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Image Matrix Tech on Sky News: Space Tourism Begins with Virgin Galactic

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In Sunday’s segment on Sky News Australia (Weekend Edition with Tim Gilbert) we looked at how space tourism is now an option for travellers with big wallets and plenty of patience. Virgin Galactic is already planning its next launch after flying tourists into space for the first time this week. Virgin Galactic already has a backlog of about 800 customers with tickets ranging from US$250,000 to US$450,000.

The rocket-powered spaceplane separates from the ‘mothership’

The idea is to make space exploration accessible to everyone. Eventually weekly flights and cheaper prices will hopefully make that a reality. For now, monthly flights are planned with Galactic 03 – the company’s third commercial spaceflight – slated for September 2023.

The Virgin Galactic VSS vehicle is a reusable rocket-powered spaceplane.

Virgin Galactic’s first private space tourists

Once the mothership or carrier aircraft reaches 45,000ft, the rocket-propelled spaceplane blasts straight up to an altitude of approximately 85 kilometres.

It’s one helluva ride, albeit a short one.

NEW REPORT WARNS MAC USERS NOT TO BE COMPLACENT

Bitdefender releases macOS Threat Landscape Report

The latest macOS Threat Landscape Report from Bitdefender should be of interest to Australians as Mac and other Apple device use is very high here. More than 45 per cent of Australians are now using at least one Apple system on their computers or phones.

Microsoft dominates with 63% of the desktop market but while Apple users enjoy less risk due to the platform’s smaller footprint, Macs aren’t bulletproof.

Mac users are targeted by three key threats

Key Findings of the Report

  • Mac users are targeted by three key threats: Trojans, Adware and Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs)
  • Trojans are the biggest single threat to Macs, accounting for more than half of threat detections followed by PUAs and Adware
  • EvilQuest remains the single most common piece of malware targeting Macs at 52.7%
  • Trojans designed to exploit unpatched vulnerabilities present a real danger to users who typically postpone installing the latest security patches from Apple
  • With a 25.3% share, PUAs represent a quarter of ‘executable’ threats to Macs
  • 8% of PUA detections on Macs are crypto miners and 1% are jailbreak utilities
  • Trojans designed to exploit unpatched vulnerabilities present a real danger to users who typically postpone installing the latest security patches from Apple
  • Threats designed to infect Macs typically require victims to manually run an executable
  • Threat actors put effort into making malware packages look and feel like legitimate applications
Threats designed to infect Macs typically require victims to manually run an executable

While named differently, these hazards share one trait: they require victims to manually run the threat, meaning their authors try hard to make their malware look like legitimate applications.

MOMENTUM CONTINUES TO BUILD FOR REPAIRABLE SMARTPHONES

The Australian Repair Summit was held in Canberra during the week – just as Nokia released the G42 5G. The Nokia G42 is the industry’s first sub-A$450 smartphone with 5G connectivity to feature QuickFix repairability.

Nokia G42 5G is the latest repairable phone from HDM Global

That means cracked screens, bent charging ports and batteries can all be easily replaced .. just like I did on the cheaper model seen in the segment.

The deal with iFixit offers step-by-step repair guides and cheap parts.

The momentum is now unstoppable. The EU wants easy swapping of batteries and now the Australian Repair Summit has called for major reform to incentivise and support the repair of products, machines and equipment.

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Cyber Crime

Scammers Prefer Friday and Saturday Says Telstra

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Scammers are getting to know their targets very well. After analysing data from 2022 and 2023, Telstra says Australians are more likely to receive a dodgy text message on a Friday or a Saturday.

Telstra says it blocks on average 11% more scams on Friday and Saturday than any other day of the week. The big telco’s security operations also noted that scammers like to hassle Australians between 1am and 4am.

DJURO SEN APPEARS ON SKY NEWS WEEKEND EDITION TO DISCUSS TELSTA SMS SCAM DATA

By targeting Thursday and Friday scammers are clearly trying to take advantage of Australians when they are out partying or distracted by other weekend duties, like sleep. SMS is a preferred method because it usually involves a quick response and during these hours it’s a strategy that appears to be working.

The good news is we get a bit of a reprieve on Sundays with Telstra reporting it blocks almost 20% fewer scam messages compared to the weekly average.

But the overall numbers show that we are just keeping ahead of the bad guys. It’s important to remain vigilant as Telstra blocks an average of 11 million scam SMS messages every month – an increase of 69% year on year.

You can find more information on scams from Telstra here.

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AI

What You Need to Know Ahead of Windows Recall Release

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Microsoft’s next generation AI powered Copilot+ PCs will soon be available but one controversial Windows feature has already undergone a drastic overhaul. RECALL is – as Microsoft says – ‘a new way to instantly find something you’ve previously seen on your PC’ using on device AI.

