Latest ‘Simply Windows’ video can help you make your PC easier to use | Windows Experience Blog

The newest “Simply Windows” video is now available, focusing on ways to customize the settings on your PC. 
If you’re new to Windows 10 or want to learn more about how to get the most out of it, this video series can help you get up to speed on using it. 

In this episode, writers Jackie Tidwell and Doug Thomas help viewers change the size of text in Windows 10, increase contrast on their screens and show you how Microsoft Edge can read webpages to you, among other things you can personalize in the Ease of Access settings. 
Find out more about “Simply Windows” and check out a playlist of previous shows. 
And if you like this, check out other Windows 10 Tips. 

What’s the biggest cybersecurity threat in 2020? Experts weigh in

Every day, CISOs must decide which cyberthreats to prioritize in their organizations. When it comes to choosing which threats are the most concerning, the list from which to choose from is nearly boundless.

At RSA Conference 2020, speakers discussed several of the most concerning threats this year, from ransomware and election hacking to supply chain attacks and beyond. To pursue the topic of concerning threats, SearchSecurity asked several experts at the conference what they considered to be the biggest cybersecurity threat today.

“It has to be ransomware,” CrowdStrike CTO Mike Sentonas said. “It may not be the most complex attack, but what organizations are facing around the world is a huge increase in e-crime activity, specifically around the use of ransomware. The rise over the last twelve months has been incredible, simply because of the amount of money there is to be made.”

Trend Micro vice president of cybersecurity Greg Young agreed.

“It has to be ransomware, definitely. Quick money. We’ve certainly seen a change of focus where the people who are least able to defend themselves, state and local governments, particularly in some of the poorer areas, budgets are low and the bad guys focus on that,” he said. “The other thing is I think there’s much more technological capability than there used to be. There’s fewer toolkits and fewer flavors of attacks but they’re hitting more people and they’re much more effective, so I think there’s much more efficiency and effectiveness with what the bad guys are doing now.”

Sentonas added that he expects the trend of ransomware to continue.

“We’ve seen different ransomware groups or e-crime groups that are delivering ransomware have campaigns that have generated over $5 million, we’ve seen campaigns that have generated over $10 million. So with so much money to be made, in many ways, I don’t like saying it, but in many ways it’s easy for them to do it. So that’s driving the huge increase and focus on ransomware. I think, certainly for the next 12 to 24 months, this trend will continue. The rise of ransomware is showing no signs it’s going to slow down,” Sentonas explained.

“Easy” might just be the key word here. The biggest threat to cybersecurity, according to BitSight vice president of communications and government affairs Jake Olcott, is that companies “are still struggling with doing the basics” when it comes to cybersecurity hygiene.

“Look at all the major examples — Equifax, Baltimore, the list could go on — where it was not the case of a sophisticated adversary targeting an organization with a zero-day malware that no one had seen before. It might have been an adversary targeting an organization with malware that was just exploiting known vulnerabilities. I think the big challenge a lot of companies have is just doing the basics,” Olcott said.

Lastly, Akamai CTO Patrick Sullivan said that the biggest threat in cybersecurity is that to the supply chain, as highlighted at Huawei’s panel discussion at RSAC.

“The big trend is people are looking at their supply chain,” he said. “Like, what is the risk to the third parties you’re partnering with, to the code you’re developing with partners, so I think it’s about looking beyond that first circle to the second circle of your supply chain and your business partners.”

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Researchers develop new side channel attacks on AMD chips

The steady stream of side channel attacks on microprocessors continued last week, and this time it’s AMD chips that are at risk.

Academic researchers published research Friday that revealed two new side channel attacks, dubbed Collide+Probe and Load+Reload, affect AMD chips manufactured between 2011 and 2019, including those that use the company’s current Zen microarchitecture. The attacks allow threat actors to access and steal confidential data from the chip’s memory.

In their white paper, titled “Take A Way: Exploring the Security Implications of AMD’s Cache Way Predictors,” the researchers analyzed AMD’s way predictor for the L1-data (L1D) cache, which was introduced in 2011; the feature predicts which cache way a specific address will be located in so that the chip’s power consumption is reduced. The research team reverse-engineered the L1D cache way predictor and discovered two different side channel attacks, which were disclosed to AMD on Aug. 23.

