Microsoft’s upcoming release of Windows 11 will make it even harder to switch default browsers and ignores browser defaults in new areas of the operating system. While Microsoft is making many positive changes to the Windows 11 UI, the default apps experience is a step back and browser competitors like Mozilla, Opera, and Vivaldi are concerned.
In Windows 11, Microsoft has changed the way you set default apps. Like Windows 10, there’s a prompt that appears when you install a new browser and open a web link for the first time. It’s the only opportunity to easily switch browsers, though. Unless you tick “always use this app,” the default will never be changed. It’s incredibly easy to forget to toggle the “always use this app” option, or simply select the browser you want and never see this prompt again.
If you do forget to set your default browser at first launch, the experience for switching defaults is now very confusing compared to Windows 10. Chrome and many other rival browsers will often prompt users to set them as default and will throw Windows users into the default apps part of settings to enable this.
Microsoft has changed the way default apps are assigned in Windows 11, which means you now have to set defaults by file or link type instead of a single switch. In the case of Chrome, that means changing the default file type for HTM, HTML, PDF, SHTML, SVG, WEBP, XHT, XHTML, FTP, HTTP, and HTTPS.
It’s an unnecessarily long process compared to Windows 10, which allows you to quickly and easily switch default email, maps, music, photos, videos, and web browser apps. Competitors aren’t impressed with Microsoft’s changes to Windows 11 here.
“We have been increasingly worried about the trend on Windows,” says Selena Deckelmann, senior vice president of Firefox, in a statement to The Verge. “Since Windows 10, users have had to take additional and unnecessary steps to set and retain their default browser settings. These barriers are confusing at best and seem designed to undermine a user’s choice for a non-Microsoft browser.”
Mozilla isn’t alone in its concerns, which it has been highlighting for years. “Microsoft has a history of doing this, and it seems they are getting progressively worse,” says a Vivaldi spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “With every new version of Windows, it is getting harder [to change defaults]. They understand that the only way they can get people to use their browsers is to lock them in.”
Opera, another rival to Microsoft Edge, is also unimpressed with Microsoft’s changes to Windows 11 default apps. “It’s very unfortunate when a platform vendor is obscurifying a common use case to improve the standing of their own product,” says Krystian Kolondra, Opera’s head of browsers in a statement to The Verge. “We would like to encourage all platform vendors to respect user choice and allow competition on their platforms. Taking away user choice is a step backwards.”
We also reached out to Google to comment on Microsoft’s changes to Edge, but the company did not respond in time for publication.
Default app choices aren’t the only issues affecting browsers in Windows 11, either. Microsoft has been ignoring default browser choices in its search experience in Windows 10, and the company introduced a taskbar widget that also ignored a default browser and forced users into Edge.
Windows 11 continues this trend, with search still forcing users into Edge, and now a new dedicated widgets area that also ignores the default browser setting. “It appears that Windows 11 widgets will ignore a user’s default browser choice and open Microsoft Edge for the content instead,” says a Brave spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “Brave puts users first and we condemn this Windows 11 approach, because the choice of a default browser has many implications for individuals and their privacy. Users should be free to choose.”
It’s not clear yet whether Windows 11 will also continue Microsoft’s trend of forcing Edge onto people through Windows Updates, with regular prompts to switch. It all seems rather unnecessary, as the Chromium-based version of Edge is a great browser that many probably won’t need or want to switch away from in the future anyway. Microsoft wouldn’t be happy if Google or Apple ignored browser defaults like this with iOS or Android, so this blatant disregard is troubling.
Microsoft justifies these changes as allowing Windows users to have more control over default apps. “With Windows 11, we are implementing customer feedback to customize and control defaults at a more granular level, eliminating app categories and elevating all apps to the forefront of the defaults experience,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “As evidenced by this change, we’re constantly listening and learning, and welcome customer feedback that helps shape Windows. Windows 11 will continue to evolve over time; if we learn from user experience that there are ways to make improvements, we will do so.”
Microsoft has just announced the release of a new Windows 11 Insider build for Insiders in the Dev channel, and the new bits are once again bringing a bit more polish to the brand new OS. After installing today’s build 22000.100, Insiders will notice that apps in the Taskbar will now start flashing when a background activity requires attention.
Microsoft has also updated the hidden icons flyout on the lower right of the Taskbar to make them look more consistent with the rest of Windows 11. Other notable changes in this build include the ability to quickly access Focus assist settings directly from Notification Center, and the touch keyboard icon in the Taskbar has also been updated to match the size of the other icons in that area of the Taskbar.
Microsoft has also started rolling out the new built-in Teams for Consumers app for Windows 11 testers, and a new update for the Microsoft Store is also being released today with improvements to the navigation experience.
