Microsoft Sends Alert About PDF Documents Hiding Phishing Scams

Today's topics include Microsoft’s warning to email users about new PDF phishing techniques, Pew Research’s finding that the majority of Americans do not trust social media sites or the government to protect their personal data from cyber-threats, Toshiba’s financial decision to spin off its Flash data storage business and Microsoft’s Azure cloud business revenue nearly doubled in its fiscal second quarter.

On the heels of a disturbingly convincing Gmail phishing scam, Microsoft is warning email users of other crafty schemes, this time involving PDF attachments. PDF, short for the Portable Document Format pioneered by Adobe, is a popular method of distributing content online.

Cyber-attackers are banking on its ubiquity, particularly in the workplace, to ensnare office workers. The latest phishing attempts may slip through antivirus software's defenses.

"Unlike in other spam campaigns, the PDF attachments we are seeing in these phishing attacks do not contain malware or exploit code," blogged Alden Pornasdoro, Microsoft Malware Protection Center team member.

Americans have become resigned to the fact that the security of their data is beyond their control.

In a study released on Jan. 26, Pew Research found that 64 percent of Americans have personally experienced a data breach, including fraudulent charges on their credit cards, received notifications that their email or social media accounts have been hacked or warned that their personal information had been exposed.

As a result, 51 percent of U.S. citizens do not trust social media sites to protect their information and 49 percent do not think the government can secure their data.

“People feel that they have lost control of their personal information in a lot of ways in the modern information environment,” Aaron Smith, associate director of Pew Research, told eWEEK.

Toshiba, which invented NAND flash memory in the late 1980s that is now being used in virtually all servers, smartphones and tablet PCs, is being forced to spin off a highly profitable segment of its IT hardware business due to serious problems impacting its financial future.

The Japan-based conglomerate revealed Jan. 27 that its flash memory business will be spun off into another business entity so that it will have "more operational flexibility and stronger fundraising ability," market research firm DRAMeXchange said Jan. 27. The process will be completed by March 31, Toshiba said.

Microsoft has reported strong second quarter fiscal year 2017 earnings, laying to rest any doubts that the software giant could make a successful transition to a cloud computing company.

Azure revenues climbed a whopping 93 percent, or 95 percent. "These results show continued strength in the cloud and especially Azure business," Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst at Forrester, told eWEEK.

"While Microsoft does not break out Azure from the broader Intelligent Cloud category (which also includes some server products, cloud services, and enterprise services), the Azure business nearly doubled year-over-year (as it did last quarter), and usage continues to double year-over-year," continued Bartoletti.

"Basically, Azure is more than twice the size it was at this time last year, and the growth trajectory is consistent," he said.