“With Collide+Probe, an attacker can monitor a victim’s memory accesses without knowledge of physical addresses or shared memory when time-sharing a logical core,” the team wrote. “With Load+Reload, we exploit the way predictor to obtain highly-accurate memory-access traces of victims on the same physical core.”

The attacks, which can be conducted remotely and do not require physical access, could be used in a variety of ways to leak or steal data from systems with vulnerable chips, according to the white paper. The researchers demonstrated how they used the attacks to recover the encryption key, create a covert data exfiltration channel, and break address space layout randomization (ASLR) and kernel ASLR implementations, which enables additional attacks on the CPU.

The researchers stressed the chip hardware wasn’t leaking data; instead, the L1D cache way predictor allows attackers to infer the access pattern of data and exploit that information for malicious purposes. The new side channel attacks are exclusive to AMD chips, as Intel and ARM do not have a cache way predictor.

The research team includes Moritz Lipp, Vedad Hadžić, Michael Schwarz and Daniel Gruss of Graz University of Technology in Austria; Clémentine Maurice of the French National Centre for Scientific Research and IRISA [Research Institute of Computer Science and Random Systems] in France; and Arthur Perais, an independent security researcher. Lipp, Schwarz and Gruss were part of the Meltdown and Spectre discovery teams and have been researching side channel attacks such as ASLR bypasses since 2016. Maurice was also involved in discovering and researching early side channel attacks such as Rowhammer variant Nethammer.

AMD pushes back on research

While Collide+Probe and Load+Reload pose serious threats to vulnerable systems, several of the researchers said via social media that the side channel attacks are not a severe as Meltdown and Spectre. For example, Gruss said on Twitter Collide+Probe and Load+Reload impact far less data than Meltdown and ZombieLoad.

In a security advisory posted Saturday, AMD appeared to downplay the new side channel attacks. “We are aware of a new white paper that claims potential security exploits in AMD CPUs, whereby a malicious actor could manipulate a cache-related feature to potentially transmit user data in an unintended way. The researchers then pair this data path with known and mitigated software or speculative execution side channel vulnerabilities,” the security advisory stated. “AMD believes these are not new speculation-based attacks.”

AMD has not released any microcode patches to mitigate Collide+Probe and Load+Reload and instead recommended customers follow “best practices” such as keeping operating systems, firmware and applications up to date and running antivirus software.

Gruss contested AMD’s characterization of the attacks and noted via Twitter that Collide+Probe and Load+Reload are side channel attacks, not “speculative execution attacks.”

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Women of Microsoft Quantum (Part 2)

In honor of International Women’s Day, Microsoft is proud to recognize some of the amazing women of Microsoft Quantum. These engineers, scientists, program managers and business leaders are working toward realizing Microsoft’s mission of building a scalable quantum computer and global quantum community to help solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.

Last year, we introduced you to some of the women working on quantum software; this year we’re profiling more women delivering impact in the Microsoft Quantum program, across quantum hardware, software, partnerships, and business development.

This is the second of a two-part series. In case you missed it, meet The Women of Microsoft Quantum in Part 1.

Sydney Schreppler – Quantum Hardware Engineer

Sydney Schreppler bio picture

Sydney Schreppler bio pictureQ: Tell us more about your role in the Microsoft Quantum group. What exciting things are you working on right now?

I am a Quantum Engineer working as part of a global hardware team that characterizes quantum materials for the development of our topological qubit technology. Our team measures electrical transport properties in cryogenic environments, probing the quantum nature of the materials. Right now I’m excited to be working in Redmond, where, together with the Quantum Systems team, we span Microsoft’s full quantum stack, from our topological qubit layer at the very bottom all the way up to the algorithms offered in Azure Quantum.

Q: What was it that attracted you to the technology field? How and why did you decide to join the domain of quantum computing?

