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Open-source developers who use Github are in the cross-hairs of advanced malware that can steal passwords, download sensitive files, take screenshots, and self-destruct when necessary.

Dimnie, as the reconnaissance and espionage trojan is known, has largely flown under the radar for the past three years. It mostly targeted Russians until early this year, when a new campaign took aim at multiple owners of Github repositories. One commenter in this thread reported the initial infection e-mail was sent to an address that was used solely for Github, and researchers with Palo Alto Networks, the firm that reported the campaign on Tuesday, told Ars they have no evidence it targeted anyone other than Github developers.

“Both messages appearing to be hand-crafted, and the reference to today’s data in the attachment file name IMHO hint at a focused campaign explicitly targeting targets perceived as ‘high return investments,’ such as developers (possibly working on popular/open-source projects,)” someone who received two separate infection e-mails reported in the thread.

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Gordon Moore’s original graph, showing projected transistor counts, long before the term “Moore’s law” was coined. Moore’s original observation was that transistor density doubled every year; in 1975, this was revised to doubling every two years. (credit: Intel)

Intel took half a day this week to talk about processor manufacturing technology. The company still believes in Moore’s Law and says the principle will continue to guide and shape the microchip industry. But the way the law works is changing. The company also wants to change how people talk about manufacturing processes, because current terminology—wherein the node size is used to characterize a particular process—no longer serves as a good guide to how many transistors can be packed into a chip.

Moore’s Law—the observation by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit would double every two years, and correspondingly, the cost per transistor would halve over the same time frame—guided microchip manufacturing for around three decades. During that period, process node shrinks, each one bringing a doubling of the number of transistors by making everything 0.7 times smaller, were all it took to fulfill Moore’s Law. Backed by this easy scaling, computer performance increased at a rate unrivaled by any other human technological innovation.

This scaling started to falter in the 2000s when it became increasingly difficult to shrink integrated circuits simply by switching to a smaller process node. But this didn’t bring about an end to Moore’s Law; instead, the industry used additional techniques, such as strained silicon, high-κ metal gates, and FinFETs. The doubling of transistor density or halving of transistor cost continued to take place every two or so years.

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Enlarge / The announcement of the Creators Update in October 2016.

The next big update to Windows 10 is nearly upon us: Windows 10 version 1703, known as the Creators Update, will be published to Windows Update next Patch Tuesday, on April 11th.

The final build is—probably—15063. That build is already available to insiders and should soon become available for the Windows 10 Media Creation tool, but we also know that there are going to be some patches materializing some time between now and when that happens. There’s a small chance those patches will bump the build number; more likely, they will instead bump the patch number, which is currently a pristine and perfect 0 on the desktop. The mobile build has already been bumped to 15063.2 to handle an installation problem when upgrading from version 1607.

Version 1703 has been branded the “Creators Update” (without an apostrophe). Frankly, this made more sense in the context of its grand unveiling than it does now; when the Creators Update was revealed, Microsoft also introduced its new Surface Studio desktop computer, and promised that a range of affordable virtual reality headsets would be developed for Windows 10. With the Surface Studio being a machine unambiguously designed for digital artists, and with virtual reality needing a wealth of new 3D applications to truly shine, the “Creators Update” branding was an obvious nod to these new hardware form factors.

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Enlarge / Education Images/UIG via Getty Images. (credit: Getty Images)

The Library of Alexandria was one of the most important libraries of the ancient world. Its vast number of scrolls, collections of works, lecture halls, and meeting rooms were a boon to education. In many ways, the cloud has the potential to have just as revolutionary an effect as the Library of Alexandria—it can liberate education, enabling teachers to be innovative and spontaneous.

Teachers are incorporating cloud tools and content into instruction in ways that change how they interact with students both in and outside the classroom. They are no longer limited to face-to-face instruction or constricted by class schedules. Instead, teachers are using both tools that are imposed by administrators and more ad-hoc resources. For example, algebra teachers can spend more time troubleshooting individual students’ problems by using content like Khan Academy to cover the core material. In other cases, Khan Academy can be used as additional support material.

Mark Miazga, an English and language arts teacher at Baltimore City College High School, is an example of a teacher who’s taking the more ad-hoc approach. Miazga, who also mentors new teachers and writes curriculum for Baltimore City Public Schools, was featured with his English I class in the documentary Experiencing Shakespeare, produced by the Folger Shakespeare Library. Miazga regularly uses Folger’s resources, including Hamnet, Folger’s online catalog plays by Shakespeare and other eminent playwrights, and an image repository called Luna.

However, Miazga said the largest role that the cloud has played in his teaching has been in shaping his students’ writing process. “Most essays in our classes are turned in electronically via Google Docs,” he explained. “Students share their essays with a peer or their teacher, and we offer live comments. The student can then resolve the comment and make the changes.”

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(credit: Wikimedia)

Developers of the widely used LastPass password manager are scrambling to fix a serious vulnerability that makes it possible for malicious websites to steal user passcodes and in some cases execute malicious code on computers running the program.

