Windows 11 Is Here: Check Your PC Is Compatible Now Before Tomorrow’s Launch

As I write this, Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows 11 is just one day away from beginning its rollout and while according to Microsoft it will be a lengthy process starting with specific devices first, you should check whether your PC or laptop is compatible now with this simple tool.

Edit: Windows 11 has launched – See my article below on how to install it right now

How To Install Windows 11 Right Now

Microsoft has released a PC Health Check tool that will check your PC’s hardware for Windows 11 compatibility. There are quite stringent requirements this time around if you’re upgrading via Windows Update, and a lot has to do with whether your PC’s hardware – specifically the processor – is compatible, and also whether a security option called TPM 2.0 is enabled in the motherboard’s BIOS.

Firstly, to download the tool, head here and go to the bottom of the page. The tool will install and then you can run it by clicking the ‘Check now’ button.

This will check the various requirements quickly and come back with a green light, or highlight the issue. For me, and for quite a few others, it has been that TMP 2.0 was not enabled. This is a security feature that is often disabled as standard in your motherboard’s BIOS or EFI.

Thankfully, it’s usually relatively simple to enable it. You can either follow the instructions included in the tool, or if this fails, as it did with me, you can head into your PC or laptop’s BIOS to enable it. To do this, restart/reboot your device and as soon as the screen goes black, start tapping the ‘del’ key on the keyboard.

This should tell your PC to enter the BIOS, which will look a bit like the above image. Once in here, things are tricky as there are hundreds of different layouts, but in general, you’ll looking for the advanced section or security. For instance, on my Asus AMD processor-based motherboard, under advanced, there’s an option for AMD fTPM configuration.

Above you can see it’s showing as enabled – it was disabled as standard. Be sure not to touch other settings then all you need to do is exit and save your changes.

This took about 60 seconds for me once I’d found the option, but if you struggle to find it, check your motherboard or laptop manufacturers documentation or website to see how to enable it. Unfortunately, some older hardware may not be compatible.

As you can see above, the TPM 2.0 option is now green and I can upgrade to Windows 11. You might be able to bypass some of these issues if you have older hardware by performing a fresh install rather than an upgrade. I’ll be covering this in a future guide once it’s possible so follow me here on Forbes for the latest PC hardware news and reviews and don’t forget to check me out on YouTubeInstagram and Facebook as well.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’m a technology journalist with a 25 year-long interest in computer hardware, gadgets and technology. I cover the latest news and rumors about companies such as Intel.

Source: Windows 11 Is Here: Check Your PC Is Compatible Now Before Tomorrow’s Launch

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Windows 7 End Of Life: What You Need To Do Now To Stay Safe

A legion of vocal PC enthusiasts swears by Windows 7. Why? Because it stays out of your way, and it just works. Until today. On January 14, 2020, Microsoft ends Windows 7’s extended support. Windows 7 has reached end of life and the free Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus program will no longer be supported either.

Your PC will keep operating, of course. Microsoft isn’t literally pulling the plug on your devices. But Windows 7 won’t receive any more updates or security patches, meaning your PC will also be very vulnerable to all those nasty malware programs garnering headlines seemingly every day. If you keep using Windows 7 — and over a quarter of all computers run it, per NetMarketShare — you’re on your own, and the Internet can get nasty.

We can help you stay as safe as possible, though.

How to survive with Windows 7 (at least for a little while longer…)
If you do decide to stick with Windows 7 after Jan. 14, you’ll need to take some precautions:

– Update everything in the January 2020 Microsoft Patch Tuesday release. It’ll be your last chance to make sure Windows and other Microsoft software are as secure as possible.

– Uninstall the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser. It’s a huge security hole. Download Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox instead.

– Ditch Microsoft Office and any of its components, such as Word, Excel or Outlook. Switch to Google’s office suite or to LibreOffice. For an email client to replace Outlook, try Gmail or Thunderbird.

– Turn off Java in your browsers.

– Turn off Adobe Flash Player in your browsers.