You can check out all the details about changes, bug fixes, and known issues in the build 22000.100 below:
Changes and Improvements
- We have started rolling out Chat from Microsoft Teams to Insiders in the Dev Channel. Not everyone will see it right away,
- The hidden icons flyout on the lower right of the Taskbar has been updated to match the new visuals of Windows 11. (Please note – it may not look right after updating to this build – toggling between two themes will correct the issue.)
- We added the ability to quickly access Focus assist settings directly from Notification Center.
- When a background activity from an app requires attention, the app will flash on the Taskbar to get your attention. In Windows 11, we have updated this design so that it still grabs your attention but with a calming treatment that minimizes the impact of unwarranted distractions. The subtle flashing eventually stops, and you will see a slightly red backplate and red pill under the app icon continuing to note a background activity needs your attention. Let us know what you think!
- The touch keyboard icon in the Taskbar has been adjusted to be more consistent with the size of the other icons in the corner of the Taskbar.
- The Taskbar calendar flyout will now fully collapse down when clicking the chevron in the top corner to give you more room for notifications.
- In the latest Microsoft Store update rolling out to Insiders, we made navigation in our new Microsoft Store feel fast and fun. When you select an app or movie you’re interested in, you might notice some animations that help you keep track of what you’re browsing. Give it a try, we hope you like it as much as we do
- We fixed the issue that was causing Explorer.exe to crash when the date and time button on the Taskbar is clicked to access new notifications with Focus Assist turned off.
- Added the missing settings icons for the context menu entries when right clicking network, volume, and battery in the Taskbar.
- Fixed an issue that was making the clock in the Taskbar get stuck and out of sync.
- Addressed an explorer.exe that could happen after resuming from standby, related to the volume icon in the Taskbar.
- There is an issue where the progress bar below app icons in the Taskbar wasn’t always displaying when it was expected to and have fixed it.
- Clicking on the Taskbar when either Start or Search is open will now make them dismiss.
- If you tap Taskbar icons using touch you should now see the same icon animation that was visible when using the mouse.
- The lunar calendar (when enabled) text should no longer overlap the numbers in the Taskbar calendar flyout.
- The calendar flyout should now show the correct month when in a collapsed state.
- The date at the top of the calendar flyout should now follow your preferred format and not the format matching your display language.
- If the Start menu is open, when hovering over Task View the window will now appear above Start menu instead of behind it.
- Right-clicking Task View will now make the preview window dismiss so you can actually use the context menu.
- Fixed an issue where if you click on a snap group in the Taskbar, it might not bring up all the app windows after docking and undocking.
- The icons used for the On / Off indicators in the Taskbar for the Pinyin IME are now a consistent size.
- Signing out and back in when battery saver is running should no longer result in Taskbar becoming transparent.
- Mitigated an issue making the network icon sometimes unexpectedly not show in the Taskbar.
- The Taskbar previews will no longer draw offscreen after upgrading to this build.
- We fixed an issue causing multiple buttons and options in Settings to not work in the previous flight, including Go Back and Reset Your PC under Recovery, enabling Developer mode, renaming your PC, and enabling Remote Desktop.
- The page titles in Settings should no longer be drawing too high up / off screen.
- Searching for add and remove programs in Settings should now return the expected Settings page.
- We’ve done some work to help search in Settings initialize faster.
- Addressed an issue that was causing crashes in Settings when interacting with the Windows Insider Program section.
- Fixed an issue that could make Settings crash on launch.
- Fixed an icon rendering issue in Power and Battery Settings.
- Fixed some reliability issues with the Language and Region page in Settings.
- Made a change to help address a problem where the preview in Personalization Settings sometimes unexpectedly showed you were using a black wallpaper when you weren’t.
- The font used in the Lock Screen Settings preview should now match the actual lock screen.
- Fixed a bug making all the icons in Quick Settings appear unexpectedly flipped for Insiders using the Arabic display language.
- Using the brightness slider in Quick Settings should now show a number as you’re adjusting, like it does with volume.
- File Explorer:
- Using mouse to open the context menu in File Explorer and on the desktop should no longer display a keyboard focus rectangle on first launch (until you start using the keyboard to navigate it).
- We’ve tweaked the context menu to address feedback that sometimes submenus were unexpectedly closing when you were trying to use them.
- Fixed a flicker where you could see New become New Item in the context menu.
- We’ve done some work on the context menu positioning logic so that submenus should no longer appear partially offscreen or unexpectedly far away.
- We fixed two issues impacting explorer.exe reliability when bringing up the context menu, including specifically when right-clicking on a zip file.
- Addressed an issue causing the “Unpin from Start” option when right clicking an app to not work.
- Fixed an issue making Search’s shadow appear boxy.
- Have adjusted the positioning of the Search window when the Taskbar is left aligned, so that it matches Start.
- We’ve addressed an issue where what was displaying when hovering over the Search icon in the Taskbar wasn’t in sync with what would actually launch when you clicked one of the entries.
