97,000 Bugzilla email addresses and passwords exposed in another Mozilla leak

Around 97,000 early testers of the Bugzilla bug tracking software have been warned that their email addresses and encrypted passwords were exposed for three months.

The accidental exposure is the second disclosed by the Mozilla Foundation this month – on 1 August, the organisation revealed that around 76,000 Mozilla Developer Network email addresses and 4,000 hashed and salted passwords had been left on a public-facing server for 30 days.

The new breach started during a server migration, Mark Cote, assistant project lead for Bugzilla, explained.

One of our developers discovered that, starting on about May 4th, 2014, for a period of around 3 months, during the migration of our testing server for test builds of the Bugzilla software, database dump files containing email addresses and encrypted passwords of roughly 97,000 users of the test build were posted on a publicly accessible server. As soon as we became aware, the database dump files were removed from the server immediately, and we’ve modified the testing process to not require database dumps.

We do not know whether or not the leaked database dumps have been picked up by anyone with ill-intent, or whether the passwords were hashed and salted, but Mozilla said it would like to think that developers who use test builds are aware of their insecure nature.

That said, passwords do still get reused. For that reason Mozilla has contacted everyone who is affected by the leak, urging them to change their passwords if they have used them for other additional sites or accounts.

So, if you use the Bugzilla tracking software, you need to change your password right now. And even if you don’t, you can still learn from this incident by ensuring that you don’t use the same password more than once.

We suggest using long non-dictionary passwords made up from a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

If you have a tough time remembering all your complex passwords you may want to consider using a password manager such as LastPass or KeePass.

Meanwhile Mozilla, which is no stranger to leaking passwords, said it is “deeply sorry for any inconvenience or concern this incident may cause” and is undertaking a review of its data practices in the hope that it will minimize the likelihood of such incidents happening again in the future.

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Some Common Printer Problems

Problem: Printing is too slow.

Solution: Rev up printer performance–and save ink in the process–by reducing print quality for everyday output. While printer settings vary by model, here’s how to switch to draft-printing mode in most Windows apps. Select Print and Properties, and then look for a setting that reduces print quality. With the HP Photosmart 8450, for instance, change the default print quality setting from Normal to Fast Draft (click screen-shot at right). Other speedup suggestions: Print pages from websites without graphics, and add RAM to your printer, if possible. 

Problem: Ink and/or toner costs too much.

Solution: http://computertechsupport.us/ has written a lot about the printing industry’s sneaky practices over the years. To wit: They snare you with dirt-cheap printers sold at or below cost, and then stick it to you later with ultra-pricey consumables.

Based on our tests, we can’t recommend third party vendors’ remanufactured or refilled ink cartridges, which may not give you your money’s worth. One cost-saving solution is to buy higher-capacity cartridges. If you print a lot, try an ink cartridge with a 250-plus page yield, or a toner cartridge with a 2,000-plus page yield.

Problem: Windows is sending print jobs to the wrong printer.

Solution: For some mysterious reason, Windows may select a new default printer–the one it automatically sends print jobs to. (This happened to me when I upgraded from Vista to Windows 7.) To fix this glitch in Windows 7, click Start (the Windows icon in the lower-left corner of the screen) and select Devices and Printers. Under Printers and Faxes, right-click the printer you want to make the default, and select Set as default printer.

If you’re using earlier versions of Windows, these steps vary a bit.

Will Windows 9 go free to tempt us into an upgrade?

windows-9-design-concept

Windows 9 news is coming at a faster clip now that we’re drawing closer to its likely September 30 debut, and the latest concerns the new OS’s price.

According to Russian leaker  Microsoft is planning some nice incentives to get folks to upgrade to Windows 9.

For Windows 8.1 users who want to make the jump, Windows 9 will either come free or be available through a special offer. We’d put our money on it going the free route since Windows 8.1 arrived at no charge for Windows 8 users.

If you bought a retail or OEM flavor of the Windows 8, Microsoft will apparently throw you a Windows 9 upgrade for around $20 (about £12, AU$21).

Finally, since Windows XP holdouts are still numbering more than Microsoft would like, despite the company ending support earlier this year, the firm is said to be planning an “awesome” incentive to get XP users to cave in to Windows 9.

