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Microsoft News

Cybercriminals see red as Microsoft hacks for good – Middle East & Africa News Center

Businesses in the Middle East and Africa are key targets for cyber attackers.

Data published by PwC in 2016 suggested that Middle East businesses were considerably more likely to suffer from cybercrime than the global average. Even though increased awareness and investment saw attacks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) decline during the first half of 2018, cyber criminals still managed to steal close to Dh4 billion from victims in 2017, while the average amount of time consumers in the UAE lose dealing with online crime is rising steeply.

Businesses in South Africa are also falling victim to repeated ransomware attacks, with more than half of them hit by ransomware in 2017, according to a survey by Sophos. Further North, Kenya has been targeted by hackers in several major attacks over the past couple of years.

Hackers are increasingly taking advantage of “low-hanging fruit” as the cost of circumventing security measures goes up. Botnets continue to impact millions of computers globally, infecting them with old and new forms of malware, while ransomware continues to be a popular method used by cybercriminals to solicit and, in several cases, successfully obtain money from victims.

“We continue to see high profile cyberattacks land in the headlines around the world,” says David Weston, principal security group manager at Microsoft, who leads the Device Security and Offensive Security Research team, also known as the Red Team.

“Cryptocurrency mining, ransomware and other scareware are reaching new levels of sophistication.”

Microsoft’s own Red Team

Despite the continuous cybersecurity threats, only 33 percent of organisations have a cyber-incident response plan in place, and most companies are still not adequately prepared for or even understand the risks faced.

It’s for this reason, Microsoft is committed to helping businesses secure their environment and protect their customers. One way the company is working to achieve this, is through its Red Team, led by Weston, who is visiting the Middle-East this month.

“The Red Team operates like the world’s most sophisticated attackers: Gathering intelligence about their target, finding strings of vulnerabilities and then building the most refined exploits,” explains Weston. “Once their attack is complete, they work with their colleagues to identify and build disruptors to block the attack.”

The idea came about when Weston was at a hacking competition known as Pwn2Own, and noticed the pattern of many companies, including Microsoft, whereby they released software to the public and then hackers would attack. The so-called “white hats” would tell these companies about the vulnerabilities they found, but the “black hats” found and exploited these vulnerabilities themselves.

Weston says, “I knew we needed to be more aggressive in our approach, so I devised a plan: Disrupt this cycle by creating a team of internal hackers at Microsoft who would mimic the tactics and techniques of the most advanced hackers. Their goal would be to attack Windows 10 and its apps to make them better – to find and fix the toughest vulnerabilities before the bad guys.”

The Red Team’s advanced threat protections identify nearly a billion threats per day across end points. This helps Microsoft stay ahead of the game as hackers become increasingly more sophisticated.

The impact of AI and cloud on cybersecurity

Weston also highlights the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on security.

“AI is filling critical gaps in cybersecurity,” he explains. “It will continue to advance cybersecurity; improve efficacy, detection and response; and bring us closer to being truly predictive and preventing attacks before they even occur.”

However, cybercriminals will continue to advance and adapt, just as the industry continues to advance and adapt. It’s for this reason businesses are being urged to move to the cloud, adopt modern platforms, and embrace comprehensive identity, security and management solutions.

“Most businesses aren’t as prepared as they could be. We can all do better, and that’s why we believe cloud is a security imperative to secure today’s modern workplace,” says Weston.

The Red Team is making inroads to ensure Microsoft software is as secure as possible for its customers. However, businesses in the Middle East and Africa that are embracing digital transformation to remain relevant in their markets should prioritise four key initiatives to ensure they are secure: implementing cyber resilience strategies; developing cybersecurity skills; protecting data privacy; and integrating cyber risk.

“At Microsoft, we recommend that everyone must be proactive in their cybersecurity efforts. Better protection equals better prevention, detection and remediation,” says Weston.

Microsoft announces quarterly dividend increase – Stories

Annual shareholders meeting set for Nov. 28, 2018

REDMOND, Wash. — Sept. 18, 2018 — Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday announced that its board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of $0.46 per share, reflecting a 4 cent or 9.5 percent increase over the previous quarter’s dividend. The dividend is payable Dec. 13, 2018, to shareholders of record on Nov. 15, 2018. The ex-dividend date will be Nov. 14, 2018.