Long before I knew I wanted to study physics, people around me seemed to know it. I think it was because I was always asking for simple explanations for how the world worked and because I liked to understand those answers through a mathematical lens. Once I started studying physics, the more I learned, the simpler and more elegant the explanations got.

What attracted me to quantum measurements first, and later to quantum computing, was the idea that something that seemed so non-intuitive and mysterious was nonetheless observable, and even useful! I wanted to see quantum effects for myself, so as a college student, I sought out opportunities in labs measuring quantum things. And once I had “seen” quantum, I was hooked. I measured the quantum mechanical motion of tiny membranes, the interaction of ultracold atoms with laser light (obtaining my Ph.D. in physics along the way), and the quantum entanglement of superconducting circuits. Now at Microsoft, I get to harness these same kinds of measurements to develop our quantum hardware.

Amrita Singh – Quantum Hardware Engineer

Amrita Singh bio picture

Amrita Singh bio picture

Q: Tell us more about your role in the Microsoft Quantum group. What exciting things are you working on right now?

I am a hardware engineer and coordinate the substrate fabrication activities with a small team of nanofabrication engineers at Microsoft Quantum Labs – Delft. We engineer the substrates and create a platform for selective area growth of a high-quality III-V semiconductor/ superconductor hybrid network, which is a building block of the topological quantum qubit.

Q: What was it that attracted you to the technology field? How and why did you decide to join the domain of quantum computing?

I was born and raised in a remote rural village in northern India where a girl’s education wasn’t important and the only expectation from a girl was to get married at an early age, raise children, and at the most, become a primary school teacher in the village. Mathematics and Science were considered to be boys’ subjects and weren’t even available as an option until the senior year at my all-girls school when I started. I was fortunate though, in that they were introduced a year before I reached my final year.

I studied science in my school to prove my worthiness as much as the boys in the neighborhood, but didn’t fully believe in it because it conflicted with my belief in God and other superstitions. But I always loved mathematics because of its precision, as no belief could justify 2+2≠4.

My exposure to technology was very limited and I had my first encounter with computers during my Masters (Physics) degree at IIT Delhi. During my Ph.D. in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics, I started appreciating the power of scientific attitude when I would verify a hypothesis with experimental data. Being an experimental physicist, I would feel restless for my blind faith and that is when I started to question my deep-rooted superstitions and religious beliefs, getting rid of them over the course of about four to five years. This was only possible due to my career choice in Science and Technology and it has shaped me into who I am today.

I did my Ph.D. on quantum devices for spintronic application and I extended my knowledge to superconducting spintronics during my postdoc work at Leiden University, where I gained expertise in interface engineering for hybrid quantum devices. I believed that, with my diverse background in quantum physics and device engineering, I would be able to contribute toward the realization of an ambitious topological quantum computer at Microsoft, as well as be able to learn and grow without limit by working with great minds.

Science for me is not just a profession but a way of living. I strongly believe that we could change the lives of millions of unprivileged deserving children in the world by giving quality education and bring them into the mainstream by using technologies.

Aarthi Meenakshi Sundaram – Researcher

Aarthi Meenakshi Sundaram bio picture

Aarthi Meenakshi Sundaram bio picture

Q: Tell us more about your role in the Microsoft Quantum group. What exciting things are you working on right now?

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Research and Applications team at Microsoft Quantum, where my overarching goal is to understand both the power and limitations of using quantum computers to solve some of our most challenging problems. Sometimes, this means defining efficient quantum algorithms for various problems. Other times, this means defining a mathematically rigorous computational model and analyzing which problems are “easy” or “difficult” in this model à la complexity theory.

Currently, I am looking forward to tackling both aspects in the context of quantum machine learning. It’s a nascent but rapidly evolving area with new algorithms being discovered and comes with its own set of challenges for us to understand precisely what kinds of learning problems can be sped up with quantum resources and to what extent. In classical computational learning theory, there are many well-established models of learning. Inevitably, we find that there may be various ways to “quantize” these models (i.e., add some “quantum magic” to these models, and each way could be useful in vastly different scenarios – some abstract/mathematical, some very real and even implementable in the near-term on quantum computers! Investigating these in all their variations is what excites me right now.

