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VMworld 2018 US: NAKIVO Wins the Gold Award!

VMworld US in Las Vegas has come to a close, and it was a very productive event for our team, featuring a huge win: NAKIVO received a “Best of VMworld 2018” Gold Award for the Data Protection category. During the event, our team announced the release of NAKIVO Backup & Replication v8.0 with Site Recovery, interacted with hundreds of attendees, and made new connections in the virtualization sphere.

NAKIVO at VMworld 2018 US

“Best of VMworld” Awards are given out annually at VMworld US by TechTarget’s SearchServerVirtualization. NAKIVO was among 80+ nominees competing for awards across 7 categories representing different areas of the virtualization industry. A panel of experts and editors assessed the products on five factors: their innovation, value, performance, reliability, and ease of use.
We are thrilled to announce that NAKIVO Backup & Replication was selected as a “Best of VMworld 2018” Gold Award winner for the Data Protection category! The judges’ feedback captured the essence of the product perfectly:
“It’s a feature-rich backup system for the SMB, without the enterprise cost.”


Read more
https://www.nakivo.com/blog/vmworld-2018-us-nakivo-wins-gold-award/

Meltdown, Spectre CPU bugs threaten devices worldwide

Fix for massive security flaws could slow down PCs and Macs by as much as 30%
Spectre Meltdown

Massive security vulnerabilities in modern CPUs are forcing a redesign of the kernel software at the heart of all major operating systems. Since the issues – dubbed Meltdown and Spectre – exist in the CPU hardware itself, Windows, Linux, Android, Macs, Chromebooks, and other operating systems all need to protect against it. And worse, it appears that plugging the hole will negatively affect your PC’s performance.

Everyday home users shouldn’t panic too much, though. Just apply the latest operating system updates and keep your antivirus software vigilant, as ever.

Here’s a high-level look at what you need to know about Meltdown and Spectre, in plain language. If you want a deep-dive into the technical details, be sure to read Google’s post on the CPU vulnerabilities. We’ve updated this article repeatedly as new information becomes available.

It is hard to dive too technically into the issue, as major hardware and software vendors are working together quietly to fix the kernel issue before making the vulnerability public. But The Register’s reporting and comments on patch code coming in hot to the Linux kernel – with details redacted to obscure the exact nature of the vulnerability – give us insight into issue.

Here is a high-level look at what we know so far about the Intel CPU kernel bug affecting Linux, Windows, and presumably Macs. Expect it to be updated repeatedly as the problem becomes more clear.

Intel processor kernel bug FAQ
(Editor’s note: This article was updated to include comments from an Intel statement about the kernel exploit and its performance concerns throughout.)

The bug in play here is extremely technical, but in a nutshell, the chip’s kernel is leaking memory, which could lead to extremely sensitive data being exposed to apps and hackers, or make it easier for attackers to inject malware into your PC.

Intel says that “these exploits do not have the potential to corrupt, modify or delete data,” though simply being able to read the contents of protected kernel memory could give attackers access to your passwords, login keys, and much more.

What’s a kernel?
The kernel inside a chip is basically an invisible process that facilitates the way apps and functions work on your computer. It has complete control over your operating system. Your PC needs to switch between user mode and kernel mode thousands of times a day, making sure instructions and data flow seamlessly and instantaneously. Here’s how The Register puts it: “Think of the kernel as God sitting on a cloud, looking down on Earth. It’s there, and no normal being can see it, yet they can pray to it.”

How do I know if my PC is at risk?
Google says “effectively every” Intel processor released since 1995 is vulnerable to Meltdown, regardless of the OS you’re running or whether you have a desktop or laptop. Chips from Intel, AMD, and ARM are susceptible to Spectre attacks, though AMD says its hardware has “zero” and “near zero” risk to the two known Spectre variants because of the way its chip architecture is designed.

A Linux kernel patch is also being prepared for 64-bit ARM processors. Details are murky, though a statement from Intel says that “many types of computing devices – with many different vendors’ processors and operating systems – are susceptible to these exploits.”