In addition, the company announced the date for the 2018 Annual Shareholders Meeting, to be held Nov. 28, 2018. Shareholders at the close of business on Sept. 26, 2018, the record date, will be entitled to vote at the Annual Shareholders Meeting.

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, financial analysts and investors only:

Investor Relations, Microsoft, (425) 706-4400

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications, (425) 638-7777,

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at Web links, telephone numbers, and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. Shareholder and financial information is available at

Announcing new AI and mixed reality business applications for Microsoft Dynamics – The Official Microsoft Blog

Today, I had the opportunity to speak to press and analysts in San Francisco about our vision for business applications at Microsoft. In addition, I had the privilege to make two very important announcements: the upcoming availability of new Dynamics 365 AI applications, and our very first mixed reality business applications: Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.

Our vision for business applications at Microsoft

We live in a connected world where companies are challenged every day to innovate so they can stay ahead of emerging trends and repivot business models to take advantage of new opportunities to meet growing customer demands.

To innovate, organizations need to reimagine their processes. They need solutions that are modern, enabling new experiences for how they can engage their customers while making their people more productive. They need unified systems that break data silos, so they have a holistic view of their business, customers and employees. They need pervasive intelligence threaded throughout the platform, giving them the ability to reason over data, to predict trends and drive proactive intelligent action. And with adaptable applications, they can be nimble, allowing them to take advantage of the next opportunity that comes their way.

Two years ago, when we introduced Dynamics 365 we started a journey to tear down the traditional silos of customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP). We set out to reimagine business applications as modern, unified, intelligent and adaptable solutions that are integrated with Office 365 and natively built on Microsoft Azure.

With the release of our new AI and mixed reality applications we are taking another step forward on our journey to help empower every organization on the planet to achieve more through the accelerant of business applications. Specifically, today we are making the following announcements:

Dynamics 365 + AI

First, I am happy to announce the coming availability of a new Dynamics 365 AI offering — a new class of AI applications that will deliver out-of-the-box insights by unifying data and infusing it with advanced intelligence to guide decisions and empower organizations to take informed actions. And because these insights are easily extensible through the power of Microsoft Power BI, Azure and the Common Data Service, organizations will be able to address even the most complex scenarios specific to their business.

Dynamics 365 AI for Sales: AI can help salespeople prioritize their time to focus on deals that matter most, provide answers to the most common questions regarding the performance of sales teams, offer a detailed analysis of the sales pipeline, and surface insights that enable smarter coaching of sales teams.

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service: With Microsoft’s AI and natural language understanding, customer service data can surface automated insights that help guide employees to take action and can even leverage virtual agents to help lower support costs and enable delightful customer experiences, all without needing in-house AI experts and without writing any code.

Dynamics 365 AI for Market Insights: Helps empower your marketing, social media and market research teams to make better decisions with market insights. Marketers can improve customer relationships with actionable web and social insights to engage in relevant conversations and respond faster to trends.

To help bring this to life, today we released a video with our CEO, Satya Nadella, and Navrina Singh, a member of our Dynamics 365 engineering team, showing examples of ways we’re bringing the power of AI to customer service organizations.

Dynamics 365 + Mixed Reality

Our second announcement of the day centers on the work we are doing to bring mixed reality and business applications together.

Since the release of Microsoft HoloLens over two years ago, the team has learned a lot from customers and partners. The momentum that HoloLens has received within the commercial space has been overwhelmingly positive. This has been supported by increased demand and deployment from some of the world’s most innovative companies.

We recognize that many employees need information in context to apply their knowledge and craft. Not only on a 2-D screen — but information and data in context, at the right place, and at the right time, so employees can produce even greater impact for their organizations. Mixed reality is a technology uniquely suited to do exactly that.

This is a whole new kind of business application. And that’s precisely what we’re introducing today, Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Dynamics 365 Layout.

Today, we also showcased for the first time how Chevron is deploying HoloLens to take advantage of Dynamics 365 mixed reality business applications.

Chevron is already achieving real, measurable results with its global HoloLens deployment. Previously it was required to fly in an inspector from Houston to a facility in Singapore once a month to inspect equipment. Now it has in-time inspection using Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and can identify issues or provide approvals immediately.