On a slightly different track, I also care about building tools that could help to efficiently verify quantum programs – through type checking or other methods. One of the main challenges is that any quantum program debugger that observes or measures how a quantum state is manipulated in the program could destroy the quantum nature of the state itself. Another challenge is that certain techniques that work well on small quantum programs will scale badly with the size of our program and could take too long to verify realistically. So, along with my collaborators here, we are investigating ways to build efficient type checkers that could provide us with the ability to verify some, if not all of the properties of interest in a quantum program.

Q: What was it that attracted you to the technology field? How and why did you decide to join the domain of quantum computing?

I have been reliably informed by my mother that, as a 4- or 5-year old, I took great joy in sitting on her lap and helping her with her programming work by entering the programs into our computer at home and marveling at this new object that knew how to follow my orders (or throw error messages!) So, while I don’t remember ever having to make a conscious choice to work in the world of computing, it has always seemed like a foregone conclusion in my mind, leading to my Math and Computer Science majors during undergrad.

For the first time at my university, one of my professors offered a course in quantum information and computing. I had just started getting interested in cryptography then and being introduced to this new computing model that could break state-of-the-art cryptosystems was a revelation! I was intrigued by this field that almost sounded like something out of science fiction and seemed so counterintuitive, at first.

Encouraged by my professor to pursue it beyond that one course, it was a natural progression for me to eventually pursue a Ph.D. in quantum complexity theory. It allowed me to blend the skills I had learned from both of my undergrad majors seamlessly. Being interested in the more abstract and theoretical aspects of computer science, I spent my Ph.D. analyzing the power of quantum analogs of various computational models. A continuous inspiration since I’ve delved more into quantum computing is that by living at the intersection and cutting edge of many different fields, one gets to work and learn from people whose expertise is vastly different than your own. With Microsoft Quantum’s aim of delivering a full stack of quantum services, that means, I am thrilled for the opportunity to interact with everyone from material scientists to mathematicians within the team.

Judith Suter – Senior Researcher

Judith Suter bio picture

Judith Suter bio picture

Q: Tell us more about your role in the Microsoft Quantum group. What exciting things are you working on right now?

In my work as a Senior Researcher in the Microsoft Quantum Hardware Program, I focus mainly on electrical characterization of different device types, materials, and fabrication processes. My days revolve around planning and designing experiments, running and optimizing low-temperature measurements, and exploring the resulting aggregated data. As part of a global team, another element of my job is cross-site collaboration where we leverage the diverse expertise of the whole team to collectively tackle challenging projects.

Recently I also became part of the Azure Hardware Systems and Infrastructure Diversity and Inclusion Council, where I represent the Quantum Hardware Program. I am excited to help drive the efforts towards the ambitious goals of Microsoft to fuel systemic change, widen our pipelines to reach and engage a diverse group of people, and transform our culture to ensure that everyone feels welcome and valued.

Q: What was it that attracted you to the technology field? How and why did you decide to join the domain of quantum computing?

My path to working on quantum computing was not without detours. As a high school student, I was fascinated by surrealist painters and the strange but self-consistent worlds they portrayed, so I commenced my studies at an arts and graphic design academy. Eventually, I left, longing to do something completely different, something I knew nothing about. I signed up for an undergraduate degree in Nanoscience, where I felt I could get a taste of different scientific fields. There, quantum physics intrigued me from the start: counterintuitive concepts born out of creative boldness – surprisingly, some lectures ended up reminding me of my art classes studying surrealism. I was hooked. I bought a one-way ticket to the epicenter of quantum physics, the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, joined Prof. Charles Marcus’ lab there at the Center for Quantum Devices and started my training to become a quantum physicist.

Vicky Svidenko – Partner Quantum Data Sciences

a woman smiling for the camera

a woman smiling for the camera

Q: Tell us more about your role in the Microsoft Quantum group. What exciting things are you working on right now?