Every few seconds Recall takes a snapshot of what appears on your screen. These images are analysed locally by AI so you are not sending anything to the cloud. Recall can then offer you a timeline of your computer use through a visual interface. It really is like having a ‘photographic memory’ of all the apps, websites, images and documents that you’ve interacted with on your PC.

Obviously this would be a treasure trove for cyber criminals if they could access it. Security experts are worried it could be abused once a user logs into their device. Once the drive is decrypted, the history recorded by Recall is potentially accessible by a bad actor.

As I mentioned in the Sky News Weekend Edition segment above, Offensive Cybersecurity Advocate, Alexander Hagenah, an ethical hacker, created TotalRecall to encourage Microsoft to make changes. And thankfully Microsoft did make changes.

“Even before making Recall available to customers, we have heard a clear signal that we can make it easier for people to choose to enable Recall on their Copilot+ PC and improve privacy and security safeguards,” said Corporate Vice President Windows + Devices Pavan Davuluri.

“With that in mind we are announcing updates that will go into effect before Recall (preview) ships to customers on June 18.”

So, not only has Microsoft made Recall opt-in only, users will also need to take more security steps to activate and actively use the feature once logged into Windows 11.

Recall is now off by default

RECALL SECURITY CHANGES

  1. If you don’t proactively choose to turn it on, it will be off by default.
  2. Windows Hello enrolment is required to enable Recall. In addition, proof of presence is also required to view your timeline and search in Recall.
  3. Additional layers of data protection including “just in time” decryption protected by Windows Hello Enhanced Sign-in Security (ESS) so Recall snapshots will only be decrypted and accessible when the user authenticates. In addition, we encrypted the search index database.
Windows Hello enrolment is required to enable Recall

MORE SECURITY NOTES ON RECALL

  • Snapshots are stored locally. Copilot+ PCs have new NPUs (Neural Processing Unit) and this allows on device AI processing. No internet or cloud connections are used to store and process snapshots. Microsoft says your snapshots are yours and they are not used to train the AI on Copilot+ PCs.
  • Snapshots are not shared. Recall does not send your snapshots to Microsoft. Snapshots are not shared with any other companies or applications. Recall doesn’t share snapshots with other users who are signed into the same device, and per-user encryption ensures even administrators cannot view other users’ snapshots.
  • You will know when Recall is saving snapshots. You’ll see Recall pinned to the taskbar when you reach your desktop. You’ll have a Recall snapshot icon on the system tray letting you know when Windows is saving snapshots.
  • Digital rights managed or InPrivate browsing snapshots are not saved. Recall does not save snapshots of digital rights managed content or InPrivate browsing in supported web browsers.
  • You can pause, filter and delete what’s saved at any time. You can disable saving snapshots, pause them temporarily, filter applications and websites from being in snapshots, and delete your snapshots at any time.
  • Enterprise and customer choice. For customers using managed work devices, your IT administrator is provided the control to disable the ability to save snapshots. Your IT administrator CANNOT enable saving snapshots on your behalf.

Microsoft also posted on its blog:

“In our early internal testing, we have seen different people use Recall in the way that works best for them. Some love the way it makes remembering what they’ve seen across the web so much easier to find than reviewing their browser history. Others like the way it allows them to better review an online course or find a PowerPoint. And people are taking advantage of the controls to exclude apps they don’t want captured in snapshots, from communication apps or Teams calls, or to delete some or all their snapshots. This is why we built Recall with fine-grained controls to allow each person to customise the experience to their comfort level, ensuring your information is protected and that you are in control of when, what and how it is captured.”

I’m attending the Australian launch of CoPilot+ PCs at Microsoft, so if there are any more changes, I’ll report back to you.

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Bitfender

Avoid Being Scammed: Bitdefender Scamio Now in WhatsApp

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Revealed First on Sky News Weekend Edition Tech Chat with Djuro Sen

Bitdefender’s excellent AI chatbot – Scamio – is now integrated with WhatsApp. Scamio is a free service that analyses suspicious links, texts or QR codes. I started using the web app when it first launched and now I’ve been testing it within WhatsApp.

On your phone, click here to add Scamio as a contact in WhatsApp. From there you’ll have to login/create a free Bitdefender account. Once you’re connected, simply drop suspicious content, like a link or text message into a conversation with Scamio. Describe how you received the possible scam and what concerns you have about it.

 Scamio analyses and provides a verdict in a few seconds, sometimes a bit longer, along with recommendations on further actions. It’s a great contact to have in your database.

The conversational manner in which the checking takes place also makes it easier to understand what potential problems you could be facing.

Bitdender says, “Scamio was developed to disrupt criminal operations as threat actors rapidly increase adoption of AI and large language models and use of popular messaging apps and online services to steal money, credentials, and personal data. ”

The QR code option is a good one to look at I believe. Many people just automatically scan and click without checking if the site is legitimate. According to the Global State of Scams – 2023 Report, 76 per cent of respondents encountered an online scam at least once a month.

It definitely pays to stay alert.

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