So if it’s a chip problem, then the chip makers need to fix it?

Yes and no. While CPU manufacturers will surely address the problem in future chips, the fix for PCs in the wild needs to come from the OS manufacturer, as a microcode update won’t be able to properly repair it.

Linux developers are working furiously to address the flaw in a new kernel update. Microsoft is expected to patch the problem during its Patch Tuesday updates on 9 January, after testing it on recently released Windows Insider preview builds. That timeline appears to have been corroborated by Intel’s statement, which says, “Intel and other vendors had planned to disclose this issue next week when more software and firmware updates will be available.”

I use a Mac, so I’m OK, right?
Not this time. The vulnerability here affects all Intel x86 chips, so that means Macs are at risk too. However, Apple quietly protected against the exploit is macOS 10.13.2, which released on 6 December, according to developer Alex Ionescu. Additional safeguards will be found in macOS 10.13.3, he says.

So, what can I do?
Not much besides updating your PC when a fix becomes available. Since the issue is such a deeply technical one there isn’t anything users can do to mitigate the potential issue other than wait for a fix to arrive. Definitely make sure you’re running security software in the meantime – advice that Intel also stresses.

Do you know when a fix will come?
It’s already here for Windows, Mac, and Chromebook users.

Microsoft pushed out a Windows update protecting against Meltdown on 3 January, the day that the CPU exploits hit headlines. Updates issued outside of Microsoft’s monthly “Patch Tuesdays” are rare, underlining the severity of this issue.

Apple quietly protected against Meltdown in macOS High Sierra 10.13.2, which released on 6 December, according to developer Alex Ionescu. Additional safeguards will be found in macOS 10.13.3, he says.

Linux developers are working furiously to address the flaw in a new kernel update.

Chromebooks received protection in Chrome OS 63, which released on December 15. Furthermore, the Chrome Web browser itself was updated to include an opt-in experimental feature called ‘site isolation‘ that can help guard against Spectre attacks. Site isolation is trickier on mobile devices; Google warns that it can create “functionality and performance issues” in Android, and since Chrome on iOS is forced to use Apple’s WKWebView, Spectre protections on that platform need to come from Apple itself. Chrome 64 will include more mitigations.

Mozilla is taking steps to protect against Spectre as well. Firefox 57 released in November with some initial safeguards.

So once the fix arrives, it’s OK?
Well, the operating system patches will plug the risk of Meltdown, but you might not like the side effects. While the fix will prevent the chip’s kernel from leaking memory, it brings some unfortunate changes to the way the OS interacts with the processor. And that could lead to slowdowns.

How much slower will my Intel PC become?
It’s complicated.

More recent Intel processors from the Haswell (fourth-gen) era onward have a technology called PCID (Process-Context Identifiers) enabled and are said to suffer less of a performance hit. Plus, some applications – most notably virtualisation tasks and data centre/cloud workloads – are affected more than others. The Register says “we’re looking at a ballpark figure of five to 30% slow down, depending on the task and the processor model.” Intel confirmed that the performance loss will be dependent on workload, and “should not be significant” for average home computer users.

“Obviously it depends on just exactly what you do,” Linux creator Linus Torvalds wrote in the Linux Kernel Mailing List. “Some loads will hardly be affected at all, if they just spend all their time in user space. And if you do a lot of small system calls, you might see double-digit slowdown.

“It will depend heavily on the hardware too,” he continued. “Older CPUs without PCID will be impacted more by the isolation. And I think some of the back-ports won’t take advantage of PCID even on newer hardware.”

Michael Larabel, the open source guru behind the Linux-centric Phoronix website, has run a gauntlet of benchmarks using Linux 4.15-rc6, an early release candidate build of the upcoming Linux 4.15 kernel. It includes the new KPTI protections for the Intel CPU kernel flaw. The Core i7-8700K saw a massive performance decrease in FS-Mark 3.3 and Compile Bench, a pair of synthetic I/O benchmarks. PostgreSQL and Redis suffered a loss, but to a far lesser degree. Finally, H.264 video encoding, timed Linux kernel compilation, and FFmpeg video conversion tasks didn’t lose anything.

