Microsoft Announces Plans to Add DNS Over HTTPS to Windows

Nice to see Microsoft join the DNS Over HTTPS crowd.

Here in Windows Core Networking, we’re interested in keeping your traffic as private as possible, as well as fast and reliable. While there are many ways we can and do approach user privacy on the wire, today we’d like to talk about encrypted DNS. Why? Basically, because supporting encrypted DNS queries in Windows will close one of the last remaining plain-text domain name transmissions in common web traffic.

Providing encrypted DNS support without breaking existing Windows device admin configuration won’t be easy. However, at Microsoft we believe that “we have to treat privacy as a human right. We have to have end-to-end cybersecurity built into technology.”

We also believe Windows adoption of encrypted DNS will help make the overall Internet ecosystem healthier. There is an assumption by many that DNS encryption requires DNS centralization. This is only true if encrypted DNS adoption isn’t universal. To keep the DNS decentralized, it will be important for client operating systems (such as Windows) and Internet service providers alike to widely adopt encrypted DNS.

Black Hat Presentation – Bypassing Local Windows Authentication to Defeat Full Disk Encryption

Ian Haken makes a fascinating presentation of his research on bypassing Bitlocker on a Windows machine if you have physical access to the machine you’re trying to crack into. Especially interesting is the point Haken makes at the end that this particular attack worked (Microsoft has since fixed this particular issue)  because of assumptions about the security model that Microsoft made years ago that are no longer true–but those assumptions are instantiated in the way that various parts of Windows authentication works.

 

Xbox One Sign Out Trolling

The Xbox One Sign Out troll pretty much nails everything wrong with voice control in the way that Microsoft has implemented it with its Xbox Kinect. The troll sets his Xbox username to “Xbox Sign Out”, then tricks people into saying his name which will then bring up the Xbox Sign Out screen for that user.

The Kinect on the Xbox 360 has this problem in spades. If I’m watching Netflix and my daughter says something like “I hope they stop him him in time,” the idiot Kinect complies by stopping the video.

In fact, there’s a whole host of words that you can’t say around the Xbox, including words that might sound like a control word. We’ve managed to inadvertently interrupt our Netflix viewing by saying pop, pencil, claws, and similar words that sound close enough to stop, cancel and pause to the Kinect.

Xbox Live Hoaxes

Microsoft is warning people about a hoax that promises people free Xbox Live points if they call up Microsoft and wish the company a happy birthday—the company was founded on April 4, 1975.

Of course there’s a much more common hoax involving Xbox Live. In this hoax, unscrupulous retailers in cahoots with a company with a history of legal problems attempts to sell Xbox owners a completely useless service, claiming it will enhance their Xbox experience.

Typically, the scammers call this service Xbox Live Gold. Often it will come sold even in supermarkets (presumably unaware that Xbox Live Gold’s services are a hoax) on scratch-off cards that look like this.

Xbox Live Gold

It is a shame that Microsoft doesn’t do more to alert consumers that Xbox Live Gold is just another ripoff too.

Microsoft’s Problems In A Single Steve Ballmer Quote

AllThingsD highlights an interview with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in which Ballmer says,

I don’t think anybody has done a product that is the product that I see customers wanting. You can go through the products from all those guys … and none of them has a product that you can really use. Not Apple. Not Google. Not Amazon. Nobody has a product that lets you work and play that can be your tablet and your PC. Not at any price point.

This is Microsoft’s problem in a nutshell. Ballmer thinks everyone wants their tablet to act like a laptop or desktop, and—if Windows 8’s Metro is any guide—their laptop or desktop to work like a tablet.

But not everything has to be a Swiss Army Knife. I don’t expect or want my $400 tablet to do everything my $1500 laptop does. Microsoft doesn’t seem to get it that the Apple, and to a lesser extent Android, succeeded where Microsoft failed in its Tablet PC efforts.

As one of the commenters on the AllThingsD story put it, Ballmer is complaining here that nobody is making refrigerators with built-in toasters. Yes. And, of course, there’s a reason for that.