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Ninja’s Windows Tips And Tricks

9 March 2017


Ninja is back with some more windows tips and tricks…


Using the Edge Browser While Shopping

First I would like to mention that you make sure your data is backed up in some way. Windows 10 will at times make some major updates. One example is the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. I have had reports of lost data and broken/lost applications after having this update take place on computers. One part of this update though may prompt you to do your online shopping using the Edge browser instead. See once you open sites like Best Buy or Target Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, will often give you its 2 cents and offer the use of coupons that it finds automatically. Now that can be very helpful.

I would also like to add in that you can do as Chrome does and add addons or extensions in Edge which also came with the Anniversary update. There are not many just yet that you can install but you may find some useful like AdBlock. You can check out the images to get an idea how to access the shopping suggestions and extensions.

Windows Calendar Update

The taskbar calendar was not so useful before but Microsoft has been hard at work by adding some extra functionality into it. The taskbar calendar is now integrated with Windows 10’s core Calendar so all your dates and events now show. You can click on the events to view or edit them and it will also show your Google events if you have your google email setup in windows 10’s email app. As you can see it is showing my Bizarre Holidays that I have setup in my Google account. This should have been included from day one if you ask me.

Windows Dark Theme

This item here should have also been a part of Windows 10 from day one but Microsoft is learning what its users want. Through the feedback app and forums that Microsoft has setup a lot have requested a way to change from the light theme. the light theme at times makes it hard to distinguish one window from another if you have a lot of windows open. Ever click on the wrong windows trying to get at a certain desired window? Maybe you even minimize or closed the window you wanted by accident. To find the option you goto Settings > Personalization > Colors.

The light theme was so annoying to me at times I changed the theme color manually. I posted on this in my Getting the White Out post while also showing how you can set your colors to update according to your currently set background in the previous Tips and Tricks post. I may have mentioned Dark Mode there too.  🙂 (Yeah I really disliked light theme.)

Windows Audio Sources

Windows 10 volume control has been rather cumbersome if you are an audiophile. Having to change where the audio you want is coming from has always been a task requiring the Control Panel and going into properties of the device in order to change. Now you can change your audio source by clicking on the name of the source. To get to it you look for that speaker icon on the bottom in your taskbar and just click on it. It may show art first only one source but if you look again you will see an arrowhead pointing upward. You just have to click that to open up the other options. What this means is you can switch from your headphones to your speakers to your Roland Aira TR-8 and back again much easier.

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Warning: Windows 10 Update

You are on a project. Doesn’t matter what it is from typing a resume, typing your school report, writing your book, or  creating that life changing presentation. Windows 10 knows but really could care less. Windows 10 will take over, force updates down your throat, and reset on that a$%. Crazy thing though is that once the process has begun, there isn’t much you can do about it except wait. You may have to wait a good while too depending on the circumstances like the speed of your device and the size of the update.

So if you have not saved what you were doing you are pretty much:



It doesn’t look like Microsoft plans to fix this anytime soon and really quite frankly it isn’t really a bug or issue. It’s Windows Update probably making sure your computer is secure. The events that happen due to forced updating though are real unfortunate though. As for these events. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

As you can see, this has become a real problem for people. But you can avoid this from happening to you. The last tweet may make you skeptical but unless you want this to happen to you maybe you should read on.

Take Control of Windows 10 Updates

To start off in order:

1. Click the Start Button
2. Then Click Settings
3. Click on Update & Security
4. Make sure to select Windows Update
Once selected you will see a window like this  ⇒
In the window, you will see the options related to Windows Update. You can do a manual update by clicking Check for updates. You can check your update history. You can also change when Windows will be allowed to perform updates. You do this by clicking Change active hours under the Update setting heading.

5. Once you click Change active hours you will see a pop-up of sorts with a description of the option. Basically you just tell Windows the hours you use your computer the most or when you do not want it to restart on you and perform updates. It looks like this  ⇒

Responses from Microsoft


I was curious if Microsoft ever responded to the myriad of complaints and found a a good number but most just seemed like programmed responses to me. So I will just show you one response that pretty much sums it all up.

