Dictation – Windows 10 April 2018 Update

Voice as a natural input

Natural computing experiences enable us to speak directly to our devices to accomplish tasks, without typing. We see potential for voice input to dramatically change how people interact with their devices, far beyond novelty experiences or entertainment.

One way we’ve done this in the April 2018 Update is with Dictation. It’s now easier than ever to take a note or write a paper, with just your voice. With your cursor in any text field either in Windows 10 or in an app, simply press Win+H and start talking. The improved Dictation feature in Windows 10 will capture your thoughts quickly and accurately so that brilliant idea you just riffed on with your colleagues or the speech you’re practicing for your best friend’s wedding isn’t lost forever.

With the April 2018 Update and Cortana enabled on your Windows 10 PC, you can manage your smart home right from your PC using just your voice3. For example, want to come home to a warm house from a long day at work? Just tap Cortana on your PC and say “Hey Cortana, set the living room thermostat to 72 degrees” to control your ecobeeHoneywellNest Learning thermostat and more4.

Of course, there are many more great new features in the April 2018 Update including simplified IT management tools for our enterprise customers, new ways to create with Photos, 3D and Windows Mixed Reality, new ways to keep you safer online and enhancements to your PC gaming experience.

The April 2018 Update will be available as a free download beginning Monday, April 30.

With all the time you’ll save, how will you use your precious time?

Focus Assist – Windows 10 April 2018 Update

Focus Assist returns your focus

Today, most of us spend between 3-6 hours – each day – on screens. Much of this time is spent on social media, where the constant stream of distractions across our myriad of devices makes it hard to focus. In many ways, our attention is being hacked, pulling us into continuous scrolls of information, but distracting us from what matters most. This war on attention is real – in the workplace, the average amount of time people spend on any single event before being interrupted or switching tasks is about three minutes (outside of meetings). Since the average person needs about 23 minutes to regroup after being interrupted, we see our productivity and creativity diminished.

With the April 2018 Update we’re introducing Focus Assist to help you stay in the zone. Turn on Focus Assist whenever you want to get things done without distractions, like social media or other notifications. Or set it to turn on automatically at certain times during the day when you want focused time. When you finish, you receive a summary of what came through, whether notifications, emails or updates, while you were heads down. If you’re waiting on a specific call or email, choose people who you want to break through.

Timeline – Windows 10 April 2018 Update

Timeline helps you easily find what matters to you across your devices

We all get the same 24 hours. And now, more than ever, it seems like it’s never enough. People feel more overwhelmed than ever before and pretty much all of us would love more time – not necessarily time to do more, but time to do what we love. At Microsoft, we want to help you do just that.

The proliferation of devices, combined with the explosion of information, has led to an influx of screen time. In fact, today, practically all free time goes toward screens. Your information is spread across multiple devices – making it increasingly harder to find your stuff. We’ve all had the experience of digging through your email or file folders for the document you know you wrote, but can’t find. Or looking for photos and videos that you know you’ve seen and love, but can no longer locate. Timeline can help you get back this wasted time.

With Timeline, your Windows 10 PC lets you go back in time up to 30 days to find your stuff, whether you were working on it earlier today, last week, or a few weeks ago. Because much of our activity is on the go, you can even pick up what you were doing if signed into your Microsoft account while using Microsoft Edge or Office 365 on your iOS or Android device when you return to your Windows 10 PC. Imagine looking at bathroom vanity options for that home remodel when you’re out and about on your phone, and then finishing that purchase when you’re back at your PC. Or working on a document on the bus during your commute and seamlessly picking it back up when you’re at your desk.

Are You Protected from Ransomware?

Two large municipal governments, Baltimore and Atlanta, felt the pain of ransomware this past week. While Baltimore recovered within a day, Atlanta’s woes continue after a week without computers.

Baltimore’s 911 and 311 operators switched to methods many haven’t used in decades within emergency dispatch centers. The computer aided dispatch server fell victim to ransomware early Sunday morning after a network port was left exposed to the Internet. By Monday morning, dispatchers were back online.