According to the Russian crew the enterprise version of Windows 9 will leave the Metro interface at the door. Microsoft won’t release a test version of Windows 9 Pro OEM, though there is a Windows 9 Enterprise technical preview out in the wild, apparently.

Despite many calling the death of Windows RT all but complete, Microsoft apparently isn’t ready to give up on its much-maligned OS. Instead, the firm is prepping Windows 9 RT and in fact already has a test build made. As you might expect, Windows 9 RT will arrive on the unannounced Surface 3.

There were also a few rumored Windows 9 features to be had as well. The system will support 3D-mode Ultra HD TVs and allow for cloud data back-up and restoration. Last but not least, Microsoft is said to be creating a feature for virtualizing physical system backups in the cloud. Sounds pretty nifty

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There’s a lot of speculation that Microsoft will change how Windows is sold and distributed, but a “Windows 365” approach is different than “Windows-as-a-Service.”

Examining Windows

With Windows 9 already on the immediate horizon, there’s increasing speculation that Microsoft may change up the licensing and business model for the flagship OS. Some suggest that Microsoft will just give the OS away, while others think that Microsoft will either offer Windows as a cloud-based service or in a subscription model á la Office 365.

All of those are possibilities. What concerns me is that there’s still so much confusion about Office 365, and that confusion will bleed over into a possible “Windows 365” scenario, creating chaos for users trying to decide what is best for them.

Article by Microsoft  was very confusing and misleading, because the headline made it clear it was related to Windows-as-a-Service — however, in the very first paragraph, the author stated that Windows might soon follow in the footsteps of Office 365. It then went on to claim that those rumors might be true because Microsoft listed a job posting that alluded to “Windows-as-a-Service.”

Make it stop!

That particular article demonstrated a complete lack of understanding about what Office 365 is and how it works. If that isn’t bad enough, it doubled down on that ignorance by linking the misguided understanding of Office 365 to both Windows 365 and Windows-as-a-Service, as if all of those are related or similar. It’s no wonder consumers on the street can’t make sense of Office 365 — the tech press doesn’t get it either and writes things that make it more confusing.

Let’s start by backing up and talking about Office 365 for a minute. Office 365 is NOT a cloud-based Office-as-a-Service offering. Office 365 is the exact same Office as the traditional Office Professional 2013 suite, but it’s sold as a subscription rather than as a one-time purchase. It includes additional cloud-based features and benefits that don’t come with the desktop suite, but the actual Office applications are installed on and run from your Windows or Mac PC literally the same way.

So, now let’s break down the difference between what “Windows 365” might look like as opposed to “Windows-as-a-Service.” If Microsoft chooses to offer Windows the same way it has packaged Office 365, all that means is that rather than charging a one-time fee of $100 or $200 for the OS, it would instead offer it as a subscription for say $25 or $50 per year.

Users would still have the exact same Windows 9 (or whatever they call it) as the users who pay $200 to buy Windows 9 outright, but they’d pay less up front, and they’d have perpetual rights to the latest version. That means, when Windows 10 comes along, the Windows 365 users will just keep paying their subscription fees and install it, while those who purchased Windows 9 outright will have to spend the $200 again if they want to upgrade.

A cloud-based Windows, or “Windows-as-a-Service,” is an entirely different concept. It would likely still include some sort of subscription, or ongoing fees, but with Windows-as-a-Service, Microsoft would install and maintain the Windows OS on its Azure servers in the cloud, and users would need to somehow connect to and login to the cloud-based Windows to run software in a virtualized, streaming fashion over the internet.

I’m not a fan of the idea of Windows-as-a-Service. It seems too much like trying to use a Chromebook — where your ability to use your computer or be productive is tied to your ability to find a reliable internet connection. Windows 365, on the other hand, sounds like an awesome approach that I really hope Microsoft does offer.

Both of these are potential options for Microsoft, and each has pros and cons. It’s important to understand that they are completely different models, though, and to not confuse users and muddy the waters by implying that Office 365 means you’re using some sort of cloud-based Office-as-a-Service.

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Microsoft reissues flawed Windows security update with new flaws

Microsoft yesterday re-released the updates for security bulletin MS14-045. This update had been released on the August Patch Tuesday, August 12, but withdrawn later in the week after user reports of blue screen crashes and disabled systems.