Once a machine is upgraded to Windows 10, it will remain current through Windows Update for the supported lifetime of the device, with safety and security, productivity, and entertainment value over time. This is what we mean when we talk about delivering Windows as a service, and it is one of our core inspirations for Windows 10. We’ll keep listening to our customers, improving the experience month after month. Windows 10 is an operating system that will run on a range of devices — from Xbox to PCs, phones to tablets and tiny gadgets — all of which are connected and kept up-to-date by Windows Update. Both enterprises and consumers benefit. The optimum way to ensure our customers are running the best Windows is to get them the latest updates for Windows 10. Delivering Windows 10 as a service means we can offer ongoing security updates, new features and capabilities – we’d like to make sure people can get access to the latest Windows 10 updates as soon as they are available.

So like I mentioned earlier it is not a bug at all but just a feature I guess. Windows Update has always been around so it is just something everyone should be familiar with. The forced updating though is a bit more aggressive than it has been in the past. I have seen people consider switching to Mac over this but it really is a none issue. I am not trying to minimize the scenarios of people losing sensitive data over the updates. What I am saying is that once it happens you should then take action to avoid it from happening again. Google now a days is the tool to use when you have a question you need answers for. There are numerous rantings and complaints about this which get into taking people’s choice away and performing updates while people are asleep but truth is someone will always find an issue with it no matter what approach is taken. Do nothing and Windows is continually labeled as the less secure system giving Apple OS the praises. Now that Windows is moving into a more secure place now people want to complain.

The forced updating of Windows may have been a small miss step but a solution has been offered for  it. You just have to research, google it, Yahoo It, and Bing It. Or you can just visit Ninja’s site and ask…   😉

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Windows 10 – Edge Browser is Safer?



Bouncing around the web I ran into a reddit page from a user called “illCodeYouABrain” who while opening Firefox at times receives a message from Windows 10 (image shown link). I thought it was a little interesting but wanted to know for sure or rather what prompted Microsoft to create such a notification.

So apparently Microsoft has enabled a set of ‘Windows Tips’ that lets users who use Firefox and Chrome know that their Edge browser is safer. I do remember some news months ago about Windows 10 warning Chrome and Firefox users about battery drain related to those browsers and recommended using Edge instead.  This notification of course most likely applies to those that have portable Windows 10 devices like tablets and laptops. My first reaction to it was just a simple “okay”.  I can understand already how battery drain can be applied to Chrome and Firefox just from my own personal use of the browsers. Both have more features and having addons in any browser will equate to more battery use depending on the addons you like to use. Microsoft even supposedly performed an experiment to prove it. (video on left) I don’t know how trustworthy this would be and I have a lot of questions on the test itself but either way it would not surprise me for reasons I have mentioned latter.

The notification can at times popup when opening Firefox as well as Chrome; and, if anyone has seen this popup make a comment. Microsoft of course will only respond with rhetoric that coincides with the tone they use in the Windows 10 environment with words like “We want to provide easy information that can help our users enhance their Windows 10 experience.” I will add that you can change the settings for this feature if you open Settings => System => Notifications => Disable “Get tips, tricks and suggestions as you use Windows”

win10tipsdisable

So where does this tip find its merit? Well NSS Labs performed a comparison of the 3 major browsers. Now I know Microsoft in the past has asked them to do studies and Internet Explorer has come out on top but apparently this time Microsoft had not commissioned this study. I have the results and read through them and this is the scoop.

The NSS test results were obtained from live testing where all browsers were subjected to the same set of social malware. “This test comprised 220,918 test cases that included 5,224 unique suspicious samples. Ultimately, 304 samples met NSS validation criteria and were included as part of the test.”

The Edge browser blocked a great 99% of the socially engineered malware (SEM) that was thrown at it. Now this is due to SmartScreen URL Rep and App Rep which are reputation based defenses that protect you from malicious links and downloads. Chrome and Firefox use Google’s Safe Browsing service. Just check the image (right) to see how the the others compared in this test.