- If you’ve launched websites using Search, those should now be properly displayed in the recent searches when hovering over the Search icon in the Taskbar.
- Made a change to address an issue where some Insiders were unexpectedly not seeing the brightness slider in Quick Settings after upgrading.
- We fixed an issue resulting in your widget configurations not getting saved and unexpectedly being reset.
- The widgets board and content should now be sized for the correct screen when using multiple monitors.
- Addressed an issue where sign-in wasn’t working for widgets in some scenarios due to authentication hanging.
- We’ve made another fix to address the clock in the widgets board not following your preferred format.
- Device Security should no longer say “Standard hardware security not supported” for Insiders with supported hardware.
- With this build the access keys for WIN + X (so that you can do things like “WIN + X M” to launch Device Manager) should now appear consistently.
- Fingerprint sign in should no longer stop working after rebooting your PC.
- Addressed an accessibility issue where keyboard focus would disappear from Start after pressing Tab then Shift + Tab.
- Fixed a bug causing the informational pop ups in voice typing to not dismiss on click.
- Fixed an infinite loop making some Insider’s devices hang during shutdown.
- We made an adjustment to help address an issue causing the title bar to not render correctly on certain apps.
- Made a fix to stop your wallpaper from flashing when switching between Desktops.
- Updated the snap layouts window to now use the default animation for flyouts instead of just popping in.
- Addressed an issue that was making Sticky Notes and Microsoft To Do crash on launch sometimes.
- Fixed a DWM memory leak that was happening when rotating your device back and forth between landscape and portrait mode.
- Made a change to address the issue where text could become truncated in the message dialog from Windows Update alerting that an update was ready.
- Window borders should now be displayed correctly when using high contrast.
- Turning off “Show shadows under windows” in Performance Options should now actually turn off the shadows under windows.
- We’ve made some tweaks to fix an issue where context menus and tooltip were appearing far from the mouse when using Windows with the Arabic display language.
- Addressed an issue where the network icons on the lock screen and login screen weren’t consistent.
- [REMINDER] When upgrading to Windows 11 from Windows 10 or when installing an update to Windows 11, some features may be deprecated or removed. See details here.
- In some cases, you might be unable to enter text when using Search from Start or the Taskbar. If you experience the issue, press WIN + R on the keyboard to launch the Run dialog box, then close it.
- System and Windows Terminal is missing when right-clicking on the Start button (WIN + X).
- The Taskbar will sometimes flicker when switching input methods.
- When launching the Settings app, a brief green flash may appear.
- When using Quick Settings to modify Accessibility settings, the settings UI may not save the selected state.
- Settings will crash when clicking “Facial recognition (Windows Hello)” under Sign-in Settings if Windows Hello is already set up.
- File Explorer:
- exe crashes in a loop for Insiders using the Turkish display language when battery charge is at 100%.
- The context menu sometimes doesn’t render completely and ends up truncated.
- Clicking a desktop icon or context menu entry may result in the wrong item being selected.
- After clicking the Search icon on the Taskbar, the Search panel may not open. If this occurs, restart the “Windows Explorer” process, and open the search panel again.
- When you hover your mouse over the Search icon on the Taskbar, recent searches may not be displayed. To work around the issue, restart your PC.
- Search panel might appear as black and not display any content below the search box.
- Widgets board may appear empty. To work around the issue, you can sign out and then sign back in again.
- Launching links from the widgets board may not invoke apps to the foreground.
- Widgets may be displayed in the wrong size on external monitors. If you encounter this, you can launch the widgets via touch or WIN + W shortcut on your actual PC display first and then launch on your secondary monitors.
- We are working to improve search relevance in the Store including resolving an issue where in some cases the ordering of search results is inaccurate.
- The install button might not be functional yet in some limited scenarios.
- Rating and reviews are not available for some apps.
- Windows Security
- “Automatic sample submission” is unexpectedly turned off when you restart your PC.
- Windows Hello (Face) may show an error saying “Something went wrong” when attempting to sign in after upgrading. To work around this, sign in with your password or PIN and:
- Open Device Manager.
- Uninstall “Windows Hello Face Software Device” under “Biometric devices”.
- There is an issue where some Insiders may be some missing translations from their user experience for a small subset of languages running the latest Insider Preview builds. To confirm if you have been impacted, please visit this Answers forum post and follow the steps for remediation.
That's it for today's cumulative update, it's nice to see Microsoft releasing new Windows 11 builds almost every week and we hope the OS will keep getting better with future flights. We're still waiting for the company to make Android apps available via the Amazon App Store, though, and we hope this exciting new capability will be available soon.
