Last week, I wrote about my longing for Windows users to have the same robust experience macOS users have for accessing iMessage on their Mac devices. Intel’s Unison app, now available on select Intel Evo-certified laptops from HP, Lenovo and Acer — and possibly more Windows laptops in the future — is a modest step in the right direction.

With that in mind, I’ve moderated hopes for Microsoft’s updated Phone Link app, which is now available in Windows 11’s preview build 22623.1325. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s attempt to forge robust iPhone text messaging support in Windows is equally weak.

Microsoft formally provides access to iMessage on Windows using its Phone Link program. For Windows Insiders, a preview of the upgraded app is now possible. With the upgrade, the updated Phone Link app enables iPhone users to make and receive calls, send and receive messages using iMessage, and view their phone alerts from inside Windows 11. The program also allows iPhone users to connect their handsets to Windows laptops or PCs. ,

What is phone link?

Unlike the Intel Unison app, which users will need to download from the Windows App Store on both their PC and iPhone, Phone Link is embedded in this new preview build of Windows 11. The app connects Windows machines to iPhones via Bluetooth, sending instructions and messages. iMessage App.

microsoft phone link app messaging

Phone Link (Image Credit: Microsoft)

Sadly, Phone Link has the same limitations that plague the Intel Unison app. You can communicate directly from your PC with contacts who also have iPhones. However, you will not be able to participate in group messages or send pictures in communications. PC users will see their iMessage conversations in truncated form.

limits, limits, more limits

Only messages sent or received through the phone link are shown in discussions, so you won’t be able to see the entire communication history with the other party. This Microsoft app cannot differentiate between a text message received via iMessage and a regular SMS message; Phone Link uses neither a blue nor a green bubble, which is a significant text messaging experience concession compared to using an iPhone with a macOS device.

Since Phone Link can only display photographs on your phone, the app lags a lot when using a macOS device. The image limit is only 2,000 of your recent pictures; Neither video files nor albums are supported. Also, you can’t transfer files and images from your computer to the phone, and there’s no way to transfer files from phone to computer. These limits are almost laughable compared to using a macOS device with an iPhone.

on the bright side

Microsoft has never enabled calls or messaging for iPhone users until now, and iPhone integration for Windows still isn’t comparable to what’s offered for Android. In addition to being native, Phone Link is part of Windows 11, unlike previous PC Link apps from Intel, Dell, and other companies that provided a basic level of iPhone integration.

It looks like with Phone Link, Microsoft seeks to provide the same positive Android phone experience that Windows users now have for iPhone users. In that regard, Microsoft’s heart seems to be in the right place, although its execution with Phone Link falls short.

While the Phone Link doesn’t have any Photos connectivity, I should point out that Microsoft’s Windows 11 Photos app already has iCloud Photos integration. Eventually, this capability may appear in PhoneLink as well. In addition to this new Phone Link capability, other important new features in the Windows 11 Preview update include AI-powered Bing on the taskbar, a screen recording tool, and advanced touch customization.

Microsoft began testing this week with a “limited number” of testers. If interested, you can try out the new Phone Link functionality for iOS via the Dev, Beta, and Release Preview channels for Windows Insiders. Microsoft’s Windows team has indicated that it will broaden the preview’s availability to additional Insiders over time based on the feedback the company gathers with this first set of Insiders.

same old ecosystem story

I’ve mentioned this repeatedly in previous analyses, but the lack of tight integration between the iPhone and Windows is a significant problem for the industry.

Solutions like Microsoft Phone Link, Intel Unison, and Dell and others are all workarounds that feel gimmicky and patchwork-like, especially for users who have played in Apple’s ecosystem for a limited amount of time.

While I give credit to Intel and Microsoft for trying to solve the problem, both companies’ hands are tied until Apple fully supports the iPhone in Windows.

With the overall PC market returning to its pre-pandemic flat (or even contracting) levels this year, perhaps coupled with recessionary conditions that will lengthen the PC buying cycle, there will be real growth in the Windows ecosystem. The lack of iPhone integration is hard for both the consumers. and business.

windows 11 high points

Keeping the iPhone integration issue aside, there’s a lot to like in Windows 11, which has turned into a compelling alternative to macOS.