In addition, remote collaboration and assistance have helped the company operate more safely in a better work environment, serving as a connection point between firstline workers and remote experts, as well as cutting down on travel and eliminating risks associated with employee travel.

Here is a peek into the work Chevron is doing with mixed reality:

Unlock what’s next with the Dynamics 365 October 2018 release

Next week at Microsoft Ignite and Microsoft Envision we’ll be in Orlando talking with thousands of customers, partners, developers, and IT and business leaders about our October 2018 release for Dynamics 365 and the Power platform that will be generally available Oct. 1. The wave of innovation this represents across the entire product family is significant, with hundreds of new capabilities and features.

We will have a lot more to talk about in the weeks and months ahead. We look forward to sharing more!

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Telstra empowers its employees to do their best work from anywhere with Microsoft Office 365 – Microsoft 365 Blog

The Telstra logo.

Today’s post was written by Gregory Koteras, general manager of digital workplace solutions at Telstra in Melbourne, Australia.

Image of Gregory Koteras, general manager of digital workplace solutions at Telstra in Melbourne, Australia.At Telstra, our mission is to connect people. We’re Australia’s leading telecommunications and technology company, providing mobile phone and internet access to 17.6 million retail customers.

We’re currently fundamentally re-engineering how we operate through our new T22 strategy, designed to remove complexity and management layers, decrease the focus on hierarchical decision making, and increase the focus on empowered teams making decisions closer to the customer.

The strategy leverages the significant capabilities already being built through Telstra’s up to $3 billion strategic investment announced in August 2016 in creating the Networks for the Future and digitizing the business.

The key to any successful organizational change is having engaged and empowered people. One of the ways we’re doing this is by providing new tools and systems that our employees can use to connect across more than 20 countries around the world. This includes outfitting our employees and contractors with Microsoft Office 365 to provide state-of-the-art collaboration and conferencing tools needed to design better services and transform our customers’ experience.

We also know how important it is to give our people a voice, and we use Yammer to let all employees connect with each other, ask questions, and get the answers they need. Conversely, Telstra executives use Yammer to engage with our global staff and rally support for corporate initiatives. Yammer is our corporate living room. There are thousands of work-related conversations happening there, but also book club groups, fitness groups, Brilliant Connected Women groups, and technical interest groups.

We’re also proud to be a corporate leader in serving customers with disabilities and addressing barriers to accessibility and inclusion. And that extends to our people. With the built-in accessibility features in Office 365 ProPlus, such as screen reader support, voice alerts, and keyboard shortcuts, all Telstra employees can use these new tools to be part of company conversations.

In March 2014, Telstra adopted a flexible workstyle model called All Roles Flex, which recognizes the need for flexible hours and modes for different job roles. It includes part-time work, working outside normal nine-to-five business hours, and working from different locations. To support this way of working, our people need to have access to the best tools and services, so they can connect anywhere, anytime. Office 365 gives them the flexibility and functionality to do that.

As we focus on transforming our company, the tools we provide our people will play a critical role. By greatly simplifying our structure and ways of working, we empower our people and better serve our customers.

Read the case study to learn how Telstra is creating a simpler and productive workplace with Microsoft Office 365.

AI and preventative healthcare: Diagnosis in the blink of an eye – Asia News Center

In his office in suburban Beijing, Zhang proudly demonstrated the physical part of Airdoc’s system – a small desktop device that looks similar to a scanner a neighborhood optometrist might use for a routine eye exam.

You sit on a stool, lean forward, place your chin on a padded brace, and stare into the darkness of an eyepiece. The algorithm then takes over, precisely adjusting the angle of your head until a green cross comes into focus in the gaze of your right eye. A moment later there’s a bright, but not uncomfortable, flash of white light. The process is repeated for your left eye.

The machine has just taken high-resolution medical-grade images of both your retinas. It instantly sends them to the cloud where it takes 20 to 30 milliseconds (about the same time as an eye blink) of computation to analyze both.

Above: Taking a test at Airdoc’s Beijing office.

Moments later an impressively detailed diagnostic dashboard is sent to your smartphone. It rates from low to medium to high your susceptibility to a long list of diseases. If there is a problem, it urges you to seek professional medical help.

Right now, it can search for 30 diseases. More machine learning will soon boost that number to 50, and eventually, it could go beyond 200.