Top U.S. Catholic Church official resigns after cellphone data used to track him on Grindr and to gay bars
Monsignor Jeffrey Burrill has since last fall been the general secretary of the USCCB, a position that coordinates all administrative work and planning for the conference, which is the country’s network for Catholic bishops. As a priest, he takes a vow of celibacy. Catholic teaching opposes sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage.
Burrill was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
The National Catholic Reporter was the first to report Tuesday morning that Burrill had resigned, citing a memo from Archbishop José Gomez, the USCCB president, to other bishops. The Tuesday memo said it was “with sadness” that Gomez announced Burrill’s resignation, saying the day before, the USCCB staff learned of “impending media reports alleging possible improper behavior.”
Burrill is a priest from the La Crosse, Wis., diocese and was a parish priest and a professor before joining the administrative staff of the USCCB in 2016. Some USCCB staff and former staff said they were reeling and shocked.
USCCB spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi told The Washington Post on Tuesday afternoon it was Burrill’s decision to resign, and came after allegations of his “improper behavior” were brought to the USCCB by the Pillar, a Catholic news site.
“However, to avoid becoming a distraction to the operations and ongoing work of the Conference, Monsignor has resigned effective immediately,” read the statement from Gomez. “The Conference takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and will pursue all appropriate steps to address them.”
It wasn’t clear who had collected the information about Burrill. USCCB spokespeople declined to answer questions Tuesday about what it knew about the information-gathering and what its leadership feels about it, except to say the USCCB wasn’t involved. They also declined to comment on whether they knew if Burrill’s alleged actions were tracked on a private or church-owned phone.
The resignation stemmed from reporting in the Pillar, an online newsletter that reports on the Catholic Church. Tuesday afternoon, after Burrill’s resignation became public, the Pillar reported that it had obtained information based on the data Grindr collects from its users, and hired an independent firm to authenticate it.
“A mobile device correlated to Burrill emitted app data signals from the location-based hookup app Grindr on a near-daily basis during parts of 2018, 2019, and 2020 — at both his USCCB office and his USCCB-owned residence, as well as during USCCB meetings and events in other cities,” the Pillar reported.
“The data obtained and analyzed by The Pillar conveys mobile app date signals during two 26-week periods, the first in 2018 and the second in 2019 and 2020. The data was obtained from a data vendor and authenticated by an independent data consulting firm contracted by The Pillar,” the site reported. It did not identify who the vendor was or if the site bought the information or got it from a third party.
The Pillar story says app data “correlated” to Burrill’s phone shows the priest visited gay bars, including while traveling for the USCCB.
Grindr did not respond immediately Tuesday to questions.
Privacy experts have long raised concerns about “anonymized” data collected by apps and sold to or shared with aggregators and marketing companies. While the information is typically stripped of obviously identifying fields, like a user’s name or phone number, it can contain everything from age and gender to a device ID. It’s possible for experts to de-anonymize some of this data and connect it to real people.
No federal laws prohibit buying this data, said Jennifer King, a privacy and data policy fellow at the Stanford University Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. While some state laws may regulate the use of this kind of information, she said those tend to focus on stalking scenarios. King said the publication of location data from Burrill’s phone serves as a reminder that anyone with a cellphone whose location data is turned on is not truly anonymous.
Patrick Jackson, chief technology officer of the privacy-protection firm Disconnect, said he was unaware of other instances of phone data being de-anonymized and reported publicly but expects it to happen more frequently.
“It unleashes this chain that a user cannot stop because they don’t even know that it was collected in the first place and they have no idea where this data actually lives,” Jackson said. “But it’s out there, and it’s for sale.”
On Monday, the Catholic News Agency — the previous employer of Pillar journalists — published an unsourced story raising issues within the church about privacy and people allegedly tracking members of the clergy to catch those who use hookup apps such as Grindr. The story said “a person concerned with reforming the Catholic clergy approached some Church individuals and organizations” including CNA starting in 2018.
The report comes the same week as The Post and other organizations reported that military-grade spyware normally leased to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives and others, revealing new concerns and issues around technology and privacy and democracy.
TOKYO—Having a robot read scripture to mourners seemed like a cost-effective idea to the people at Nissei Eco Co., a plastics manufacturer with a sideline in the funeral business.
The company hired child-sized robot Pepper, clothed it in the vestments of Buddhist clergy and programmed it to chant several sutras, or Buddhist scriptures, depending on the sect of the deceased.
Alas, the robot, made by SoftBank Group Corp., kept breaking down during practice runs. “What if it refused to operate in the middle of a ceremony?” said funeral-business manager Osamu Funaki. “It would be such a disaster.”
Pepper was fired. The company ended its lease of the robot and sent it back to the manufacturer. After a rash of similar mishaps across Japan, in which Pepper botched its job at a nursing home and gave baseball fans a creepy feeling, some people are saying the humanoid itself will need a funeral soon.
