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Microsoft, along with other companies have been in the news surrounding the US National Security Agency (NSA) and general privacy concerns that government agencies have easy access to customer data. Brad Smith, General Counsel & Executive Vice President, Legal & Corporate Affairs at Microsoft, recently published a blog post detailing now is the time for an international convention on government access to data.

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There has been a bit of confusion for Windows XP users (yes, they still exist) over whether or not they would be able to obtain antivirus support after July 2015. Let us take a few moments to talk about what antivirus support you won’t have after the 2015 date, but what might still be available. In addition, take a second to learn why you will still be at risk after this April even if you choose to continue using a third party service's security solution.

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Many people have had their trust shaken by the United States National Security Agency’s involvement with top technology companies around the globe including Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and many more. To this day, many people still feel at least a bit of lost faith towards the aforementioned technology giants and any personal data that they may hold.

The paranoia can be seen in Microsoft’s release of the Xbox One and its Kinect accessory – there was a vocal, but visible, minority that screamed the Kinect could be used by the NSA for spying purposes. But recently, Microsoft has announced major plans to increase encryption techniques on their own internet traffic to keep users more secure.

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Two factor security authentication isn’t a new concept to secure online information and data, but it has never been convenient. I used to play World of Warcraft (Horde FTW), and used Blizzard’s authentication tool to log into my account and keep it secure – there is nothing worse than someone stealing gold you quested all day for.

The Blizzard application for WoW was cumbersome and became an annoyance to constantly use. Before that, I used a physical authenticator keychain to gain access to my PayPal account – an even more painful experience. One company, Adips, believes they have the solution and it’s called Rublon; an easy form of authentication that uses your own Windows Phone to gain access to what you treasure the most.

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InPic, developed by ApplyF, is full featured Instagram client for Windows Phone 8. It falls into the same camp as Instance and 6tag in that it allows users to directly post to the popular photo sharing network. It’s also available as a Windows 8 app, is completely free and it easily has one of the nicest UIs we’ve come across.

Version 1.1 is now live in the Store and with it, brings numerous changes worth revealing. The biggest one is InPic now has the Instagram security requirements enabled, including full logout from the service.

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Nokia has joined forces with the University of Bristol in the UK to develop the first practical way of processing quantum cryptography on a mobile phone. What does this mean with a mini jargon buster? It would essentially enable you to send encrypted messages or data in secrecy. Currently utilised by banks and other organisations who can afford such expensive technology, the work carried out by Bristol University and Nokia could integrate simple client electronics on a single chip - perfect for a mobile phone.

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Do you trust Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8? If you are the Federal Republic of Germany, the answer to that question is "no". Last week internal documents from IT professionals within the government showed a strong rejection of the new operating system calling it "unacceptable for the federal administration and the operators of critical infrastructure".

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Earlier this week we saw the release of the highly anticipated Instagram client for Windows Phone called 6tag. Developed by Rudy Huyn in just a few weeks’ time, the app has skyrocketed to the top of the Windows Phone Store. While the app is not official or endorsed by Instagram, the company signed off on the name as not conflicting with their brand, in addition to looking the other way on the usage of their API.

Now, version 1.0.1.0 has landed in the Store and while it doesn’t bring any new features per se, it does address some security concerns that were raised in an alarmist article. Plus, we can share with you a new trick that will allow you to open 6tag from Internet Explorer 10.

So what are those changes?

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Microsoft has issued an advisory warning concerning a Windows Phone vulnerability when connecting to rogue Wi-Fi networks.

The issue at hand rests in a Wi-Fi authentication scheme (PEAP-MS-CHAPv2) which our Windows Phones use to access protected wireless networks. Cryptographic weaknesses in the technology can allow an attacker to recover a Windows Phone encrypted domain credentials (passwords) when it connects to a rogue access point.

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Microsoft has announced this week that it will be removing Windows Phone apps that the company deems to have critical vulnerabilities. Microsoft notes in a TechNet blog post that developers will be provided 180 days to patch the issues in their app or their work will be pulled from the store, preventing consumers from accessing the app from their smartphones or via the web.

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Microsoft’s security division has been fighting back hackers and botnets for years and now they want you to help out. The company is offering a variety of bounties for finding bugs and security flaws in a variety of software.

Windows 8.1 is the first on a list of bounty programs to launch on June 26th. Microsoft will pay up $100,000 USD to hackers who can showcase “truly novel exploitation techniques”. The company is serious about making sure Windows’ latest revision is released to the public without a hitch.

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Microsoft has been fighting off botnets and hackers for the last few years with Project MARS (Microsoft Active Response for Security). They have crippled major botnet networks including Waledac, Rustock, Kelihos, Zeus, Nitol, and Bamital.

Today, Microsoft plans to take their fight for web justice to the next level using their own cloud resources. The newly designed Windows Azure-based Cyber Threat Intelligence Program (C-TIP) allows computer emergency response teams to respond in near real time. TJ Campana, director of security in Microsoft’s Digital Crime Unit, stated that:

“(C-TIP) will allow organizations to have better situational awareness of cyber threats, and more quickly and efficiently notify people of potential security issues with their computers.”

Last Friday, Microsoft’s Orlando Ayala joined the Secretary of State of Telecommunications and Information Society of Spain to announce an agreement for the Spanish CERT, to become one of the first organizations to hook up with the company’s C-TIP service. The new technology will allow ISPs and CERTs to receive updated threat data every 30 seconds; the data will alert the organizations of any infected computers in their network or domain.

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A rag-tag group of privacy advocates, internet activists, journalists and organizations have banded together and have written an open letter to Skype, calling on the communications giant to "publicly document Skype’s security and privacy practices."

The letter, which is addressed to Skype Division President Tony Bates, Microsoft Chief Privacy Officer Brendon Lynch, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, says that the members of the group who authored it rely on Skype to communicate under circumstances where privacy and security are imperative and that it would be doing them a great service to know just what they can expect.

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LastPass: When you have been on the internet for as long as we have and have as many passwords stored as we do, apps like LastPass get filed under “necessity” for immediate installation. The app has been on Windows Phone for some time but it was always kind of “meh”. That’s our technical lingo for saying it was missing features.

Luckily for us, the app has been bumped to version 1.9 and with a slight redesign and some added new features the app has become very useful for those who have amassed a tome of passwords over the years.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, LastPass (www.lastpass.com) is a service that acts as a password vault for your PC, Mac, Windows Phone…basically every platform out there today. You can use one master password which will allow you to login to the app and you can see everything.

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Tip: How to protect your Wallet in Windows Phone 8

Purchasing apps and games on a Windows Phone is an absolute breeze. Trials are a unique opportunity for developers to allow consumers to download and "try" their work before committing to a purchase. But with the speedy process in purchasing apps from the Store, should there be some level of protection for credit cards that are attached to a Microsoft Account?

Currently, anyone who has access to a Windows Phone that has a Microsoft Account loaded with valid credit cards for transactions can head into the Store and engage in a shopping spree - this isn't a good situation to be in but it can occur with children or other folk who borrow a smartphone for a few minutes. Luckily, Microsoft has a solution for this issue.

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