Compared to Windows 10 and earlier versions, Windows 11 offers faster startup times, better resource management, and better laptop battery life. In the user interface area, Windows 11 features a redesigned UI with new animations and visual effects. It also introduces a new Start menu design that places app icons at the center of the screen, which promises usability benefits.

Windows 11 also sports new productivity enhancements with a new feature called Snap Layouts, which allows users to keep multiple apps side-by-side with predefined layouts.

A new virtual desktop feature in the latest Windows 11 lets users create multiple desktops for different tasks and several new security features, such as a built-in ransomware protection tool, hardware-based isolation for sensitive processes, and better security for remote working scenarios. make capable. ,

Finally, Windows 11 is designed to be backward-compatible (a historical Windows strength) with most Windows 10 applications and hardware.

While Windows’ lack of iPhone integration ultimately doesn’t undermine Windows 11’s value proposition, iPhone integration is a missed opportunity for Microsoft that may never be resolved.

Cross-platform interoperability is a critical element of the Apple ecosystem, and it’s hard to imagine any scenario where Apple hands Intel or Microsoft the “keys to the kingdom” because there’s no business upside for Apple.

The losers, of course, are the millions of Windows users who own iPhones and have to sub-optimize their overall productivity.

A massive phishing campaign built on typoquoting is targeting Windows and Android users with malware, according to a dangerous intelligence firm and cybersecurity website.

More than 200 typoquoting domains are currently used in an ongoing campaign that impersonates 27 brands to trick Web surfers into downloading malicious software to their computers and phones, BleepingComputer reported Sunday.

Threat intelligence firm Cyble revealed the campaign in a blog last week. It reported that phishing websites trick visitors into impersonating Google Wallet, PayPal and Snapchat to download fake Android applications that contain the ERMAC banking trojan.

BleepingComputer explained that while Cyble focused the campaign’s Android malware, a much larger operation aimed at Windows is being deployed by similar threat actors. That campaign features more than 90 websites designed to advance malware and steal cryptocurrency recovery keys.

Typosquatting is an age-old technique of redirecting cyberspace travelers to malicious websites. In this campaign, BleepingComputer explained, the domains used are too close to the original, with a letter swapped out of the domain or an “s” added to it.

It added that the phishing sites also appear to be authentic. They are either clones of real sites or enough to fool a casual visitor.

Typically, victims end up on sites by making typos in the URLs entered in the browser’s address bar, this continues, but URLs are sometimes entered in emails, SMS messages, and on social media as well.

“Typosquatting is not novel,” said Sherrod DeGripo, vice president for threat research and detection at Proofpoint, an enterprise security company in Sunnyvale, Calif.

“Goggle.com was accidentally sending visitors to a malicious site with drive-by malware downloads as early as 2006,” DeGrippo told TechNewsWorld.

abnormal scale

Although the campaign uses tried-and-tested phishing techniques, it does have some distinctive features; Security experts told TechNewsWorld.

“The size of this campaign is unusual, even though the technology is old-school,” said Mike Parkin, senior technical engineer at Vulcan Cyber, a provider of SaaS for enterprise cyber risk prevention in Tel Aviv, Israel.

“This particular operation appears to be on a larger scale than typical typosquatting efforts,” said Jarrod Picker, a competitive intelligence analyst at Deep Instinct, a deep-learning cybersecurity company in New York City.

The focus on mobile apps is another departure from the norm, said Grayson Milborn, director of security intelligence at OpenText Security Solutions, a global threat detection and response company.

“Targeting mobile apps and related websites with the goal of distributing malicious Android apps is something that is not new, but not as common as typosquatting that targets Windows software websites,” he said.

What’s interesting about the campaign is its reliance on both typing mistakes made by users and the deliberate delivery of malicious URLs to the target, observed Hank Schles, senior manager of security solutions at Lookout, a San Francisco-based provider of mobile phishing solutions.

“It appears with a broad campaign [a] There is a high chance of success if an individual or organization does not have proper security,” he said.

Why does typosquatting work?

Phishing campaigns that exploit typoquoting don’t need to be innovative to be successful, maintained Roger Grimes, a defense campaigner at KnowBe4, a security awareness training provider in Clearwater, Fla.