There were 2 tests and the next one was in phishing protection, namely the average phishing URL catch rate for browsers over a 12 day period where Edge hit 91.4% while Chrome and Firefox also following closely. (image on left)


Security is important in all browser and Microsoft has been on the ball as far as security in concerned. It seems Edge is pretty secure. Now will these result make you want to switch? Idk. Mozilla and Google have a good history of keeping their users safe. Now Edge is a Windows 10 only browser while Firefox and Chrome are available on PC, Mac, and Linux. Edge having less features and being less compatible being addon-less will of course make it more secure just on that point alone but I see changes little by little as Microsoft aspires to add more to the Edge browser. Overall??? Nothing beats user knowledge. The NSS report itself says this

“Users who are able to identify social engineering attacks rely less on technology for protection against such attacks. Technology will sometimes fail, but those users who can identify social engineering attacks will remain protected, regardless of the method used to attempt social engineering.”

which is something I always tell my own clients anyways.

If you wish to view some of the other data from the NSS report you can just continue reading. Whatever your browser of choice is just remember what was just said and know that YOU are the best protection against threats.


Other Tests Performed

There were other tests between the two categories of SEM and Phishing which I will show below.

SEM

Socially Engineered Malware



New threats are always an issue and will continue to be and so how fast your browser can respond to new threats is also important. This image shows how long it took for each browser to block a threat once it was introduced. The cumulative protection rates were calculated each day until the threats were blocked. “During the test, Microsoft Edge demonstrated a 98.7% zero-hour protection rate for malware. Microsoft Edge blocked 5.9% more malware than Google Chrome and 20.4% more malware than Mozilla Firefox. By the end of the seventh day of testing, Microsoft Edge was maintaining a 3.6% lead over Google Chrome and a 17.4% lead over Mozilla Firefox.”

fig2-zerohoursem



“Figure 3 depicts the average time to block SEM samples for each browser.”

fig3-avgtime2blocksem

“Microsoft Edge required an average of less than ten minutes to block new SEM. At more than two hours and 39 minutes, Google Chrome had the next best average time to block. Mozilla Firefox took longer than three hours and 45 minutes to block malware.”



“Figure 4 compares the use of Google Safe Browsing API vs Microsoft SmartScreen.”

“Microsoft has invested significantly in its SmartScreen technology, which has constantly provided superior
protection for its users over time. When Google Safe Browsing API was first rolled out, it only offered protection against drive-by downloads and phishing sites. In response to the increase in socially engineered malware, Google added protection against SEM, which improved its block rate over previous NSS browser tests.”



“Throughout the test, new URLs hosting SEM were added, and URLs that were either no longer reachable or no longer delivering SEM, were removed. Figure 5 shows the consistency of protection of the tested browsers throughout the testing period.”

“Microsoft Edge had an average block rate of 99.0%; with its lowest recorded at 98.0%. Google Chrome had an average block rate of 85.8%; its lowest recorded at 50.0%. Mozilla Firefox had an average block rate of 78.3%, which was noticeably different than the 38.9% block rate it demonstrated at the beginning of the test.”

Phishing Malware

Masquerading as a legit entity to obtain sensitive info.



Equivalent data when referencing phishing attacks…

“Figure 2 depicts how long it took the browsers to block a threat once it was introduced into the test cycle. Cumulative protection rates are listed at the time of introduction, i.e., the “zero hour,” through the end of the test. Final protection scores for the duration of the URL test are summarized under the “Total” column.

fig2-avgtimeblockphishing

“Initial protection from phishing sites ranged from 82.7% for Google Chrome to 92.1% for Microsoft Edge. Since both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox rely on the Google Safe Browsing API, their protection is almost identical.”



“Figure 3 answers the question of how long a user must wait on average until a requested phishing URL is added to a block list. It shows the average time to block a phishing site once it was introduced into the test set, but only if it was blocked during the the test. Unblocked sites are not included,…”

“The average time to block a site (if it is blocked at all) is 56.4 minutes. Microsoft Edge was significantly faster at adding protection in the earliest hours of a phishing attack than any of the other browsers. Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox took more than one hour on average to block new phishing websites.”



Daily users visit a wide range of sites that change from time to time thus phishing links also evolve along with it and keeping the phishing links blocked is key. NSS tested some live hyperlinks every six hours. The percentages will be different from the link results because this test entails multiple tests of a link. So if a link is blocked early on this will  improve the score while links missed continually will lower the score.

“Figure 4 shows protection at each of the 44 incremental tests of over a period of 12 days, and each score represents protection at a given point in time.”

“Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox use the Google Safe Browsing API. The mean detection rates for these browsers is very close; however, Chrome lags behind Firefox in early protection.”

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