I am leading the Quantum Systems Integration team – helping to accelerate quantum research and development. The Microsoft Quantum group is exploring ways to build a full-stack quantum computer and has become the world’s center of expertise on topological quantum computing. I am incredibly humbled by the opportunity to support this development effort and contribute to the new breakthroughs, together with an amazing team of talented researchers and engineers.

Q: What was it that attracted you to the technology field? How and why did you decide to join the domain of quantum computing?

I came to Quantum because I enjoy the loosely orchestrated chaos of early product development and the frenzy of excitement for every new learning and every new benchmark. I like that incredible sensation of being part of something futuristically amazing, now evolving and materializing.

Another reason: This was my first opportunity to work for an amazing female manager – Krysta Svore – and I wasn’t going to miss it.

Meet more of The Women of Microsoft Quantum in Part 1 of this series.

This is just a small sample of the amazing people on the Microsoft Quantum team. If you want to join us as we build the quantum future, we’re hiring!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

ONC, CMS information blocking, interoperability rules finalized

The 2020 HIMSS Global Health Conference & Exhibition may have been canceled Thursday due to coronavirus concerns, but federal regulators wasted no time in announcing that two long-awaited health IT rules finally have been released.

The finalized interoperability and information blocking rules from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will require healthcare organizations give patients access to data through standardized APIs within the next two years, said Don Rucker, national coordinator for ONC, during a media briefing Monday. The rules also focus on data sharing between health insurers, as well as exceptions to information blocking, or situations that do not constitute healthcare organizations keeping data from patients.

Both ONC’s information blocking and interoperability rule, and CMS’ patient data access rule, were finalized amid concerns about patient privacy. Organizations, including EHR vendor Epic, voiced concerns that there weren’t enough privacy protections in place to keep patient data safe.

Proposals for the two rules were unveiled at last year’s event and it was rumored they would drop in conjunction with President Trump’s last-minute addition to this year’s HIMSS speaker lineup, which was slated to start today.

ONC’s interoperability rule

ONC’s interoperability rule mandates that healthcare organizations use FHIR-based APIs to connect patient-facing and consumer-grade apps to patient EHRs. It’s part of the Trump administration’s push to consumerize healthcare.

At the start of the year, one of the biggest EHR vendors, Epic, publicly expressed concerns on sharing patient data with third-party apps because of the lack of outlined privacy protections. During the media briefing, Rucker addressed those concerns head on, saying that the apps will use the same, secure API technology used in banking apps. Additionally, Rucker said providers will be able to let patients know in a “deliberate, straight-forward way” what information they’re consenting to sharing through a patient authentication process.  

“That is not snuck in on the side,” Rucker said. “It’s central to the way that patients allow an app to get access to their information. We’ve empowered providers to communicate the privacy issues in that process.” 

Rucker said a second part of the finalized ONC rule identifies activities that do not constitute information blocking, which is the interference of a healthcare organization with the sharing of health data, and establishes new rules to prevent information blocking practices by healthcare providers, developers of certified health IT and health information exchange networks, as required by the 21st Century Cures Act.

The rule also requires health IT developers to meet certification requirements to ensure interoperability.  Health IT developers must comply with requirements such as assuring that they are not restricting communication about a product’s usability or security so that nurses and doctors are able to discuss safety and usability issues without being bound by what Rucker said has historically been called a “gag clause.”

The finalized ONC rule also replaces the Common Clinical Data Set (CCDS) data elements standard with the U.S. Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) data set for the exchange of data within APIs. The USCDI is a defined set of data that includes clinical notes such as allergies and medications. The data set will support data exchange, Rucker said.

“These are standardized sets of data classes and data elements … to help improve this flow of information,” he said.

CMS patient access rule

The ONC rule goes hand in hand with the CMS rule, which aims to open data sharing between the health insurance system and patients.

Starting in 2021, the CMS patient data access rule will require all health plans that do business with the federal government to share data with patients through a standards-based API. The push to make it easier for patients to access health data follows a model CMS implemented with Blue Button 2.0, an API which gives Medicare beneficiaries the ability to connect their claims data to apps of their choosing, such as research apps.