Poor Atlanta and its citizens are not faring very well through their ransomware attack. The New York Times’ article entitled “A Cyberattack Hobbles Atlanta, and Security Experts Shudder” sums up the situation well. While their 911 systems were not affected, other important services took a step back in time, while others simply cannot function. “The Atlanta Municipal Court has been unable to validate warrants. Police officers have been writing reports by hand. The city has stopped taking employment applications.” All of these systems are being held ransom for $51,000.

We’ve had quite a few customers walk through the door with similar ransomware infections. The malicious software changes the names of files and/or encrypts the files. A message directs the user of the computer to send money in the form of a money order or cyber-currency such as Bitcoin. Once the hackers receive the funds, they send a key to de-crypt the files.

Often, there is a time limit to do this. Some ransomware permanently encrypts the files after the deadline. Others increase the ransom. Either way, its never a guarantee that these criminals will actually de-crypt your data after their pay off.

So, what can you do to avoid losing your photographs, music, videos, letters, etc.?

Digital Age Solution implements a multi-layered approach to protecting data.  Our most secure networks actively block known threats and suspicious activity. The security software we employ as a service blocks the encryption of files. If the hacker finds a way to bypass that protection, our back-up software maintains infinite versions of our customers’ backed-up data. Once we clean a system, we can roll back to a version before the encryption.

The Digital Age Solution Safe & Secure Services team reported four attempts on customers within the past seven days. The customers ranged from a two-person office to a very large local business serving the entire Mid-Atlantic region. The attempts were made on PCs and Macs.

Hackers work diligently to circumvent every road block.

Digital Age Solution employs security experts and analysts to keep ahead of the criminals and anticipate their next moves.

Hackers attempt to employ Ransomware Attacks on our customers networks on a regular basis.

Digital Age Solution actively monitors for these attacks and takes immediate action to keep customers’ data and networks safe. Like all of our services, we offer this service for home and corporate users.

To find out more about Digital Age Solution’s Safe & Secure Services by calling 301-662-7386.

Watch Starman Travel Through Space in a Tesla

The Digital Age Solution team watched Space-X launch its Falcon Heavy into space this afternoon, and successfully return it to Earth.

Now, its payload which includes a Tesla driven by Starman will make its way through the solar system as it orbits the sun for hundreds of millions of years. Best of all, you can watch it live! Enjoy!

Quickbooks Online

Digital Age Solution now offers Quickbooks Online as another Software As A Service (SAAS) offering. SAAS combined with our other services allow businesses of any size to budget all of their Information Technology into one monthly bill that avoids “surprise” expenses from month to month.

Just like Microsoft’s Office 365 SAAS, Quickbooks Online provides optional levels of service. Simple Start offers a single user seat per license, and all the basics. Essentials offers three users per license, and adds services and more reports. Plus provides five users per license, inventory tracking, and 1099s.

Best of all, users of Quickbooks Online don’t have to worry about purchasing and upgrading to the latest version of the software. Users are always using the latest version of the software.

There are so many benefits and added features to Quickbooks Online. This video helps get a feel for some of those features.

When you are ready to add Quickbooks Online to your Digital Age Solution package, give us a call at 301-662-7386 or e-mail us.

Local Numbers and Local Service

Did you know that Digital Age Solution offers telephone service through our DAS VOIP product?

Voice Over IP (VOIP) offers a lot of advantages for customers. Telephone traffic is routed through the Internet to you. So, your phone isn’t tied to your house, or even your cell phone.

With DAS VOIP, we offer a host of solutions to keep you connected wherever you are. You can pick-up your phone and take it with you on vacation. You can use your smart phone to make and receive calls using your DAS VOIP phone number. You can have your number ring to multiple phones all at once or in a sequence.

DAS offers all of the premium features that other phone companies offer, and more. Our Voice to Text feature transcribes voicemail messages and sends them by e-mail or text message. Our mobile app for iPhone and Android lets you manage your phone service wherever you go.

Don’t worry about losing your phone number.. You can keep your local number, get a new local number, or get a number from some other location. We are not restricted by your zip code or anything else. If you want a number for every state, we can do that.

Best of all, you get the reliability and service of a local company. You can come to our store and talk to us. We can come to your location and help you. When you call 301-662-7386, you are talking to someone who lives and works in Frederick County, Maryland.

Merry Christmas!

As 2017 draws to a close, all of us at Digital Age Solution share our most sincere thanks and well wishes to all of you. Each solution we provide to our customers fill us with the pride and satisfaction of a job well done.

