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Microsoft needs to reconsider what it just did and redesign this

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April 12, 2016

Microsoft just surprised the internet security industry by adding a QR code to its infamous Blue Screen of Death in Windows 10.

Why do we say it's surprising? Because what the company just did could invite hackers to install malware that would most likely go undetected for many users.

As of Windows 10 Insider Preview build 14316, when the operating system falls over (EG: when it freezes), you get not only the ASCII blue smiley face but also a QR Code that contains an encoded URL that leads you to a webpage about your issue.

You then scan the QR Code with any smartphone or other handheld device and your browser will be taken to the embedded URL.

Right now, it just points to windows.com/stopcode, which explains typical Blue-Screen-of-Death causes, but in the near future it could contain detailed information about the crash or something a little more user-friendly than something like MACHINE_CHECK_EXCEPTION.

The QR code in question isn't mentioned in build 14316's release notes, although it hasn't escaped some people's attention. The version was sent last week to beta testers.

So you might think this is a good idea, right? Well think again. We can only imagine the sheer pleasure that malware artists will have with this.

They will now be able to 'fake a system crash' by popping up a simple MS blue screen, show a QR code that links your machine, PC or device to a malicious website, and fool someone into opening it on their browser.

From there you can offer 'junk PC repair software' (your machine just "crashed", after all), pretend to be Microsoft offering updates to fix your PC, get your money and run, etc. etc.

Let's hope that Microsoft's engineers rethink this rapidly. This is an important security vulnerability.

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