The rule also requires health plans to make their provider directory available through an API, so patients know if their physician is in their insurance network.

“This will allow innovative third parties to design apps that will help patients evaluate which plan networks are right for them and potentially avoid surprise billing by having a clear picture of which clinicians are in network,” CMS administrator Seema Verma said during Monday’s media briefing.

Starting in 2022, Verma said insurance plans will also be required to share patient information with each other, which will enable patients to take data with them as they move between plans.

Additionally, effective six months from today, CMS is changing the participation conditions for Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals as part of the rule. To ensure they are supporting care coordination for patients, Verma said the rule requires the hospitals to send admission, discharge and transfer notifications so patients receive a “timelier follow-up supporting better care and better health outcomes.”

“The Trump administration is pushing the healthcare system forward,” Verma said. “We are breaking down barriers to a seamless, data-driven healthcare system. The result of these two rules will be a more intuitive and convenient experience for American patients.”  

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For Sale – i5-6600K, Z170 ITX M/B, 16GB RAM bundle

I’ve too much stuff again, time to shift it.

Thin ITX PC sold elsewhere
Thin Mini-ITX rig – £150 inc
M/B, CPU cooler, case and PSU bought new in June last year, the rest bought second hand at the same time. Been running Ubuntu on this, very smooth, but have replaced it with an NUC for an even smaller footprint.
Gigabyte B85TN (with both half height and full height I/O shields)
Intel i5 4670S
8GB Crucial 1600MHz DDR3L (2x4GB)
Silverstone NT-07 Nitrogen CPU cooler
Phnx Toem Thin Mini-ITX Case
Akasa 120w PSU
Toshiba 128GB mSATA SSD

ITX bundle – £200 inc
M/B purchased second hand in July last year, CPU from another forum in 2016, RAM last month. Been running sweetly in an FT03-B Mini and was going to be an upgrade for sprog 2 but she doesn’t need it.
Asus Z170i Pro Gaming
Intel i5 6600K
16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 2133MHz (2x8GB)
Windows 10 Pro (tied to M/B)

i7 mATX bundle sold elsewhere
mATX bundle – £240 inc SOLD
M/B bought new on Amazon in 2016, was my daily driver until April last year, CPU and RAM bought second hand last month, was going to be an upgrade for sprog 1 but he doesn’t need it.
Asus Z170M-Plus
i7 6700K
16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 2133MHz (2x8GB)
Windows 10 Pro (tied to M/B)

I also have a Silverstone TJ08-E case that I have had for years that I could do with either of the bundles if there is interest, probably not worth listing individually.

Will consider trades for low mileage 4TB for WD Red or Seagate Ironwolf NAS drives.

Any questions just ask.

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For Sale – Intel Nuc, cpu’s, SODIMM ram

Hi all

time to have a clean up of some bits

first up is an Intel NUC7I7BNH, all firmwares fully updated and HDMI 2.0 working from HDMI and USB-C, comes with 16 gig of ram and 256gig SSD drive $410 Delivered now £350 + postage of your choice, work great with the HDR kodi build

CPU’s all chip only except 9100f

one Intel i3 9100F used for about 2 months retail boxed £75 delivered now £65 + postage of your choice

1 x intel I5-9500 £100 delivered

Intel i5-8500T(35w) good for a low power HTPC £90 now £75 + postage of your choice

and 4 x of Samsung 8GB DDR4 PC4-21300, 2666MHZ, 260 PIN SODIMM £30 each now £25 each

many thanks for looking

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For Sale – Hauppauge TV Card and various hard drives.

Anker Card Reader, USB 3.0 8 in 1S D-XC, SD, MMC, RS-MMC, SD-HC, Micro SD, Mini SD and UHS-I cards. £6. ***SOLD***

Samsung HN-M500MBB 500Mb 2.5″ internal hard drive £15 ***SOLD***

Seagate ST3000DM001-9YN166 3TB 3.5″ internal hard drive x 2 £50 each.

Hauppauge Win TV HVR-1700 TV card with WinTV software, all in original package. £25


Price and currency
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I have no preference
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For Sale – Dell 3010 DT

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