– Install one of the best antivirus programs. Microsoft will stop developing its own antivirus software for Windows 7, Microsoft Security Essentials, so you’ll need something else.

The bottom line is: Upgrade to Windows 10 ASAP and get a decent antivirus software regardless.

Saving $20-$40 per year on a decent antivirus program will cost you dearly if you get infected with nasty malware that will risk your privacy and valuable data.

Your old Windows 7 PC will be like a sitting duck for every hacker under the sun (or looming in the darkness), without a proper antivirus program.Jump straight to:Best PC Antivirus SoftwareThe Best PC Antivirus 2020 at a Glance:

  1. TotalAV
  2. Norton
  3. Avira

1. TotalAV – From £19.00

Award-winning antivirus. Trusted by 10 million users around the world.

✔ Unbeatable in terms of Value-For-Money
✔ Multi-level virus protection and outstanding detection rate
✔ Includes VPN, Firewall and many other security enhancements
✔ Save 80% on the newest 2020 Edition via our link!

2. Norton – From £24.99

Norton is one of the most well-known brands in the competitive antivirus business – and with good reason…

✔ Protect your PC, Mac or mobile device
✔ Won the ‘Best Protection Award’ from AV-TEST
✔ Virus Protection Promise (Money Back Guarantee)
✔ Best Parental Control features

3. Avira – From £29.99

Avira Antivirus is a German company with more than 30 years of experience, so quality is guaranteed

✔ First class malware protection
✔ Effortlessly detects all known ransomware threats
✔ Capable of repairing damaged files
✔ Lightweight updates don’t impact system speeds

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Britec09

Windows 7 End of Life | What to Do Now ►SUBSCRIBE for more: https://www.youtube.com/user/Britec09… Windows 7’s days are numbered, Windows 7 is coming to a end on Jan. 14, 2020. What does this mean? It means Microsoft will not support Windows 7 anymore. No Updates, No Security Patches, No Support, No Fixes…nothing. I will show you how to prepare for Windows 7 End of Life and show you everything you need to know about Windows 7 End of Life.

5 Tips for Windows 7 End of Life 1. Continue to ignore advise and continue to use Windows 7? Not a good idea, you will be vulnerable to ransomware, malware and malicious software without continued support from Microsoft. No Updates, No Security Patches, No Fixes, Its a massive security risk. 2. Buy a new Windows 10 license from Microsoft. Microsoft officially ended the free upgrade to Windows 10 and offer you a chance to buy a license from them and a massive cost of $200 for Windows 10 Pro, or $140 for Windows 10 Home.

These prices are way to high for most people and will opt for other ways to buy at licence key. 3. Upgrade to Windows 10 for free? Yes that is right, Microsoft never shut off there free upgrade server, so you can still upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 legally. How long will this last? no one knows that question apart from Microsoft. So do it as so as possible. 4. Buy a New Computer Maybe its just time to buy a new computer, if your system is super old and you fancy something new, now is the time to buy a NEW PC. 5. Install Linux for FREE Yes you can use a Linux OS for FREE and it should run great on old hardware. Yes you will need to learn a new operating system, but that is part of the fun and its FREE. Linux Distro * Pop OS * Mint * Ubuntu * Manjaro and many more Useful Information: https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/h…https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/h…https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/h…https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/windo…https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/h… ——————— My Social Links: 🔵 View My Channel – http://youtube.com/Britec09 🔵 View My Playlists –https://www.youtube.com/user/Britec09… 🔵 Follow on Twitter – http://twitter.com/Britec09 🔵 Follow on Facebook: http://facebook.com/BritecComputers 🔵 View my Website: http://BritecComputers.co.uk 🔵 My Official Email: brian@briteccomputers.co.uk 🔵 My Discord: https://discord.gg/YAuGm5j#Windows7EndofLife#Windows7#EndOfSupport

Windows 10 Users Beware New Hacker Attack Confirmed By Google, Microsoft

As Microsoft confirms a Google-disclosed and unpatched zero-day vulnerability is being targeted by attackers right now, here’s what you need to know.

