AuthorGregg Keizer

Why Windows 7 updates are getting bigger

Windows 7's security rollups, the most comprehensive of the fixes it pushes out each Patch Tuesday, have doubled in size since Microsoft revamped the veteran operating system's update regimen in 2016.

According to Microsoft's own data, what it calls the "Security Quality Monthly Rollup" (rollup from here on) grew by more than 90% from the first to the twenty-first update. From its October 2016 inception, the x86 version of the update increased from 72MB to 137.5MB, a 91% jump. Meanwhile, the always-larger 64-bit version went from an initial 119.4MB to 227.5MB, also representing a 91% increase.

The swelling security updates were not, in themselves, a surprise. Last year, when Microsoft announced huge changes to how it services Windows 7, it admitted that rollups would put on the pounds. "The Rollups will start out small, but we expect that these will grow over time," Nathan Mercer, a Microsoft product marketing manager, said at the time. Mercer's explanation: "A Monthly Rollup in October will include all updates for October, while November will include October and November updates, and so on."

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Why Windows 7 updates are getting bigger

Windows 7's security rollups, the most comprehensive of the fixes it pushes out each Patch Tuesday, have doubled in size since Microsoft revamped the veteran operating system's update regimen in 2016.

According to Microsoft's own data, what it calls the "Security Quality Monthly Rollup" (rollup from here on) grew by more than 90% from the first to the twenty-first update. From its October 2016 inception, the x86 version of the update increased from 72MB to 137.5MB, a 91% jump. Meanwhile, the always-larger 64-bit version went from an initial 119.4MB to 227.5MB, also representing a 91% increase.

The swelling security updates were not, in themselves, a surprise. Last year, when Microsoft announced huge changes to how it services Windows 7, it admitted that rollups would put on the pounds. "The Rollups will start out small, but we expect that these will grow over time," Nathan Mercer, a Microsoft product marketing manager, said at the time. Mercer's explanation: "A Monthly Rollup in October will include all updates for October, while November will include October and November updates, and so on."

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Google flips switch on Chrome’s newest defensive technology

Google has switched on a defensive technology in Chrome that will make it much more difficult for Spectra-like attacks to steal information such as log-on credentials.

Called "Site Isolation," the new security technology has a decade-long history. But most recently it's been cited as a shield to guard against threats posed by Spectre, the processor vulnerability sniffed out by Google's own engineers more than year ago. Google unveiled Site Isolation in late 2017 within Chrome 63, making it an option for enterprise IT staff members, who could customize the defense to shield workers from threats harbored on external sites. Company administrators could use Windows GPOs - Group Policy Objects - as well as command-line flags prior to wider deployment via group policies.

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Apple pushes privacy theme in Safari for iOS 12, ‘Mojave’

Apple upgrades its Safari browser on macOS and iOS just once a year, making the refresh more strategic than most of its rivals, notably Google, which last year had eight separate opportunities to add features or functionality to Chrome.

The next Safari, which will be bundled with macOS 10.14 'Mojave' and iOS 12, and offered as a separate download for those who stick with macOS High Sierra (10.13) and Sierra (10.12), thus must make its enhancements count.

On the security and privacy side, Safari tries its hardest to build a case. Here are the important ways Apple's browser - which shed user share on both the desktop and on mobile over the past year - has staked its reputation for the next 12 months.

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How your web browser tells you when it’s safe

Google last week spelled out the schedule it will use to reverse years of advice from security experts when browsing the Web - to "look for the padlock." Starting in July, the search giant will mark insecure URLs in its market-dominant Chrome, not those that already are secure. Google's goal? Pressure all website owners to adopt digital certificates and encrypt the traffic of all their pages.

The decision to tag HTTP sites - those not locked down with a certificate and which don't encrypt server-to-browser and browser-to-server communications - rather than label the safer HTTPS websites, didn't come out of nowhere. Google has been promising as much since 2014.

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Google details how it will overturn encryption signals in Chrome

Google has further fleshed out plans to upend the historical approach browsers have taken to warn users of insecure websites, spelling out more gradual steps the company will take with Chrome this year.

Starting in September, Google will stop marking plain-vanilla HTTP sites - those not secured with a digital certificate, and which don't encrypt traffic between browser and site servers - as secure in Chrome's address bar. The following month, Chrome will tag HTTP pages with a red "Not Secure" marker when users enter any kind of data.

Eventually, Google will have Chrome label every HTTP website as, in its words, "affirmatively non-secure." By doing so, Chrome will have completed a 180-degree turn from browsers' original signage - marking secure HTTPS sites, usually with a padlock icon of some shade, to indicate encryption and a digital certificate - to labeling only those pages that are insecure.

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FAQ: How Edge’s Application Guard and isolated browsing work

Microsoft two weeks ago quietly added a security feature to Windows 10 Pro that initially was available only in the operating system's most expensive edition.

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(Insider Story)