06Jun

Tens of thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands — of Windows 10 users are vulnerable to a “wormable bug” so serious it has been given the highest score possible of the Common Vulnerability Scoring System.

Although Microsoft issued a fix for the bug in March, Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an alert warning of the potential risk to systems that have not installed the fix.

Commonly referred to as SMBGhost, the vulnerability in Windows 10 systems was recently shown to be exploitable. That could give hackers complete access to the computer and, because the vulnerability is considered “wormable,” the exploit code can spread throughout a network, infecting all connected Windows 10 systems.

By default, Windows 10 automatically checks and installs updates. Home and small business users should already have the patch installed. You can check by following the directions from Microsoft.

However, estimates of the unprotected PCs range from the tens of thousands into the hundreds of thousands. For these systems, the risk of being successfully attacked and having the exploit spread is what prompted the Homeland Security warning. The agency warned that “Malicious cyber actors are targeting unpatched systems.”

In 2017, a wormable bug lead to the WannaCry ransomware spread, which disrupted businesses, government and transportation, and in the UK forced hospitals to halt activities and even turn patients away. Microsoft had issued a patch for the hacking tools that had been developed and stolen from the National Security Agency, but millions did not install it, leading to the disruption and damages worldwide estimated in the billions.

Photo by Caspar Camille Rubin on Unsplash

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Green Key

Rust Gets a New Home

Rust is being saved.

A consortium of Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Huawei, Mozilla and Google last week launched the Rust Foundation committing $2 million to sustain the organization.

If you’re wondering why anyone would want to do that, you’re obviously not an IT professional or a gamer.

Rust is a programming language so beloved by developers that for years they’ve overwhelmingly rated it ahead of all other languages like Python, Typescript and C# on Stack Overflow’s annual “Most Loved, Most Dreaded” survey.

Despite the thousands of volunteers who contribute to the open-source project, when Mozilla, its sponsor, began laying off staff last year Rust’s future was endangered. Mozilla, best known for its Firefox browser, began developing Rust a decade ago, says Techcrunch, as an alternative to C/C++ to improve Firefox performance.

Since getting a public release in 2015 Rust has been widely adopted by organizations worldwide, including such groups as Dropbox, Postmates and the New Zealand Fire Service.

“Mozilla incubated Rust to build a better Firefox and contribute to a better Internet,” said Bobby Holley, Mozilla and Rust Foundation Board member. “In its new home with the Rust Foundation, Rust will have the room to grow into its own success, while continuing to amplify some of the core values that Mozilla shares with the Rust community.”

In a blog post about the new foundation, its interim executive director Ashley Williams described Rust as a “a barrier-breaking technology — deconstructing previously assumed-immovable tradeoffs and binary oppositions.”

But more than just a programming language, she says, “Rust’s product is the experience of being a Rust developer… One of the most powerful driving forces of the Rust project is the simultaneous belief in the power of systems programming and the commitment to ensuring that such power is wieldable by everyone.”

In its report, Techcrunch said each of the sponsors uses Rust in developing or rebuilding “core aspects of some of their stacks.” Microsoft recently formed a Rust team. Google is funding a project to improve the Apache webserver using Rust.

Photo by Max Duzij

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Green Key

Tech Writers Code In English

There’s a tech job that pays well, is growing fast and is in such demand that it’s taking employers weeks to fill an opening.

And it typically doesn’t require knowing any language besides English.

With the number of devices and applications mushrooming and their capabilities increasing just as rapidly, explaining to users how to make everything work is the job of technical writers. “They’re vital players when the time comes for a company or team to communicate its work to the rest of the world,” writes Nick Kolakowski on the Dice.com blog.

Instruction manuals are how most of us come in contact with the work of technical writers. Some technical writers specialize in writing these consumer focused materials; most write them along with handling other documentation tasks.

It may seem simple enough to describe the features of a new smartphone, but as the Dice article points out, “If the technical writer screws up, it could result in an extremely frustrated customer base — which reflects badly on the company.”

Many technical writers have a broad range of responsibilities that in the tech industry itself may include maintaining internal documentation of software fixes and new features. Often, the technical writer will work directly with an engineering team, becoming involved early in the product cycle to develop the deep understanding they’ll need to clearly explain complex features. This is especially true for those tech writers whose documentation will be used by IT professionals and engineers.

Simon Dew, a technical writer with an international firm that sells a database platform, says he writes for a technical audience because the users are database managers and developers.

It may not be a job requirement to know how to code – though there are writing jobs requiring a computer science background – all writers must be good at asking questions, be detail-oriented, understand technical concepts and write clearly.

Jacklyn Carroll, a technical writer who was an undergraduate English major who went on to earn a Master’s in professional and technical writing, says, “Any tech writer would be able to tell you that our job includes a lot more than just documentation. We have to communicate with people across multiple departments, write for a variety of audiences, and many of us have to understand programming or code at the same level as software developers.”

As a result, starting salaries can be as high as $70,000, according to Dice.com. The average for those writers with up to 2 years’ experience is $60,000. With more experience and skills, technical writers at the top can earn into six figures.

Photo by Andrew Neel

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