Windows 11 Moment 3 is just around the corner and I look at 3 of the most important changes. Plus, RHEL is getting AD domain auto join and Microsoft is scanning your password protected zip files.
Windows 11 Moment 3 is just around the corner and I look at three of the most important changes, plus Red Hat Enterprise Linux is getting AD domain auto join and Microsoft is scanning your password protected ZIP files.
Hello, I’m Russell Smith and I’m Editorial Director of Petri.com.
Windows 11 Moment 3
So, Microsoft is going to release Windows 11 Moment 3 next week as an optional update for those who want to test it out before it becomes more generally available in the middle of June. And while there are no major new features in this update, like for instance Moment 1 brought us tabs in File Explorer, there are some important quality of life updates I think that are coming as part of this update.
Now the first one that I want to discuss is the changes they’re making to the Alt TAB experience. Now at the moment, for instance, you can have in Microsoft Edge the Alt Tab experience show as many open tabs as you currently have open across all of your open Edge instances. But that is changing with this update, and they’re going to limit that to a maximum of 20.
Now of course the problem with this before was that you could have, I think by default it was 3 and then you could choose another number. And then it was unlimited. So, I think limiting this 20 is going make it really a more manageable experience for people like me who want to see quite a lot of open tabs, but not necessary every single open tab that I have in the Alt Tab display. You know I can have maybe 100 tabs open at one time and that becomes just impossible to manage.
Now one of the other important changes that they’re bringing in this update is displaying 2 factor authentication codes in notifications that you can actually copy out. So, whether you receive a 2FA code in an e-mail or as part of an SMS, maybe if you have Phone Link set up for instance, you will see that notification now in the notifications area with the option to copy it out so that you can more quickly log in to whatever service you’re trying to access at that point in time.
Now another change that I suppose is going to affect power users more than anybody else, is that File Explorer is now getting Access Keys. So if you don’t know what Access Keys are, these are basically a little bit like keyboard shortcuts, but they’re not really keyboard shortcuts, because if you think a keyboard shortcut really allows you to perform or automate a particular action by just pressing a key, whereas Access Keys what they really allow you to do is to navigate around the interface of an application without using the mouse. So, it’s just a quick way to navigate a menu and find an action on what it is that you’re looking for.
So, for instance, all of Microsoft’s desktop suite of applications like Word and Excel, you know they’ve had this feature for many years. So, now this has coming to File Explorer, so you’ll be able to navigate around that with Access Keys, so those are the three big things that are changing, at least in my opinion in this Moment. But there’s a whole load of other minor improvements that are coming. I just wanted to quickly mention Phone Link and the iOS support that Microsoft has added that is now available to all Windows 11 users. They’ve been rolling this feature out gradually over the past couple of weeks. Now, it’s pretty limited at the moment. The main thing you have there is call and SMS support, but there’s no support for transferring files between your phone and your PC. Microsoft is saying at this stage well you should just use the iCloud integration with the Photos app. Well, that’s all very well to say, but I mean, I’m an iPhone user, but I don’t use iCloud and I have no intention of using it. So, yeah, Microsoft, that doesn’t really work for me, and I’m guessing there’s a lot of people who don’t want to use iCloud for whatever reason. So you know, I do feel that this is really missing that ability to transfer photos, and I’m going to stick with Intel Unison I think for the time being. I mean it’s far from perfect, but at least it has the ability to do all that file transfer stuff when you really need it.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 9.2
So, the latest version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux is now available. It’s version 9.2 and there are a couple of notable things in this release that I think are worth mentioning. Now, the one that stood out to me is that they’re using now a process called ‘realmd’. So, I think this is some kind of Linux daemon, or it’s like a Windows system service that runs in the background, that is going to allow system administrators to automatically, as I understood at least, join enterprise Linux servers automatically to Microsoft Active Directory.
And of course that’s great for helping to manage security. Now, there’s a couple of other things connected to security, so SCAP profiles and Ansible DevOps content are enabled in this build for enhanced system checks that align with CIS security benchmarks. So, that’s great.
And it also comes with an improved web console that is going to make it much easier to automatically configure encrypted disc unlocking on root file systems using NBDE. Now, I think that was possible before in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but this new feature or accessibility in the web console is going to make that much easier for administrators so that they can protect, obviously the data at the rest when it’s on disc.
Microsoft scanning password protected zip files
So, I don’t think this is new information, but there’s been a little bit of a fuss about it on Twitter this week. So, security researcher Andrew Brandt seemed to discover that one of the files that he was storing on SharePoint, so he basically because he’s a security researcher, he often packages up known malware into a zip file then stores it or sends it. And he did this via SharePoint Online during the week. And he got a notification to say that his password protected ZIP file was infected with malware, which of course it was because he purposely put the malware inside that password protected encrypted zip file.
So, he was a little bit taken aback by the fact that Microsoft was able to scan that and to notify him of the potentially well as we know not potentially but actual malicious content. Now, Kevin Beaumont who’s you know also a well-known expert in this space chimed into the conversation and said that Microsoft actually has several methods for trying to access password protected zips to scan them for malware and that Microsoft is doing this across all of its Microsoft 365 services. You know, OneDrive, SharePoint, e-mail. etc.
So, how do they get access to your password protected zip files? Well, a couple of ways. They can just basically scan a list of known passwords and try each one and see if it unlocks your zip file. They also scan your email to see if you sent the password for that particular zip file in another e-mail and then they try it and see if it will unlock it. Of course, people often do that. They will send the password separately in a follow up e-mail. So, there are a couple of ways that Microsoft is trying to get access to those files.
So, I guess this is, you know, potentially a privacy issue for many people, but it’s, you know, really difficult line for Microsoft to balance in terms of how they secure these files, because often it’s the way that malware payloads are distributed through these password protected zips or encrypted zip files. So, they need to balance security against privacy, and that’s always a difficult thing. But in case you weren’t aware, password protecting your zip file and then uploading it to the Microsoft Cloud doesn’t provide you essentially with any additional privacy. So, do be aware of that.
Now, Microsoft didn’t respond to comments, when I think it was Ars Technica asked them about this issue. But Google did, and Google said that we don’t scan password protected zip files when they’re uploaded to our cloud. But if you upload a password protected zip file or probably download it, then we will flag it so you know, flag it so you know this could be potentially harmful, even though we haven’t scanned the contents of it.
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