“Because it has the shape of a person, people expect the intelligence of a human,” said Takayuki Furuta, head of the Future Robotics Technology Center at Chiba Institute of Technology, which wasn’t involved in Pepper’s development. “The level of the technology completely falls short of that. It’s like the difference between a toy car and an actual car.”
The robotics unit of SoftBank, a Tokyo-based technology investor, said in late June that it halted production of Pepper last year and was planning to restructure its global robotics teams, including a French unit involved in Pepper’s development.
Still, the company says the machine shouldn’t be sent to the product graveyard. Spokeswoman Ai Kitamura said Pepper is SoftBank’s icon and still doing good work as a teacher and a temperature taker at hospitals. She declined to comment on any of its individual mishaps.
SoftBank introduced the humanoid to the world in 2014 and started selling it the next year. “Today might become a day that people 100, 200 or 300 years later would remember as a historic day,” SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son said at the introduction.
SoftBank sold the robots to individuals for about $2,000, plus monthly fees for subscription services, and rented them to businesses starting at $550 a month.
Japan has had a love affair with humanlike robots going back to Astro Boy, a robot featured in a 1960s animated television series, but there have also been breakups.
Honda Motor Co. ’s Asimo once kicked a soccer ball to then-President Barack Obama. Toshiba Corp.’s Aiko Chihira, an android with a woman’s name and appearance, briefly worked as a department store receptionist. After a while, both disappeared.
More recently, a Japanese hotel chain created a robot-operated hotel, with dinosaur-shaped robots handling front-desk duties, only to reverse course after the plan failed to save money and created more work for humans.
Pepper was given a perky demeanor and programmed to grasp human emotions and engage in basic conversation. It starred in some early demonstrations. But like a candidate who puts on a fine performance at his job interview only to drive his bosses crazy later, Pepper lacked the skills it said it had, say some of his managers.
In 2016, a Tokyo-area nursing-home operator called Ittokai introduced three units of Pepper, each at a cost of around $900 a month, to lead singing and exercises for elderly people at the home.
“Users got excited to have it early on because of its novelty,” said Masataka Iida, an executive at the company. “But they lost interest sooner than expected.” Mr. Iida said Pepper’s repertoire of exercise moves was limited and, owing to mechanical errors, it sometimes took unplanned breaks in the middle of its shift. After three years, the company pulled the plug. Pepper holds its hands up for residents to follow its moves during an exercise routine at a nursing home in Tokyo.
At Mizuho Financial Group Inc., reporters were invited to a ceremony in 2015 when Pepper was introduced as a Mizuho employee and stationed in the bank lobby, with an employee card hanging around its neck, to recommend financial products to customers. Today Pepper is no longer with the bank, according to a spokeswoman who declined to elaborate.
SoftBank also touted Pepper as a companion for the home. The initial batch of 1,000 units sold out in a minute despite the hefty price tag.
Technology journalist Tsutsumu Ishikawa said he “fell in love at first sight” after seeing Mr. Son, the SoftBank chief, present a futuristic picture of living with a chatty Pepper.
After arriving at the Ishikawa home, however, Pepper couldn’t recognize the faces of family members or carry on a proper conversation, said Mr. Ishikawa. The robot, connected to the cloud, is supposed to remember the family even after a breakdown, Mr. Ishikawa says, but when Pepper returned home after the repair of a sensor, Pepper greeted him, “Nice to meet you!”
He shipped the robot back to SoftBank in 2018 after spending at least $9,000 over the three-year life of his subscription services agreement; he wasn’t eligible for any form of refund.
“It was such a waste of money. I still regret it,” he said.
On flea-market sites, old Peppers are available for a few hundred dollars, typically without SoftBank service contracts and meant as home or office decoration or playthings for children to take apart.
Industry watchers say home smart speakers or smartphone assistants carry out many of Pepper’s functions more reliably and at lower cost. Dr. Furuta, the robot technology expert, said if Pepper were meant as entertainment, it would have been better if it looked like a dog or stuffed animal to avoid raising expectations.
Some companies are taking that advice. One former SoftBank Robotics executive leads a startup that makes a round-shaped pet-like robot called Lovot. It is supposed to cheer up humans but isn’t meant to help them get work done. Panasonic Corp.’s Nicobo, introduced this year, is designed as a vulnerable creature that draws out its owner’s caring instinct. Its abilities include making sounds of flatulence.
SoftBank Robotics says Pepper still works teaching children and entertaining diners at a Pepper-themed cafe in Tokyo, among other jobs. And during the pandemic, Pepper found a niche as a concierge at hotels where Covid-19 patients were housed and human staff were trying to keep their distance.
Pepper may also make an appearance at the Olympic Games that kick off later this month in Tokyo, but SoftBank Robotics declined to make any details public.
