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Windows 10 Security Flaw Discovered; Millions of Devices at Risk

What Happened

On January 14, Microsoft issued a statement acknowledging a crucial security flaw within its Windows 10 operating systems. Reported by the National Security Agency (NSA), the security flaw is a failure in the Windows 10 CryptoAPI service. This flaw affects both Windows 10 and Windows Server Update systems.

The API allows developers to sign their programs digitally. This shows that the program comes from an accredited source and is free from tampering. The vulnerability would allow for hackers to easily spoof digital signatures. This lets their websites and software appear legitimate to Microsoft authentication checks, creating a breach of trust.

Source: Windows Server Update Services at SoftwareReviews, Report Published April 2019

Why it Matters

A bug in Microsoft’s core computing processes is concerning. The API should not allow the altering of digital signatures. As a result, executable programs that are downloaded under the pretense of being a normal update may be used to Trojan in harmful software. “This is a core, low-level piece of the Windows operating system and one that establishes trust between administrators, regular users, and other computers on both the local network and the internet,” says Kenn White, security principal at MongoDB. Kenn furthered this by stating, “If the technology that ensures that trust is vulnerable, there could be catastrophic consequences.”

Our Take

Windows 10 is the most commonly deployed desktop operating system in use today. This security flaw affects any device that operates using Windows 10 or one of the Windows server systems. This includes devices operated by the government, small and large businesses, healthcare providers, and core infrastructure. The API flaw in Windows 10 has the potential to affect millions of people worldwide. We’ve seen the use of this type of spoofing before in the Stuxnet virus to disastrous effect. Microsoft has developed an emergency patch for download to prevent the abuse of its security flaws. It’s recommended that any users of either Windows 10 or Windows Server Update Service update their devices immediately to the latest patch.

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