.

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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2 thoughts on “Wednesday Newsbytes: Cookie Law Crumbles, Microsoft Shares Workaround for Start Menu Woes, New Identity Stealing Malware, Notepad Gets Tabs, Google’s Fungal Easter Egg, 90 Seconds Until Doomsday…and more!

  1. Muriel Schlecht

    ‘Microsoft is running an update on Windows PCs that will silently check for old copies of Office.’
    Why “silently”? There’s no need to “check” anything “silently” unless there’s something to hide… maybe they do it all the time for a variety of reasons and we don’t know it. Very close to being remote access without permission. I don’t trust them for a split second.

    1. infoave Post author

      I dunno, Muriel. It’s just Microsoft being Microsoft 🙂


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