The company has dispatched 100 Pepper cheerleaders to the home of SoftBank’s professional baseball team, the SoftBank Hawks, in Fukuoka in the south of Japan. The stadium is sparsely filled because of Covid-19 restrictions. Ms. Kitamura, the SoftBank Robotics spokeswoman, said the robots could raise enthusiasm without adding to infection risk.
Online, though, commenters said the scene reminded them of a dystopia. Hirofumi Miyato, 56, of Tokyo, was watching a game on television and saw the Pepper group in team uniforms moving their arms in unison. He wasn’t inspired to cheer along.
“It reminded me of a military parade in North Korea or China,” Mr. Miyato said. “It felt creepy.”
Dark web sites linked to the REvil ransomware gang were not operating Tuesday morning, CNBC has confirmed.
It is not clear what led to the websites of the ransomware-as-service group going down Tuesday. Visitors to the sites, which had recently been active, were greeted with messages saying, “A server with the specified hostname could not be found.”
The disappearance of the public-facing sites affiliated with Russia-linked REvil, also known as Sodinokibi, comes on the heels of an international ransomware outbreak on July 2 that the group had taken credit for.
A National Security Council official declined to comment to CNBC on Tuesday morning.
On Friday, President Joe Biden was asked by a reporter if it “makes sense” for the United States to attack the computer servers that have hosted ransomware attacks.
“Yes,” Biden answered.
A National Security Council official later that same day told reporters that U.S. authorities expected to take action against ransomware groups soon.
“We’re not going to telegraph what those actions will be precisely,” that official said.
“Some of them will be manifest and visible, some of them may not be. But we expect them to take place in the days and weeks ahead.”
John Hultquist of Mandiant Threat Intelligence told CNBC on Tuesday, “The situation is still unfolding, but evidence suggests REvil has suffered a planned, concurrent takedown of their infrastructure, either by the operators themselves or via industry or law enforcement action.”
“If this was a disruption operation of some kind, full details may never come to light,” Hultquist added in an email.
He also said an analysis shows that “known websites associated with the REvil ransomware RaaS are offline or non-responsive.”
“REvil’s darknet (.onion) and clearnet (decoder.re) websites are offline, and although we have no visibility into exactly how their darknet sites have been taken down their clearnet site’s domain has simply ceased resolving to an IP address and its dedicated name servers are still online,” Hultquist said.
In addition to the July 2 attack, the REvil group also is believed to have recently attacked computers belonging to JBS, forcing the world’s largest meatpacking company to shut down operations in the United States for one day in June, and also disrupted operations in Australia.
JBS paid the equivalent of $11 million in ransom to get the gang to undo the attack.
Bleeping Computer’s Lawrence Abrams had tweeted earlier Tuesday that REvil sites were down.
Several cybersecurity officials later confirmed that report to CNBC.
Ransomware attacks involve malware that encrypts files on a device or network that results in the system becoming inoperable. Criminals behind these types of cyberattacks typically demand a payment in exchange for the release of data.
The FBI has previously warned victims of ransomware attacks that paying a ransom could encourage further malicious activity.
The latest ransomware attack, disclosed earlier this month by Florida-based software provider Kaseya, spread to at least six European countries and breached the networks of thousands across the United States.
In May, a hacking group known as DarkSide with suspected ties to Russian criminals launched a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, forcing the U.S. company to shut down approximately 5,500 miles of pipeline.
It led to a disruption of nearly half of the East Coast’s fuel supply and caused gasoline shortages in the Southeast and airline disruptions. Colonial Pipeline paid $5 million in ransom to the cybercriminals in order to restart operations.
A few weeks after the attack, U.S. law enforcement officials were able to recover $2.3 million in bitcoin from the hacker group.
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As we all know that we don't have enough space on earth to farm, that's why we're going to invade other planets, even the moon to continue our shortage of food. Since we finished the global hanger in some areas of the world, probably we want to resolve the hanger of other planet's citizens. it's our mission to take care of our alien neighbors. Hashtag Alien's life matters.
Space agencies from various countries have spent decades developing the technologies necessary to bring farming indoors, and now the German space agency and NASA are pushing the state-of-the-art of soil-free gardening to its limits with a greenhouse in Antarctica and laying the groundwork for their next act: farming systems where the farmers are optional.
NASA has worked to advance space agriculture, in part because a robust plant collection could serve as the ultimate multipurpose life-support system, producing calories and nutrients to eat, making oxygen to breathe and taking carbon dioxide from the air.
“NASA was genuinely in front of the curve on this, promoting their use for these applications,” says Raymond Wheeler, a horticultural scientist who has studied space agriculture at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for decades.