Microsoft has confirmed that an unpatched ‘zero-day’ vulnerability in the Windows operating system, affecting every version from Windows 7 through to Windows 10, is being actively targeted. Microsoft was first informed of the vulnerability by Google’s Project Zero team, a dedicated unit comprised of leading vulnerability hunters, which tracks down these so-called zero-day security bugs.

Because Project Zero had identified that the security problem was being actively exploited in the wild by attackers, it gave Microsoft a deadline of just seven days to fix it before disclosure. Microsoft failed to issue a security patch within that hugely restrictive timeframe, and Google went ahead and published details of the zero-day vulnerability, which is tracked as CVE-2020-17087.

The bug itself sits within the Windows Kernel Cryptography Driver, known as cng.sys, and could allow an attacker to escalate the privileges they have when accessing a Windows machine. The full technical detail can be found within the Google Project Zero disclosure, but slightly more simply put, it’s a memory buffer-overflow problem that could give an attacker admin-level control of the targeted Windows computer. Recommended For You

While attackers are known to be actively targeting Windows systems right now, that doesn’t mean your system is going down. Firstly, I should point out that, according to a confirmation from Shane Huntley, director of Google’s Threat Analysis Group, the attackers spotted exploiting the vulnerability are not targeting any U.S. election-related systems at this point. That’s good news, and there’s more.

While Microsoft has confirmed that the reported attack is real, it also suggests that it is limited in scope being targeted in nature. This is not, at least as of yet, a widespread broad-sweep exploit. Microsoft says that it has no evidence of any indication of widespread exploits.

PROMOTED Civic Nation BrandVoice | Paid Program Election Day On College Campuses: Not A Day Off, A Day On MORE FROM FORBESNew Windows 10 Remote Hacking Threat Confirmed-Homeland Security Says Update NowBy Davey Winder

Then there’s the attack itself which requires two vulnerabilities to be chained together for a successful exploit to happen. One of them has already been patched. That was a browser-based vulnerability, CVE-2020-15999, in Chrome browsers, including Microsoft Edge. As long as your browser is up to date, you are protected. Microsoft Edge was updated on October 22 while Google Chrome was updated on October 20.

There are no known other attack chains for the Windows vulnerability at this point. Which doesn’t mean your machine is 100% safe, as an attacker with access to an already compromised system could still exploit it. However, it does mean there’s no need to hit the panic button, truth be told. Microsoft has also confirmed that the vulnerability cannot be exploited to affect cryptographic functionality.

I reached out to Microsoft, and a spokesperson told me that “Microsoft has a customer commitment to investigate reported security issues and update impacted devices to protect customers.”

As for that seven-day disclosure deadline from the Google Project Zero team, the Microsoft spokesperson said that “while we work to meet all researchers’ deadlines for disclosures, including short-term deadlines like in this scenario, developing a security update is a balance between timeliness and quality, and our ultimate goal is to help ensure maximum customer protection with minimal customer disruption.”

Although Microsoft has not commented on the likely timing of a security patch to prevent exploitation of this Windows vulnerability, the Project Zero technical lead, Ben Hawkes, has tweeted that it is expected as part of the Patch Tuesday updates on November 10.

How big a threat is this to your average Windows user? That remains to be seen, but currently I’d classify it as a be aware but don’t panic situation. Hang-fire, ensure your web browsers are bang up to date, and you should be fine. There are far more significant risks to your data than this zero-day attack, in my never humble opinion. Risks such as phishing in all forms, password reuse, lack of two-factor authentication and software that isn’t kept up to date with security patches.

MORE FROM FORBESHacker Uploads Own Fingerprints To Crime Scene In Dumbest Cyber Attack EverBy Davey Winder Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Davey Winder

Davey Winder

I’m a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share.