“All typosquatting campaigns are quite effective without the need for advanced or new tricks,” he told TechNewsWorld. “And there are many advanced tricks, such as homoglyphic attacks, that add another layer that can fool even experts.”

Homoglyphs are letters that are similar to each other, such as the letters O and zero (0), or the uppercase I and lowercase letter l (EL), that look similar in a sans-serif font, such as Calibri.

“But you don’t find a ton of these more advanced attacks out there because they don’t need them to be successful,” Grimes continued. “Why work hard when you can work easily?”

Abhay Bhargava, CEO of AppSecEngineer, a security training provider in Singapore, said typosquatting works because of trust.

Bhargava told TechNewsWorld, “People have become so used to seeing and reading well-known names that they think a site, app or software package has almost the same name and the same logo as the original product. “

“People don’t stop to think about minor spelling discrepancies or domain discrepancies that differentiate the original product from the fake,” he said.

Some domain registrars guilty

Picker explained that it’s all too easy to “fat finger” when typing a URL, so PayPal becomes PalPay.

“It will get loads of hits,” he said, “especially since typosquatting attacks typically present a web page that is essentially a clone of the original.”

“Attackers also snatch away multiple similar domains to ensure that many different typos will match,” he said.

Grimes stressed that even the current domain registration system doesn’t help matters.

“The problem is made worse because some services allow bad websites to obtain TLS/HTTPS domain certificates, which many users believe is safe and secure,” he explained. “More than 80% of malware websites have digital certificates. It makes fun of the entire public key infrastructure system.”

“On top of that,” Grimes continued, “the Internet domain naming system is broken, apparently allowing rogue Internet domain registrars to obtain rich registration domains that are easy to see, used in some sort of misdirection attack. Profit incentives, which reward registrants for looking the other way, are a big part of the problem.

Mobile browser more responsive

Hardware form factors can also contribute to the problem.

“Typoquoting is far more effective on mobile devices because of how mobile operating systems are built to simplify the user experience and reduce clutter on small screens,” explained Schles.

“Mobile browsers and apps shorten URLs to improve their user experience, so the victim may not see the full URL in the first place, much less typos,” he continued. “People usually don’t preview URLs on mobile, which is something they can do by hovering over a computer.”

Typosquatting is certainly more effective for phishing on mobile phones because URLs aren’t fully visible, agree CISO and co-founders of Tresorit, an email encryption-based security solutions company in Zurich.

“To run Trojans, not so much because people usually use apps or the Play Store,” he told TechNewsWorld.

How to prevent typosquatting

To protect themselves from falling victim to phishing typosquatting, Picker advises users not to follow links in SMS messages or emails from unknown senders.

He also advised caution while typing URLs, especially on mobile devices.

“When in doubt, the user can directly Google the established domain name, rather than simply clicking on the link,” DeGripo said.

In the meantime, Schles suggested that people should rely on their mobile devices a little less.

“We know how to install anti-malware and anti-phishing solutions on our computers, but there is an inherent belief in mobile devices such that we feel it is not necessary to do so on iOS and Android devices,” he said.

“This campaign is one of countless examples of how threat actors leverage that trust against us,” he said, which demonstrates why it’s important to build a security solution specifically for mobile threats on your smartphone and tablet. .

Fake social media accounts are usually associated with bot networks, but some research released Tuesday showed that many social media users are creating fake accounts of their own for a variety of reasons.

According to a survey of 1,500 US social media users conducted by USCasinos.com, one in three US social media users have multiple accounts on the social media platforms they use. About half (48%) of people with multiple accounts have two or more additional accounts.

Reasons for creating additional accounts vary, but the most commonly cited are “sharing my thoughts without judgment” (41%) and “spying someone else’s profile” (38%).

Other motives behind creating fake accounts include “increasing my chances of winning an online contest” (13%), “increasing likes, followers and other metrics on my real account” (5%), fooling others (2.6%) Are included. and for scamming others (0.4%).

When asked where they were creating their fake accounts, respondents most often named Twitter (41%), followed by Facebook (31%) and Instagram (28%). “That’s because Twitter is pretty much open by default,” said Will Duffield, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a Washington, DC think tank.