In the late 1980s, Wheeler worked on a KSC team that grew wheat, potatoes, soybeans and other crops with their roots immersed in a nutrient solution, stacked on four rows of shelves inside a large cylindrical chamber — likely the first execution of a vertical farming system that has now developed into a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Focusing on ways to sustainably meet the ever-growing demand for food, companies around indoor vertical farming has seen a boom in recent years. New York-based start-up Bowery Farming announced a $300 million funding round in June, the largest in the industry thus far, valuing the company at $2.3 billion. Kimbal Musk, brother of Elon Musk, is the co-founder of Square Roots. Newark-based AeroFarms in April broke ground on a 136,000-square-foot-farm in Virginia set to open in 2022 that it says will be the largest aeroponic indoor vertical farm in the world.
Antarctic robots and raising crops for other worlds
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) sent twin shipping containers to Antarctica in the fall of 2017 in what amounted to a remote dress rehearsal for raising crops on another world.
The EDEN-ISS Antarctic greenhouse, now entering its fourth growing season, continues to prove that you do not need fertile ground or even sunlight to produce vegetables. It builds upon the LED blend pioneered by the early NASA experiments to deliver “recipes” tuned to the needs of each specific vegetable with programmable arrays of red and blue lights.
Roots poke through beds of fibrous minerals and dangle into empty trays below, where automated nozzles spray them with a nutrient-rich mist every few seconds. Water is largely recycled, except when the nutrient solution gets depleted and needs to be dumped and replaced every few months. The entire system plugs into the neighboring German Neumeyer III research station, from which it continuously draws about 10 kilowatts of power — comparable to eight U.S. households.
The first year, a DLR researcher named Paul Zabel ran the 135-square-foot greenhouse and collected nearly 600 pounds of veggies including cucumbers, lettuces, other leafy greens, tomatoes, radishes and herbs.
But despite the greenhouse’s automated lighting, watering, and fertilizing systems, Zabel still spent three to four hours a day just keeping EDEN-ISS functioning, Schubert says. And in space, human labor will be just as precious a resource as water and air.
Having an AI system taking care of the greenhouse is preferred, according to Daniel Schubert, the project coordinator of the Antarctica experiment, “in the case that the astronauts just have no time.”
This year, NASA has sent one of their own researchers, Jess Bunchek, to test out the U.S. space agency’s preferred strains of space veggies in EDEN-ISS. Another major research goal will be to collect detailed data of what tasks take up the most time. Bunchek will carry an eight-sided programmable timer that she will use to track the hours she spends on eight categories of work.
One of the major time-sinks has been repairing breakdowns, or “off-nominal events” in the doublespeak of space exploration. A burst pipe, for instance, might take all day to fix. Topping the list of lessons learned from EDEN-ISS is that future facilities need to be simpler. “We will definitely scale down the technology complexity for a space greenhouse,” Schubert says.
Space imaging for plant stress
Next in the pipeline, DLR is currently designing a new facility — a semi-inflatable, space-rated cylinder — with a few new tricks.
One improvement will be advanced remote monitoring. Anna-Lisa Paul and her colleagues at the UF Space Plants Lab are developing software that can take GoPro images and recognize how a plant’s appearance changes with stress. When a plant needs water or has been exposed to too much salt, the colors of light it absorbs and reflects shift subtly in ways imperceptible to the human eye. But the lab’s system can spot salt stress in just fifteen minutes, and drought stress in about an hour, according to Natasha Sng, a researcher at the Space Plants Lab, much earlier than a human can.
The researchers have been testing their system at EDEN-ISS, but the greenhouse has been running too smoothly to know how well the monitoring system works. “We’ve been watching a lot of success happen,” says Robert Ferl, co-director of the Space Plants Lab.
Soon, the researchers plan to introduce intentional malfunctions and see if the lab’s system can catch them.
In another major step toward automation, the DLR is developing robotic arms to be mounted on a rail suspended from the greenhouse roof. These dexterous machines, powered by AI, would photograph the plants from various angles, prune dead leaves and shoots, and even harvest produce, which Schubert estimates are the most time-consuming activities after repairs.
The end goal is a greenhouse that, if not completely autonomous, could at least be run fully by operators on Earth. Such a facility could touch down on the moon or Mars ahead of astronauts and have a basket of cucumbers and tomatoes ready for their arrival. Astronauts would have the option of gardening, which can bolster mental health, but the crops should be able to thrive on their own when astronauts have more pressing tasks.
The DLR’s roadmap aims to have their next-generation facility ready to fly by 2030. “I still need to send [Elon] Musk an email and ask if we can design his greenhouse,” Schubert said.
And developing the ability to farm in space isn’t purely about going to Mars. A two-way street has always connected space agriculture with industrial agriculture. As climate change makes many areas of the globe less suitable for farming, the technology to split food production from weather and natural resources will likely become more essential.
“My dream would be that we all live in ecological biospheres on our own,” Schubert says. “We would be completely independent from the planet Earth, and we would leave Earth to its own so it can recover.”Source:
The Development of using your personal data to "Improve" some services is beyond explaining in 2021 and the feature is not promising in terms of using your personal information. The hardest part that you have no control over any of these services.