You are first on our list when it comes to providing information technology support. We are grateful for the opportunity to be your I.T. Department.

For the next few days, we’ll be celebrating Christmas and New Years with our family and friends.

If you need help with your technology during the holidays, please feel free to call us and leave us a message. We remain on-call to help you with your needs.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Yours,

Mike

Michael Kuster
Owner

Bad Rabbit Ransomware Spreads via Network

An ongoing ransomware campaign is hitting Eastern European countries with what seems to be a variant of the Petya ransomware dubbed Bad Rabbit (which we detect as RANSOM_BADRABBIT.A). Digital Age Solution utilizes Trend Micro XGen™ security products with machine learning to proactively detect this ransomware as TROJ.Win32.TRX.XXPE002FF019 without the need for a pattern update. The attack comes a few months after the previous Petya outbreak, which struck European countries back in June.

Initial reports peg the main casualties as transport systems and media outlets in Ukraine and Russia. The Ukranian arm of CERT (CERT-UA) has also issued an advisory warning of further potential ransomware attacks.

Initial Analysis

Figure 1: Bad Rabbit Infection Chain

Figure 1: Bad Rabbit Infection Chain

Our initial analysis found that Bad Rabbit spreads via watering hole attacks that lead to a fake Flash installer “install_flash_player.exe”. Compromised sites are injected with a script that contains a URL that resolves to hxxp://1dnscontrol[.]com/flash_install, which is inaccessible as of the time of publication. We’ve observed some compromised sites from Denmark, Ireland, Turkey, and Russia where it delivered the fake Flash installer.

 Figure 2: Code showing the injected script

Figure 2: Code showing the injected script

Once the fake installer is clicked, it will drop the encryptor file infpub.dat using the rundll32.exe process, along with the decryptor file dispci.exe. As part of its routine, Bad Rabbit uses a trio of files referencing the show Game of Thrones, starting with rhaegal.job, which is responsible for executing the decryptor file, as well as a second job file, drogon.job, that is responsible for shutting down the victim’s machine. The ransomware will then proceed to encrypt files in the system and display the ransom note shown above.

 Figure 3: Bad Rabbit ransom note showing the installation key

Figure 3: Bad Rabbit ransom note showing the installation key

A third file, viserion_23.job, reboots the target system a second time. The screen is then locked, and the following note displayed:

 Figure 4: Bad Rabbit ransom note displayed after system reboot

Figure 4: Bad Rabbit ransom note displayed after system reboot

Based on our initial analysis, Bad Rabbit spreads to other computers in the network by dropping copies of itself in the network using its original name and executing the dropped copies using Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and Service Control Manager Remote Protocol. When the Service Control Manager Remote Protocol is used, it uses dictionary attacks for the credentials.

Bad Rabbit also spreads via the SMB file sharing protocol. It attempts to brute force any administrative shares it finds; if successful it drops a copy of itself into these shares. If these bruteforce attacks fails, it uses an exploit related to the Eternal Synergy SMB vulnerability to drop copies onto these shares. This is a divergence from the earlier Petya attacks, which used the EternalBlue vulnerability.

Among the tools Bad Rabbit reportedly incorporates is the open-source utility Mimikatz, which it uses for credential extraction. We also found evidence of it using DiskCryptor, a legitimate disk encryption tool, to encrypt the target systems.

Mitigation and Best Practices

Users can mitigate the impact of ransomware such as Bad Rabbit with the best practices utilized by Digital Age Solution’s Safe & Secure Managed Services.

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update is beginning to roll out to Windows 10 customers around the world, and today, Microsoft outlines all the great new features available in the update with this blog post and our special episode of This Week on Windows.

With the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft is introducing some fun, new ways to get creative – from bringing mixed reality and 3D to the masses, to faster broadcasting for gaming, to turning photos and videos into real memories, and so much more. The Fall Creators Update can be experienced on a wide variety of Windows 10 PCs and on a range of Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

You can get the Fall Creators Update in a few different ways. If you already have a Windows 10 PC and have automatic updates enabled, the update will be delivered to you when it’s ready. If you are an advanced user and would like to get the update manually, visit this blog post to learn how to get the Fall Creators Update.