The flaw, which affects the latest version of the LastPass browser extension, was briefly described on Saturday by Tavis Ormandy, a researcher with Google’s Project Zero vulnerability reporting team. When people have the LastPass binary running, the vulnerability allows malicious websites to execute code of their choice. Even when the binary isn’t present, the flaw can be exploited in a way that lets malicious sites steal passwords from the protected LastPass vault. Ormandy said he developed a proof-of-concept exploit and sent it to LastPass officials. Developers now have three months to patch the hole before Project Zero discloses technical details.

“It will take a long time to fix this properly,” Ormandy said. “It’s a major architectural problem. They have 90 days, no need to scramble!”

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Enlarge / The upgrade arc of Windows 10. It now has more than 400 million users, regardless of problems. (credit: Microsoft)

Unhappy Windows 10 users in Illinois are taking Microsoft to court, claiming that problems caused by the Windows 10 upgrade show that it was negligently designed, that Microsoft fraudulently failed to disclose its defects, and that the upgrade is unfit for purpose.

In a break from tradition, Microsoft offered Windows 10 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and 8.1 for the first year of its release. This unusual offer was matched with a set of increasingly aggressive promotions within Windows itself. In the early days of the upgrade offer, there were even some users reporting that it installed automatically.

Three plaintiffs claim specific harm was caused by the operating system. Stephanie Watson claims that Windows 10 installed without her choosing to accept it. The upgrade destroyed some data, caused such harm that Geek Squad was unable to fully repair the machine, and forced the purchase of a new system.The suit claims that “many” consumers have had their hard drives fail because of the Windows 10 installation, and that the operating system does not check “whether or not the hard drive can withstand the stress of the Windows 10 installation.”

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On March 25, security researcher Kevin Beaumont discovered something very unfortunate on Docs.com, Microsoft’s free document-sharing site tied to the company’s Office 365 service: its homepage had a search bar. That in itself would not have been a problem if Office 2016 and Office 365 users were aware that the documents they were posting were being shared publicly.

Unfortunately, hundreds of them weren’t. As described in a Microsoft support document, “with Docs.com, you can create an online portfolio of your expertise, discover, download, or bookmark works from other authors, and build your brand with built-in SEO, analytics, and email and social sharing.” But many users used Docs.com to either share documents within their organizations or to pass them to people outside their organizations—unaware that the data was being indexed by search engines.

You can probably see where I’m going with this and https://t.co/3TC07CB8gE. pic.twitter.com/zCJAcNNx3a

— Kevin Beaumont (@GossiTheDog) March 25, 2017

Within a few hours, Beaumont, a number of other researchers, and Ars found a significant number of documents shared with sensitive information in them—some of them discoverable by just entering “passwords” or “SSN” or “account number.”

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Enlarge / Seth Erdman, center, and his fellow students use Chromebooks while working on a lesson in a third grade class on Friday, January 16, 2015, at Walden Elementary School in Deerfield, Illinois. (Anthony Souffle) (credit: Chicago Tribune / Contributor)

When you think about a traditional school workflow, it’s not unlike that of a business: paper is generated and moved in a systematic way between the children and the teacher. Just as cloud computing has transformed workflows in business to make them more collaborative and mobile, that same type of change has been coming to schools. Children and teachers use the power of the cloud to collaborate while accessing, storing, and sharing content.

As with business, this change is ongoing, uneven, and by no means complete. But if schools are at least partly about preparing children for the next generation of work, then the cloud needs to be a part of that preparation. Just as some businesses have struggled to transition to the cloud, schools face similar challenges. But because schools involve a specific demographic—children from a variety of abilities and socioeconomic and linguistic backgrounds—their challenges can be even more complicated.

Slowly but surely, in spite of the issues, cloud tools are coming to the classroom. As more companies, large and small, help schools bring about this transition in a way that makes sense for teachers and children in a classroom context, we are seeing a shift to the cloud and all the advantages (and problems) that brings.

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Enlarge / President Donald Trump and Charter CEO Tom Rutledge. (credit: White House)

Charter CEO Tom Rutledge met with President Donald Trump today, and he made a splashy promise to “invest $25 billion in broadband infrastructure and technology in the next four years.”

But Charter, the second biggest US cable company after Comcast, was already planning broadband expansions during the Obama administration. When Charter purchased Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks 10 months ago, it agreed to a merger condition requiring it to bring 60Mbps download speeds to an additional two million customer locations.

The spending Charter promised Trump today won’t guarantee broadband access for any additional customers beyond what the company already committed to during the Obama years.

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(credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft’s embrace of open source software continues, with Azure Service Fabric making the first tentative foray into the open world. Today, the SDK was (mostly) published to GitHub under the MIT license. The team behind the move described it as the “beginning stages” of a wider use of open source.

Service Fabric, first revealed in 2015, grew out of the infrastructure Microsoft developed to build and run large-scale cloud services, including Azure SQL, Cortana, and Skype for Business. It provides scaling and fault tolerance for services, both stateless and stateful, running in containers across clusters of (virtual) machines. It runs in Azure, naturally, but the runtime is also freely downloadable and can be deployed across on-premises Windows systems, or even onto Windows virtual machines in non-Microsoft clouds. A Linux version of the runtime is currently in development, too.

Microsoft has already been using GitHub for tracking feature requests and bugs within Service Fabric. Users of the runtime have expressed a greater interest in the design and features of Service Fabric, and opening up the SDK is seen as the next step in engaging with the community and helping drive the development direction.

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