Your mileage will, indeed, vary, it seems. Keep in mind that Phoronix’s testing was conducted on a non-final release, and that the Linux and Windows kernels are two very different beasts, so do not treat these as a locked-in look at what to expect from the eventual fixes for the Intel x86 kernel bug. We won’t know the full extent of the slowdown on Windows and macOS machines until a patch lands.

IDG News Service

Credit: Techcentral.ie

Reset Windows Socket TCP/IP Stack

Windows socket is the program responsible for handling all the network incoming and outgoing requests by program like Internet Explorer. If there is an issue with it, resetting it can fix it easily.

To do so, press Windows key and type cmd, right click cmd and choose Run as administrator. 

In the black command prompt window, type the following commands and press Enter after each:

ipconfig /flushdns

nbtstat -R

nbtstat -RR

netsh int reset all

netsh int ip reset

netsh winsock reset

Reboot your system for changes to take effect.

Ransomware – How to prevent being a victim

How to prevent being a victim

Ransomware is a particularly sophisticated type of malware, and while knowledgeable professionals might know how to disable it, users can curb the problem by following routine security measures. It’s important to remember that in some cases, recovery without paying the ransom might not be possible, and this is when it becomes necessary to resort to file backups.

Here are a few simple tips on how you can secure yourself from likely attacks:

  • Backup your files regularly – the 3-2-1 rule applies here: three backup copies of your data on two different media and one of those copies in a separate location.
  • Bookmark your favorite websites and access only via bookmarks – attackers can easily slip malicious codes into URLs, directing unwitting users to a malicious site where ransomware could be downloaded. Bookmarking frequently-visited, trusted websites will prevent you from typing in the wrong address.
  • Verify email sources – while this practice could be tricky, it always pays to be extra careful before opening any link or email attachment. To be sure, verify with your contacts prior to clicking.
  • Update security software – employing security software adds an extra layer of protection from all possible points of infection. Specifically, it prevents access to malicious websites hosting ransomware variants. More importantly, it detects and deletes ransomware variants found in the system.

For screens that have been locked by ransomware, the Trend Micro AntiRansomware Tool 3.0 can be used to resolve the infection from a USB drive.

 

Ransomware 101

Windows Update stuck downloading updates

If you find that your Windows Update is stuck downloading updates at 0 % or any other figure in Windows 10

Windows Update stuck downloading updates

This is what helped me and I am sure that it could help you too. You may click on the images to see their larger versions.

From the WinX Menu, open Command Prompt (Admin). Type the following one after the other and hit Enter:

net stop wuauserv

net stop bits

This will stop the Windows Update related Services.

 

Next browse to the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder and delete all the files and folders inside. Press Ctrl+A to Select All and then Delete.

software-distribution

If the files are in use, and you are unable to delete some files, restart your device. After rebooting, run the above commands again. Now you will be able to delete the files from the mentioned Software Distribution folder.

After you have emptied this folder, you may restart your computer or you may type the following commands one at a time in the CMD, and hit Enter to restart the Windows Update related Services.

net start wuauserv

net start bits

Run Windows Update again and see.

updating and downloading

You will be able to download and install the updates successfully. Once done, you will see that a restart has also been scheduled.

windows-10-update-restart-scheduled

I suggest you restart immediately to complete the process.

What is OneDrive for Business?

What is OneDrive for Business?

onedrive-sync-logo.pngIn short, OneDrive for Business is a personal file sharing/storage solution. Think of it as Microsoft’s version of DropBox. To be fair, they do vary in some functionality, but conceptually, they are kind of the same thing. The key takeaway here is that it is a personal drive of a user. In other words, if you were to purchase OneDrive for Business, you have to associate it with the named user/owner in your organization. Whoever owns OneDrive for Business – has the ability to upload, delete and yes, share individual files and folders with other users.