“Twitter power users will often have multiple accounts — one for a mass audience, other for smaller groups, one that is open by default, one that is private,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Infographic explains where US residents create fake social media accounts

Infographic Credit: USCasinos.com

Twitter prompted the research by the online casino directory site, noted study co-author Ines Ferreira. “We started this study primarily because of discussions about Elon Musk and the Twitter deal,” she told TechNewsWorld.

That deal is currently tied up in the courts and hinges on a dispute between Musk and the Twitter board over the number of fake accounts on the platform.

sex changing detective

The types of fake accounts in the study, however, differ from the ones that confused Musk. “The survey tackles two completely different issues,” Duffield said.

“On the one hand, you have automated accounts – things operated by machines and often used for spamming. This is the kind of fake account that Elon Musk alleges Twitter has too much,” he told TechNewsWorld. There are pseudonymous accounts, which are being surveyed here. They are operated by users who do not wish to use their real names.”

The survey also found that most users retained their same gender (80.9%) when creating fake accounts. The main exception to that practice, the survey noted, is when users want to spy on other accounts. Then they are in favor of creating a fake account of the opposite sex. In general, one in 10 (13.1%) of those surveyed said they used the opposite sex when creating fake accounts.

Infographic reveals how many fake social media accounts owners own

Infographic Credit: USCasinos.com

“There are a number of reasons why we don’t want everything we do online to be associated with our real name,” Duffield said. “And it doesn’t necessarily have to be cancel culture or anything like that.”

“One of the great things about the Internet is that it allows us to divulge identities without committing ourselves or trying on new individuals so that we can showcase one aspect of ourselves at a time,” he said. Explained.

“It is absolutely normal for people to use pseudonyms online. If anything, using real names is a more contemporary expectation,” he said.

Accounts created with impunity

The study also found that most fake account creators (53.3%) prefer to keep the practice a secret from their inner circle of acquaintances. When they mentioned their fake accounts, they were most likely to mention them, followed by friends (29.9%), family (9.9%) and partners (7.7%).

The researchers also found that more than half of the owners of fake accounts (53.3%) were millennials, while Gen X had an average of three fake accounts and Gen Z had an average of two.

According to the study, the creators of fake accounts do this. When asked whether their fake accounts were reported on the platforms on which they were created, 94% of the participants responded negatively.

Infographic describing platforms where fake social media accounts have been reported

Infographic Credit: USCasinos.com

“Every time these platforms release new algorithms to report these accounts, most of them never report them,” Ferreira said. “There are so many fake accounts, and you can create them so easily, it’s really hard to identify them all.”

“After Elon Musk’s deal with Twitter, these platforms are going to be thinking a little bit more about how they’re going to do it,” she said.

However, Duffield downplayed the need for users to police fake accounts. “Creating these accounts is not against the platform rules, so there is no reason for the platform to consider them a problem,” he said.

“Since these accounts are operated by real people, even though they do not have real names, they act like real people,” he continued. “They’re messaging one person at a time. They’re taking the time to type things out. They have a typical day/night cycle. They’re sending messages to 100 different people at once at all hours of the day. Not sending thousand messages.

harmless fake?

Duffield stressed that unlike fake accounts created by bots, fake accounts created by users are less harmful to the platforms hosting them.

“There is a theory that people abuse more often when they are using a pseudonymous account or one that is not tied to their real identity, but from a sobriety perspective, banning a pseudonymous account is a real person.” No different from banning,” he observed.

“Facebook has had a real-name policy, although it has received a lot of criticism over the years,” he said. “I’d say it’s under-applied intentionally at this point.”

“As long as the pseudonymous account is complying with the rules, this is not a problem for the platforms,” he said.

While bot accounts do not contribute to the social media platform’s business model, fake user accounts do.

Duffield explained, “If the pseudonymous account is being used by a real human being, they are still seeing the ad.” “It’s not like a bot clicking on things without a human being involved. Regardless of the name on the account, if they’re seeing contextual ads and they’re being shown, from a platform standpoint, it’s not really a problem. Is.”

“Activity is reflected in monthly active user statistics, which is what the platform, advertisers and potential buyers care about,” he continued. “The total number of accounts is a useless statistic because people constantly drop accounts.”

Still, Ferreira argued that any form of fake account undermines the credibility of social media platforms. “At some point,” she said, “there are going to be more fake users than real users, so they need to do something about that now.”