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Business News

As Microsoft confirms a Google-disclosed and unpatched zero-day vulnerability is being targeted by attackers right now, here’s what you need to know. Microsoft has confirmed that an unpatched ‘zero-day’ vulnerability in the Windows operating system, affecting every version from Windows 7 through to Windows 10, is being actively targeted. Microsoft was first informed of the vulnerability by Google’s Project Zero team, a dedicated unit comprised of leading vulnerability hunters, which tracks down these so-called zero-day security bugs. Because Project Zero had identified that the security problem was being actively exploited in the wild by attackers, it gave Microsoft a deadline of just seven days to fix it before disclosure.

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Microsoft Confirms New Windows CPU Attack Vulnerability, Advises All Users To Update Now

A security vulnerability that affects Windows computers running on 64-bit Intel and AMD processors could give an attacker access to your passwords, private conversations, and any other information within the operating system kernel memory. Users are advised to update Windows in order to mitigate against this new CPU “SWAPGS attack” risk.

What is the SWAPGS attack?

“We call this the SWAPGS attack because the vulnerability leverages the SWAPGS instruction,” Bogdan Botezatu, director of threat research and reporting at Bitdefender, says “an under-documented instruction that makes the switch between user-owned memory and kernel memory.” Botezatu also says that, at this point, “all Intel CPUs manufactured between 2012 and today are vulnerable to the SWAPGS attack.” Which means every Intel chip going back to the “Ivy Bridge” processor is vulnerable if inside a machine running Windows.

However, it appears it is not just Intel CPUs that are affected by the SWAPGS attack vulnerability. According to a Red Hat advisory published August 6th, the threat “applies to x86-64 systems using either Intel or AMD processors.” Something that AMD itself disputes.

An AMD spokesperson pointed me in the direction of a public statement online: “AMD is aware of new research claiming new speculative execution attacks that may allow access to privileged kernel data. Based on external and internal analysis, AMD believes it is not vulnerable to the SWAPGS variant attacks because AMD products are designed not to speculate on the new GS value following a speculative SWAPGS. For the attack that is not a SWAPGS variant, the mitigation is to implement our existing recommendations for Spectre variant 1.”

That same Red Hat advisory stated that “based on industry feedback, we are not aware of any known way to exploit this vulnerability on Linux kernel-based systems.” During my briefing with Botezatu, he noted that “Linux machines are also impacted,” however, due to the operating system architecture they are “less prone to this type of attack, as it is less reliable.” Botezatu says that other operating system vendors are not impacted at this point, “but are still investigating similar attack avenues leveraging the SWAPGS attack.”

As already mentioned, Bitdefender researchers have been working with Intel for more than a year to address the risk from this new “side-channel” attack that, the company said, “bypasses all known mitigations implemented after the discovery of Spectre and Meltdown in early 2018.”

However, it has waited until now to disclose the information as Microsoft has issued a fix to address the vulnerability as part of the July 9 “Patch Tuesday” updates. Even so, despite the best efforts of everyone concerned, Bitdefender admitted that “it is possible that an attacker with knowledge of the vulnerability could have exploited it to steal confidential information.”

A Microsoft spokesperson provided me with the following statement: “We’re aware of this industry-wide issue and have been working closely with affected chip manufacturers and industry partners to develop and test mitigations to protect our customers. We released security updates in July, and customers who have Windows Update enabled and applied the security updates are protected automatically.”

I understand that as soon as Microsoft became aware of the issue, it worked quickly to address it and release an update as soon as possible. Microsoft works closely with both researchers and industry partners to make customers more secure, and as such did not publish details until August 6 as part of a coordinated vulnerability disclosure.

Red Hat has stated that “there is no known complete mitigation other than updating the kernel and rebooting the system. This kernel patch builds on existing Spectre mitigations from previous updates.”

So, to address the issue for Linux machines requires updates to the Linux kernel in combination with microcode updates. “Red Hat customers running affected versions of the Red Hat products are strongly recommended to update them as soon as errata are available,” Red Hat advises, “customers are urged to apply the appropriate updates immediately and reboot to mitigate this flaw correctly.”