Zhang regards his system as a gamechanger because of its potential to deliver at scale and relieve stretched medical resources. To date, it has scanned more than 1.12 million people, mostly in China, but also in the United States, India, Britain, and parts of Africa. “Airdoc users are all over the world.  We hope our deep learning technology can prevent all kinds of disease.”

China, with a population of 1.3 billion, only has about 1,100 eye doctors who are qualified to analyze retinal images. So, the challenge of providing adequate diagnostic services is truly massive – and perhaps no more so than for the epidemic of diabetes.

Authorities estimate as many as 114 million Chinese have diabetes – but only 30 percent of them know that. The other 70 percent are unaware and, without early detection, will eventually be struck down with serious maladies, like blindness, strokes and other potentially fatal conditions.

“Diabetic retinopathy, or DR, is one of the most common and serious complications of diabetes. Once patients feel symptoms, they are already in a severe stage of DR and will go blind without proper treatment,” says Dr. Rui Li Wei (pictured in top image) of Shanghai’s Changzheng Hospital, one of several major medical institutions that now routinely uses Airdoc’s technology as a quick, accurate, and simple diagnostic tool.

Microsoft Hackathon 2018 winning team: ‘Think bigger – and believe you can change the world’ – Stories

The Hackathon, a company-wide event in its fifth year, had more than 23,500 global participants this year – twice the number from the first Hackathon in 2014. Hackers teamed up on more than 5,850 projects this year, up from 4,760 projects last year.

Winning projects have led to successes, including Seeing AI, the Xbox Adaptive Controller and Learning Tools, just a sampling of the projects initially driven by a team’s spark of passion. Motivation to participate in what is now the world’s largest private hackathon often comes from employees with family members or friends who are coping with various physical hardships, and who can be helped by technology.

The Hackathon began – and has continued – as a way to engage employees worldwide in both a learning culture and in a growth mindset, and to encourage great ideas from people in all roles  across the company.

“We’re getting better at hacking as a company, and we’re seeing a higher percentage of the projects that come out of the Hackathon that have potential business value to our company, which is exciting,” Ramos says.

While many people think hackathons are “just for dreaming up flying cars or smart toasters,” he says, many of the hackers say having fun is the No. 1 reason why they participate.

The winning team’s project “is a product that is a natural for Microsoft,” Ramos says. “It leverages our commitment as a platform and productivity company, and it capitalizes on something that we feel is unique to us.”

It’s “also an idea that this team has a passion for,” he says. “There are a lot of great ideas in the Hackathon – and so, when a great idea also meets up with a great team of people, that’s a nice combination as well.”

Easily integrate Skype calls into your content with the new content creators feature | Skype Blogs

Skype is used worldwide as a tool for bringing callers into a variety of different podcasts, live streams, and TV shows. Today, we made it even simpler to bring your incoming audio and video calls to life with the Skype for content creators feature.

Building off the Skype TX appliance for professional studios, we built the feature directly into the desktop app, so podcasters, vloggers, and live streamers can bring Skype calls directly into their content without the need for expensive equipment, studio setup, or multiple crew members.

From a one-on-one audio call up to a four-person group video—incoming calls are available for you to build your own content by integrating Skype calls.

The feature uses NewTek NDI®. You need an NDI-enabled application or device to use Skype for content creators.

There are a number of NDI-enabled software and appliances to choose from,* including:

  • NewTek TriCaster®
  • Xsplit
  • OBS with NDI plugin
  • Pro presenter
  • Wirecast
  • vMIX
  • Ecamm Live for Mac
  • Ovrstream

You will be able to edit, brand, and distribute your Skype content, which can then be sent to a group of friends, uploaded as a podcast or vlog, or live streamed to an audience of millions using platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and LinkedIn.

Skype for content creators is now available on the latest version of Skype for Windows and Mac. Visit Skype for content creators to learn more. We would love to hear from and see what you have created using this feature; email us at

*Third-party applications have not been checked, verified, certified, or otherwise approved or endorsed by Skype. Applications may be subject to the third-party provider’s own terms and privacy policy. Skype does not control and is not responsible for the download, installation, pricing, quality, performance, availability, support, or terms and conditions of purchase of third-party applications.