At the same time Microsoft withdrew MS14-045, it withdrew three non-security updates, KB2970228,KB2975719 and KB2975331. None of those have been reissued and we have no further information on them.

Updated on August 27: With respect to these remaining updates, Tracey Pretorius, Director, Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, told ZDNet “[w]e continue to work diligently to get the Windows August Update rereleased to customers.”

A blog entry from Pretorius implies that the problem was related to a change in the release schedules for non-security updates.

The Knowledge Base article for the revised update (KB2993651) lists a confusing set of Known Issues remaining with the update.

  • With the update installed, fonts in the system that are not in the default fonts directory (%windir%\fonts\) cannot be changed when loaded in an active session. For more detail, see the KB article.
  • With the update installed, the z-order (depth) of some windows is changed. This means they can be hidden and therefore invisible. Four other earlier updates also cause this problem:
    • 2965768 Stop error 0x3B when an application changes the z-order of a window in Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
    • 2970228 Update to support the new currency symbol for the Russian ruble in Windows
    • 2973201 MS14-039: Description of the security update for Windows on-screen keyboard: July 8, 2014
    • 2975719 August 2014 update rollup for Windows RT 8.1, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2

Two of these (2970228 and 2975719) are among the updates withdrawn by Microsoft along with MS14-045. The other two have not been mentioned previously with respect to the recent problems. Those two now-problematic updates are also still available for download as of late afternoon on August 27.

The security bulletin says that “Microsoft strongly recommends that customers who have not uninstalled the 2982791 update [i.e., the old version, released on Patch Tuesday] do so prior to applying the 2993651 update [the new version].” This recommendation applies to users whether they are having problems with the old update or not. Note that Windows Update and Automatic Updates do not remove the old version.

To uninstall the update go to Control Panel, Programs and Features, Installed Updates, find the 2982791 update in the Microsoft Windows section, right click and uninstall. You can find the update by searching for “KB2982791” in the Control Panel for uninstalling updates. See the screen capture below. 

The update addresses three Windows kernel bugs, two of which could result in privilege elevation and the third in exposure of sensitive kernel information.

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Should you wait for Windows 9?

Ignore the gimmicks and stick with Windows 7, says Rick Maybury

Steve Ballmer speaks during a press conference at Pier 57 to officially launch Windows 8 in New York

My Windows 7 desktop PC is five years old, my daughters XP about the same. I have always thought that five years is about the life of a computer and am contemplating changing them. Not being very impressed by what I have seen of Windows 8, my idea was to purchase two new Windows 7 machines. However, I am now having second thoughts, as I understand that Windows 9 is due next year and should be an improvement on Windows 8. Would you recommend that I go ahead with Windows 7, which I like and I am familiar with, or might it be a better bet to hang on for the launch of Windows 9?John Martin, by email
 

The oft-quoted five-year lifecycle for PCs has more to do with how often people are persuaded by clever marketing and advertising to replace their computers, rather than the durability of operating systems and computer hardware. Be in no doubt that Windows 9 will have lots of flashy features that you did not know you needed but if Windows 7 – arguably the best Windows to date – does everything that you and your daughter wants it to do, why wait? Experience also teaches us that it is often unwise to be ‘the first kid on the block’ where any form of technology is concerned.

Dirt cheap Windows PCs already hitting the streets, with help from Microsoft

 

Microsoft is helping hardware makers build low-priced Windows PCs to combat Chromebooks and the early results of that effort are hitting the market.

 

Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Lenovo are selling laptops priced less than $250 that run on Windows 8.1 with Bing, a royalty-free version of the OS. The OS is the same as Windows 8.1 but with Bing as the default search engine in Internet Explorer.

 

Microsoft is using Windows 8.1 with Bing, which was unveiled in May, to spread Windows to more low-cost PCs and tablets. It’s also an attempt to take on Google’s free Chrome OS, which is used in Chromebooks, an inexpensive and lightweight laptop family growing in popularity among the Web-based computing audience.

 

The first PCs with Windows 8.1 with Bing were shown at Computex in June. The cheapest PC is a desktop sold by Lenovo for $225, while the laptops start at $249. Microsoft has promised to bring down laptop prices to $199 with HP’s Stream 14, which has not been unveiled, although information about it has leaked out.

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