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By Namerah S
Google expands Android Earthquake Alerts System notification coverage
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
When Google updated Android back in August 2020, it rolled out a host of new tools and features. That was when the Android Earthquake Alerts System first saw the light of day. The safety feature essentially creates a large network of earthquake detectors by utilizing sensors in Android phones worldwide. Android users around the world can take advantage of the system by looking up "earthquakes near me" for "near-instant" updates.
Initially, notifications for the Android Earthquake Alerts System were only available in select locations in the U.S., with Oregon being the most recent addition. Today the Mountain View-based tech giant announced that the earthquake alerts will now be available in two more locations. Android users in Greece and New Zealand will now receive automatic notifications about earthquakes in the regions. Google states that it chose these countries because they lack early warning system alerts. Users can turn these notifications off if they like.
Meanwhile, residents of Washington in the U.S. are slated to receive the Android alert update in May. Although no mention has been made of further rolling out the safety notifications to other countries, it is likely that more areas will get them in the future.
Cyberpunk 2077 update 1.2 delivers a massive number of fixes and optimizations
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
CD Projekt RED is almost ready to push out its 1.2 major update to Cyberpunk 2077, and today, the studio published the changelog of the release. This stability update was originally slated for February, but following the cyberattack on the CD Projekt group that resulted in encrypted developer data, the release was delayed to the second half of March.
Patch 1.2 will be implementing gameplay tweaks, optimizations, and bug fixes on a massive scale. In gameplay changes, increased spawn radius for police around the player, improved vehicle steering sensitivity, a GTA-like get unstick feature for vehicles, and improved NPC pathing will be present following the update.
Stability and performance improvements include engine optimizations for reduced crashes as well as better frame rates for base consoles and low-end PC hardware. While no exact numbers were released, players may see a significant performance bump with the update considering the scale of changes. Moreover, ray tracing is finally being supported on AMD graphics cards, and it sounds like a driver update will be coming soon to officially enable the feature in the game.
CD Projekt RED is dropping hundreds of bug fixes to Cyberpunk 2077 with the update, aiming to resolve problems across gameplay, quests, the open world, graphics, audio, animation, cinematic design, UI, and other areas. Essentially, every part of the game has gone through a polishing phase.
The update's patch notes can be seen here, which require quite a bit of scrolling to get through. According to CD Projekt RED, these are only the notable changes of the update, with even more changes being included under the hood. The studio said the release will be happening soon, so Cyberpunk 2077 players can expect to see the download hit the PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Stadia versions in the near future.
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft Defender will now automatically break the attack chain in Exchange Server exploits
by Usama Jawad
For the past couple of weeks, news about on-premises Exchange Servers being under attack from state-sponsored groups as well as other malicious actors have been making the rounds. Since then, Microsoft has released multiple patches, tools, and guidance to aid customers in protecting their server instances. Now, the firm is enabling Microsoft Defender Antivirus to automatically mitigate some of these vulnerabilities.
Customers who have Microsoft Defender Antivirus build 1.333.747.0 or later installed do not have to do anything, but they will automatically be protected against CVE-2021-26855 on Exchange server instances where they are deployed. As explained by Microsoft earlier this month, this particular vulnerability is a "server-side request forgery (SSRF) vulnerability in Exchange which allowed the attacker to send arbitrary HTTP requests and authenticate as the Exchange server".
That said, Microsoft has emphasized that the optimal method to secure yourself against the recent exploits is still to install the patches that the company has issued. This is just a temporary workaround which breaks the attack chain so customers can protect themselves partially as they apply cumulative updates.
The firm has also highlighted that the automatic mitigation will be deployed once per machine and that customers who don't have Defender Antivirus installed should instead use the one-click mitigation tool. It is important to note that Exchange Online is not affected by these vulnerabilities and exploits.
By Usama Jawad96
On-premises Exchange servers are under attack from a state-sponsored group
by Usama Jawad
Microsoft has announced that on-premises Exchange servers are under attack likely from a state-sponsored group operating from China. The group is named "HAFNIUM" and is using multiple 0-day exploits to access on-premises Exchange Server instances, which essentially gives access to the email account of victims as well. The malicious actors install additional malware which acts as a backdoor for future attacks as well.
Microsoft has patched all the vulnerabilities with CVE-2021-26855, CVE-2021-26857, CVE-2021-26858, and CVE-2021-27065, and has recommended that customers update their on-premises systems on an urgent basis. It has noted that Exchange Online is not affected by these attacks.
The Redmond tech giant says that the attack methodology is extremely similar to previous attacks by the HAFNIUM group, which have usually targeted multiple government and private entities in the United States. The details of the vulnerabilities that this group exploited in its latest attack can be seen below:
Microsoft claims that after exploiting the aforementioned vulnerabilities, the malicious actors were able to install web shells on the server, which allowed them to steal data such as offline address books for Exchange which contain information about a business and its users. They also performed certain activities to allow further malicious actions in the future.
In its "Can I determine if I have been compromised by this activity?" section, Microsoft has also outlined several indicators of compromise (IOCs) available in the logs, and hashes, paths, and names of web shells used in the attack. For remediation, it has recommended the use of Azure Sentinel and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint to detect malicious activities. All on-premises Exchange Server instances and systems need to be updated with the latest patches immediately, as per Microsoft.
Google Pixel phones can take underwater pictures with a new feature drop
by João Carrasqueira
It's that time again - a new feature drop is making its way to Google's Pixel devices, and it delivers a handful of improvements to different aspects of the smartphone experience.
First, there's a new integration for the Camera app, which makes it possible to use the phone underwater. Used together with an underwater smartphone housing from Kraken Sports, Pixel devices can now give users access to features like Night Sight, Portrait Mode, and Google's image processing to capture better-looking images underwater.
If you're not into diving, the Recorder app also has a new update, which lets users share their recordings as links, which can then be accessed on any device. Not only can the audio file be accessed anywhere, but transcripts of the recording can also be viewed and searched in languages that support them - which is to say, English. The web version of the Recorder app can be found here.
Google is also rolling out Smart Compose as part of the Gboard app, which works similarly to how it does on Gmail, except you can now use it across different apps. As you type, your phone can suggest words to finish your sentence or even a conversation starter. The feature is only available in English and only in the U.S.
If you use the bedtime feature that Google has been pushing over the past year and you also have a Pixel Stand, there's now a new bedtime screen with redesigned notifications. Google says this will help you ease you into sleep, but you can only access it on Pixel devices with wireless charging - the Pixel 3, 3 XL, 4, 4 XL, and 5.
Finally, the update includes a few new wallpapers, which were designed by a Spanish duo called Cachetejack and focus on the celebration of International Women's Day on March 8.