However, at the end of the day – the thing to remember is that the owner of OneDrive for Business is the boss and has keys to the vault. Should this user leave the organization or not be available – you will have a big matzo ball to deal with. As an Administrator, you can still access that user’s files – that’s not a problem. However, you might now have important company documents residing in a unfamiliar folder structure – good luck figuring out what needs to stay or be migrated and what is the latest version.

 

Example of OneDrive for Business account

OneDrive for Business

Source: SharePoint Maven

It’s official: Older versions of IE are now at risk

Microsoft this week made good on a 2014 promise and withheld security updates from users of older versions of the company’s Internet Explorer (IE) browser.

All Windows users still running IE7 or IE8, and those running IE9 on any other edition of Windows but Vista, as well as those using IE10 on anything but Windows Server 2012, did not receive the patches Microsoft distributed Tuesday to systems equipped with the newer IE11 or Edge browsers.

As is its practice, Microsoft issued a single, cumulative update for IE on Feb. 9. The update, labeled MS16-009, included fixes for 13 vulnerabilities.

While Microsoft did not spell out which fixes were not given to older copies of IE, it isn’t difficult to pinpoint those unsent.

Of the 13 vulnerabilities patched by MS16-009, nine affected every version of IE that is still supported, including IE9 on Windows Vista and IE10 on Windows Server 2012. Because different versions of Microsoft’s browser share large amounts of code — that was one of the primary reasons the Redmond, Wash. company has dead-ended IE and started over with Edge — it’s almost certain that the nine vulnerabilities also exist in IE7 and IE8, and in IE9 and IE10 on Windows editions ineligible for patching.

In other words, more than two-thirds of the vulnerabilities patched by Microsoft on Tuesday probably exist in the retired IE versions.

The danger with known, but unpatched vulnerabilities is significant: Cyber criminals regularly parse updates and compare “before” and “after” code to determine what was changed. They then use that information to investigate further in an attempt to reverse-engineer the patch to find the underlying vulnerability. Once the bug has been identified, they craft an exploit to successfully hack unpatched software, knowing that not everyone updates immediately.

In this case, the vulnerability found in, say, IE9 on Vista — which was patched this week — may give them insight into the location of the bug in the older IE8. From there, they can create an exploit for the unpatched browser.

Cyber criminals will have motivation to do this work, at least temporarily, because a large number of IE users worldwide are still running the now-retired versions. According to data from analytics vendor Net Applications, about a third of those running IE last month used a version that has stopped receiving security updates.

Microsoft declared the early retirement of IE7 and IE8, and partial retirement of IE9 and IE10, in August 2014, when it told customers they must upgrade to the latest browser available for their OS by Jan. 12, 2016. For most users, the latest version is IE11.

It’s coming very soon! -Microsoft Announces Windows 10 Release Date

Microsoft Announces Windows 10 Release Date

After skipping straight to version 10 Microsoft will launch Windows 10 on July 29th. The technology giant had previously promised to release the next version of its computer operating system sometime this summer. That date represents aggressive timing for a company that has, at times, had difficult launches for major products. The Redmond, Washington-based company has been releasing increasingly polished preview builds of the software over the past few months.

Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. To publicize that, the company is making a small notification appear in users’ task bars. Clicking on the notification, pops up a slide show extolling the benefits of Windows 10. Some of the new features include: the return of the Start menu, an all-new Internet browser, and Cortana, a digital personal assistant making to Google Now or Apple’s Siri.

With Windows 10, we start delivering on our vision of more personal computing, defined by trust in how we protect and respect your personal information, mobility of the experience across your devices, and natural interactions with your Windows devices, including speech, touch, ink, and holograms. We designed Windows 10 to run our broadest device family ever, including Windows PCs, Windows tablets, Windows phones, Windows for the Internet of Things, Microsoft Surface Hub, Xbox One and Microsoft HoloLens—all working together

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