Microsoft urges Windows users to immediately install an update after security researchers discovered a serious vulnerability in the operating system.
The security flaw, known as PrintNightmare, affects the Windows Print Spooler service. Researchers at the cyber security company Sangfor accidentally published a guide to exploiting it.
The researchers tweeted in late May that they had found vulnerabilities in Print Spooler, which allows multiple users access to a printer. They mistakenly published a proof-of-concept online and then deleted it – but not before it was published elsewhere online, including the developer site GitHub.
Microsoft warned that hackers exploiting the vulnerability could install programs, view and delete data, or even create new user accounts with full user rights. It gives hackers enough command and control over your PC to do serious damage.
Despite announcing that they would no longer issue updates for Windows 7, Microsoft released a patch for its 12-year operating system, underscoring the severity of the PrintNightmare error. Updates to Windows Server 2016, Windows 10, version 1607, and Windows Server 2012 are expected “soon,” it said.
“We recommend that you install these updates immediately,” the company said.
If there is any good news, it is that the current security update is cumulative, which means that it also includes previous fixes for previous security issues.
This is the latest in a series of security warnings from Microsoft in the last year and a half. The company is involved in security issues, including in 2020, when the National Security Agency warned Microsoft of a major flaw in its Windows operating system that could allow hackers to pose as legitimate software companies. And this year, hundreds of thousands of Exchange users were targeted after four vulnerabilities in its software allowed hackers to access servers for the popular email and calendar service. Microsoft was also the target of a devastating breach of SolarWinds.
In particular, Microsoft has not released a patch for Windows 11. Its latest operating system, which will be released soon, is currently available to beta testers. Windows 11 comes six years after Microsoft last revised its operating system with Windows 10, a major update that now runs on about 1.3 billion devices worldwide, according to CCS Insight.