Microsoft has a warning about working in the metaverse

You’re probably familiar with the online dangers that you could come across while working from home on your own computer or one provided by your employer. Spam, malware, adware, and viruses are just some things to think about. With the future of the workplace now possibly heading into the online metaverse, these are all dangers that could still come up for workers — and Microsoft has a warning about it.

In a recent post, Charlie Bell, the executive vice president for security, compliance, identity, and management at Microsoft, talked about the cornerstones for securing work in the metaverse. Bell believes that with the metaverse, the security stakes will be higher than imagined, and lists ways that companies and the major players in the space can stay safe when bringing workers online to the virtual metaverse. More importantly, though, he also touched on how anyone can easily be impersonated in the metaverse.

“Fraud and phishing attacks targeting your identity could come from a familiar face – literally – like an avatar who impersonates your co-worker, instead of a misleading domain name or email address. These types of threats could be deal-breakers for enterprises if we don’t act now,” explained Bell.

So, how can this security and trust be accomplished? According to Bell, it’ll have to do a lot with information sharing and collaboration on metaverse technologies. It also has to do with adopting multi-factor authentication and password-free authentication in metaverse platforms. Even giving IT admins a console to control the experiences is something that Microsoft and Bell suggest.

According to Bell, the security of work in the metaverse has to come from the apps within, and there’s only “one chance” to establish specific security principles that can create trust and peace of mind for metaverse experiences while it’s still new. “The security community must work together to build a foundation to safely work, shop, and play,” said Bell.

Transparency is the final way of securing the metaverse for everyone. Bell hopes that those who hold leadership positions in the space will be prepared to answer questions from security experts about terms of service, encryption, and vulnerability reporting. “Let’s make the lessons we’ve learned about identity, transparency, and the security community’s powerful collaboration our top ideals to enable this next wave of technology to reach its full potential,” said Bell.

Editors’ Choice

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Google Chat adds warning banners to protect against phishing attacks

Google Chat has replaced Hangouts and will now display banners warning you against potential phishing and malware attacks coming from personal accounts, Google announced on Thursday. This tweak for Google Chat is the latest expansion of Google’s attempts to prevent phishing.

During its 2022 I/O developer conference, Google discussed several security measures it has implemented to enhance user safety, including warnings against potential security issues and recommendations to fix them. Google also laid out other plans for security measures, like expanded two-step verification, ad customization, and more data security.

Warning labels about suspicious links in Google Chat

Warning labels about suspicious links in Google Chat.
Image: Google

Google’s new warning banners first appeared in Gmail on Workspace accounts to point out attempts to lure someone with a link that could be used for malware, phishing, or ransomware. At the end of April, Google expanded the banners to Google Docs, warning users against suspected malicious files in several Google Workspace apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawing) no matter where they opened the link from.

This new feature is rolling out over the next couple of weeks, and it will be available for both personal Google accounts and for all Google Workspace customers.

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Windows 11 release date and early download warning

Today Microsoft revealed bits of this newest version of Windows 11 before releasing said software into the wild. If you’re interested in using Windows 11, you’ll be able to download the update soon – provided you have a new enough and powerful enough computer. It’s likely that most new Windows devices sold starting in the year 2022 will have this version of Windows – and new devices will be launched with this future edition starting later this year.

Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for existing Windows 10 users. If you have a PC that can handle Windows 11, you’re probably good to go! That includes around 64GB of free storage, 4GB RAM, and a 64-bit CPU – no sweat. You’ll also need UEFI, Secure Boot capable firmware, Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0, and a graphics card that is compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver.

Your display can be a tiny baby! The most basic requirements here include a 9-inch (diagonally) display panel with 8 bits per color channel with 720p (high definition) or better.

If you’re not the sort of person who likes to download stuff until it’s good and ready and effectively bug-free, you can wait to download Windows 11 through the Windows Update system as you would usually with any other software update.

You absolutely WILL need a Microsoft account to “complete device setup on first use” for Windows 11 Home edition. A Microsoft account is required “for some features” otherwise, and all Windows 11 editions will require internet access to “perform updates and to download and take advantage of some features.”

Windows 11 will be available to Windows Insiders as early as next week – likely June 30, 2021. We recommend you do NOT download Windows 11 from any 3rd-party source before then. This is PRIME TIME for malicious software builds out there in the wild, and the chances you’ll get burned while attempting to gain access to Windows 11 before Microsoft releases said software are immense!

IN SHORT: Microsoft revealed this newest version of Windows at a live event here on June 24, 2021. This latest version of Windows was the most major update to the operating system in several years, bringing about changes that Microsoft’s been working on in relatively successful secrecy for some months (or years!) Take a peek at the timeline below for more information on the next edition of Windows and where we go from here.

Microsoft suggested today that the release date for Windows 11 was “later this year.” Until then, Microsoft recommended that users take a peek at the bottom of this page where they have a compatibility checker app for Windows 11. It’s simple and small and not particularly necessary unless you have NO IDEA what sort of hardware you’re using right now.

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Nextdoor app targets toxic behavior with anti-racism warning

Nextdoor, the app that allows neighbors to connect with each other and share details about their communities, is introducing a new feature that will detect and warn against potentially racist content. The company announced the new feature today, explaining that it will ask users to reconsider their posts before sharing them if certain offensive language is detected.

If you’ve ever used Nextdoor, you’re likely familiar with some of the drama that can take place on community boards — as well as abusive behavior that not only ruins the experience for everyone, but that can also be harmful to people living in the community. Nextdoor’s new feature aims to reduce those messages.

The company says that it has rolled out an anti-racism prompt that will appear in the app when certain phrases are detected. Though the user won’t be blocked from posting, they will be asked to consider editing their content before publishing it to ensure it doesn’t violate the company’s policy and bring harm to users.

For example, Nextdoor has banned the use of the phrase ‘White Lives Matter’ and doesn’t allow the use of ‘Blue Lives Matter’ or ‘All Lives Matter’ if the post aims to ‘undermine racial equality.’ Users will see the warning starting this week on mobile devices.

This isn’t the first time Nextdoor has introduced a prompt designed to reduce problematic content on its platform. Back in 2019, Nextdoor introduced a warning called the ‘Kindness Reminder’ that spots ‘offensive language’ and encourages the user to edit their post or comment before sharing it.

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Instagram has a strong warning for users who send abusive DMs

Instagram has had enough of users who send abusive and harassing private messages through its platform and is back with a strong warning for anyone who continues to do this. In an update on additional steps it is taking to reduce abuse, Instagram warned that it will be issuing ‘stricter penalties’ going forward.

According to Instagram, users who break the platform’s rules in DMs repeatedly will have their account disabled. This is a more severe step over the previous penalty, which involves disabling the offending user from sending additional messages for the restricted period of time.

A user who has their account disabled for this reason won’t be able to make a new account in an effort to get around the penalty. Beyond that, Instagram also says that it will cooperate with UK law enforcement when it comes to requests for legal data in cases of hate speech.

Instagram notes that its policy on hate speech covers abusive comments and posts ‘based on […] protected characteristics,’ including content like blackface that falls in the hate speech category. According to the company, it addressed 6.5 million instances of hate speech from July to September 2020, 95-percent of which was found before it could be reported by users.

Instagram likewise notes that its proactive AI-based warnings when someone is about to post something unacceptable have helped reduce abusive content. As well, the comment filters users have access to have also helped protect the platform from this type of content. Everyone will soon get access to the feature that lets them disable DMs from people they don’t follow.

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