On May 26, The national hospital chain announced a data-sharing partnership that will allow Google to access a host of patient records and real-time medical information. Both companies believe that will help improve patient treatments and outcomes.
I'm not really sure what type of information they will need to record from our "Medical records" that will help them to improve our outcomes and what they call a "Better treatment"
But what I'm sure about that Google has some sort of bad history in terms of using our personal data. Google has what so-called Project Nightingale, Google has collected and monetized sensitive patient data from millions of Americans The new HCA Agreement is more or less the same, it will put a huge number of new patient data into Google's hands.
The American people have nothing to do but "Trust" the data security that has been mentioned by the data privacy laws. But maybe everyone should ask themselves if that is enough or have some concerns regarding our data privacy to some serious degree!
On their defending side, they claim that data sharing between large corporations offers opportunities to better understand trends in patient outcomes and improve decision-making for patient care. The HCA's chief medical officer stated the agreement is designed to create a
“central nervous system to help interpret the various signals” of patient data.
Will they use that "just for this "logical" reason? - We have no idea
Back in 2019 around 42 million healthcare records were exposed and stolen or maybe illegally sold. It's not clear enough for me all their security methods to protect our data, It's not clear for us if we have the choice to say "NO" we don't want to share our personal medical data. We don't know how they're going to store, save, use our data in detail. According to Pew Research Foundation, more than half of Americans have no clear understanding of how their data is used once it has been collected. Will they use it for Advertisements, AI, Big Data!?
I'm not saying we will not have any benefit but at the same time, we should raise our voice and say "We are concerned" it's our right to know more!
A few years ago we heard that Spotify is using some type of algorithm to shape your entire experience like certain suggestions, your favorite mix, etc. And of course the aim to keep you using the service for as long as you could.
The AI technology that they were using called BrAT (“Bandits for Recommendations as Treatments”), the main aim of this technology is organizing each home screen in a personalized way for each user like “best of artists” or “keep the vibe going,” and the order the playlists appear on those shelves. Its whole purpose is to give you music that Spotify is confident you’ll like, based on your previous listening activity, at the same time looping new music so you don't get bored listening to the same kind of music over and over.
The company makes it clear in research that the success of all these algorithmic services is only possible because every action you make on the service is tracked and logged.
Brian Whitman, who co-founded The Echo Nest, the startup Spotify acquired for $100 million in 2014 to get better at recommendations, wrote in 2012 that his service scoured more than 10 million music-related web pages a day in order to understand what was happening in the world of music.
“Every word anyone utters on the internet about music goes through our systems that look for descriptive terms, noun phrases, and other text,” Whitman wrote.
Spotify studied data from more than 16 million users, tracking their listening patterns from December 2016 to February 2018, including how many times someone streamed a specific artist or song per day and what U.S. state they were in, according to a study published April 2019.
There are a lot of details but you got the point that your data is being used, BUT it didn't stop to that level. Let me explain to you
Spotify can detect your location-based information then, it can play the music that it might think it would be suitable for you. not just that but they can detect your surrounding by collecting your voice data and the AI can recommend a certain type of music, not to mention using your sound, and every single detail around you to "improve" their services as always. Let's say you're chilling by the beach, it can play, suggest a certain type of music for you, you're sad, depressed, they will suggest some certain music for you. And you're in your bedroom, Uhmm, With your wife, Uhmm, I'm not sure what they will play for you, haven't tried it yet. However it might be an interesting experience or If you're a person who at least has some sense of "Hey! Privacy please" then, that might be an issue for you. with the AI development, face recognition, you can never know.
Last but not least, Dear Big tech companies, "Some Privacy Please"
Microsoft has released new Thuesday security fixes to resolve these issues including the six zero-days. People accounted for serious issues with Microsoft Office, Outlook, Excel, SharePoint, even Edge browser.
Microsoft tracked these issues and the patches are listed down below:
- CVE-2021-33742: Windows MSHTML Platform Remote Code Execution Vulnerability, CVSS 7.5
- CVE-2021-33739: Microsoft DWM Core Library Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability, CVSS 8.4
- CVE-2021-31199: Microsoft Enhanced Cryptographic Provider Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability, CVSS 5.2
- CVE-2021-31201: Microsoft Enhanced Cryptographic Provider Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability, CVSS 5.2
- CVE-2021-31955: Windows Kernel Information Disclosure Vulnerability, CVSS 5.5
- CVE-2021-31956: Windows NTFS Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability, CVSS 7.8
It's essential to NOT ignore the latest updates including another zero-day reported by Microsoft, but not actively exploited in the wild, is CVE-2021-31968. Issued a CVSS score of 7.5, this flaw, now patched, could be exploited to trigger denial-of-service.