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The PrintNightmare security flaw: did you update?

Last month, Microsoft issued a fix for a bug called PrintNightmare. This bug allowed hackers to access your computer through your printer, and cause all kinds of havoc once they were in there. We’ve taken a look at PrintNightmare, and why it’s important to update your PC.

What is PrintNightmare?

PrintNightmare is a bug in Windows machines, discovered by a cybersecurity organisation. The company, Sangfor, posted on Twitter in May that they had discovered some bugs in the Print Spooler in Windows machines.

The Print Spooler is the software in Windows machines which manages all of the printing that’s sent to a printer from the PC, or a number of PCs. If you’ve ever clicked the printer to see where your print job is in the queue, you’ll have seen this before; the Print Spooler is the program that makes sure all of your print jobs get sent to the printer.

If you’re using a printer that connects to the internet (and unless your printer plugs into your PC, then you probably are), hackers could exploit this bug remotely, meaning they could find the printer and access your computer regardless of where they are in the world.

Although accessing your computer through your printer might sound limiting, there was actually a huge amount of damage that this bug could do. Hackers were able to install software on a machine (and yes, that includes malware), view or delete data on PCs (such as photos, documents and files) and create new users with admin privileges (essentially allowing them to access whatever they want, whenever they want). 

What happened with PrintNightmare?

The reason that PrintNightmare became such a nightmare for Windows is due to the fact that Sangfor accidentally published a proof-of-concept online for the bug. This was essentially a guide to the bug, and how it could be exploited, which made PrintNightmare a dream come true for hackers.

The post was deleted soon after, however it had already been copied and uploaded to multiple websites in that time, making this a huge security risk for Windows users.

Due to the potential damage that this bug could do, PrintNightmare was a serious concern for Windows. As such, they pushed a series of updates, even going so far to update versions of Windows that are so old they no longer offer support for them.

If you’re running Windows 10 or Windows 7, Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2012, your PC is vulnerable to PrintNightmare.

Why you should update your PC

PrintNightmare is a great example of how important it is to update your PC. If you’ve got automatic updates turned on, you should have already received the patch for PrintNightmare. 

If you’re not sure whether you’ve received the update, head to your Windows Update settings. There, you should be able to check for updates and ensure that you’re up to date.

Updating your PC is incredibly important, because bugs like PrintNightmare are being discovered all the time. Automatic updates can be annoying, but they protect your PC from attacks and ensure that any security vulnerabilities are patched as soon as possible. Turn them on, and keep your machine safe. 

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