Meanwhile, an Intel spokesperson provided the following statement via email:

“On August 6th, researchers from Bitdefender published a paper entitled “Security Implications of Speculatively Executing Segmentation Related Instructions on Intel CPUs.” As stated in their paper, Intel expects that exploits described by the researchers are addressed through the use of existing mitigation techniques. We believe strongly in the value of coordinated disclosure and value our partnership with the research community. As a best practice, we continue to encourage everyone to keep their systems up-to-date.”

How is the SWAPGS attack related to Spectre?

Like the Spectre vulnerability which dominated the headlines for so long, this new side-channel exploit takes advantage of the speculative execution functionality of modern processors. Simply put, that functionality speeds up the CPU by enabling it to make a bunch of educated guesses as to the instructions that will come at it next. Thomas Brewster has a good primer on these side-channel attacks in this Forbes article from May 22, 2018.

Where SWAPGS differs is in the attack methodology as it combines that speculative execution of instructions with the use of that previously mentioned SWAPGS instruction by Windows operating systems within a gadget.

How easily can this attack be executed?

The chances of falling victim to a SWAPGS attack now that the details have been disclosed have increased, so users are advised to apply available updates as a matter of urgency if they have not already done so. However, it should be remembered that, as Botezatu admits, “this is not your run of the mill attack against regular computers, as running the SWAPGS attack is time-consuming.”

Your average threat actor would instead rely on lucrative, and easy to execute, attack methodologies such as phishing. “On the other side, exploiting this bug from a threat actor perspective brings significant advantages,” Botezatu warns “it circumvents anti-malware defenses and would leave no traces on the compromised system.”

The scary firmware attack surface explained

Ian Thornton Trump, head of cybersecurity at Amtrust International, knows what this “BIOS and firmware” attack surface looks like. “To understand why it’s so scary comes down to one simple concept,” Thornton-Trump tells me, “if the firmware, BIOS and microcode layers of a computer are insecure than it is impossible to put a secure operating system on top of that.”

Indeed, when the original Spectre threat story first broke, I recall Thornton-Trump speculating that the modern CPU is actually an operating system unto itself; concluding that architectural and procedural vulnerabilities will be aggressively explored by security researchers.

“Now we have a new development in this story,” Thornton-Trump says, “inserting code into speculative execution can yield an exploit for a component of the 64-bit Windows Kernel.” What does this mean? “It means the Operating System is no longer secure because the CPU is not secure,” and the result of that is a leak of user mode data.

Which users are at most real-world risk from SWAPGS?

“Criminals with knowledge of these attacks would have the power to uncover the most vital, best-protected information of both companies and private individuals around the world, and the corresponding power to steal, blackmail, sabotage and spy,” Gavin Hill, vice-president for datacenter and network security products at Bitdefender warned.

“I don’t think this is going to be leveraged into a Wannacry or Notpetya level of attack,” Thornton-Trump says, “and I don’t think it will be adopted by cyber-criminals with financial motivations.” These are the sort of vulnerabilities that “Government Cloud” and “Military Mega-Cloud” projects should be aware of, according to Thornton-Trump.  “For people with sensitive data in virtual environments these sorts of exploits need to be considered in the threat model,” he concludes, “for the rest of us, we have far worse issues to deal with.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m a three-decade veteran technology journalist and have been a contributing editor at PC Pro magazine since the first issue in 1994. A three-time winner of the BT Security Journalist of the Year award (2006, 2008, 2010) I was also fortunate enough to be named BT Technology Journalist of the Year in 1996 for a forward-looking feature in PC Pro called ‘Threats to the Internet.’ In 2011 I was honored with the Enigma Award for a lifetime contribution to IT security journalism. Contact me in confidence at davey@happygeek.com if you have a story to reveal or research to share.

Source: Microsoft Confirms New Windows CPU Attack Vulnerability, Advises All Users To Update Now

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