Windows has a printer vulnerability that hackers are actively exploiting. Microsoft has updated its documentation regarding the “PrintNightmare” vulnerability that affects Windows computers around the world. The company now officially says it’s aware of the issue, which includes cases where the Windows Print Spooler service could perform privileged file operations and allow hackers to break into your device.
While it’s unclear whether all versions of Windows are affected by this vulnerability, Microsoft says the vulnerable print spooler code is in all versions of Windows. A print spooler is a software tool in Windows that generally handles print jobs. In particular, hackers can use this code to run arbitrary code with system privileges.
This can then be used to install programs, view, modify or delete data, or create new accounts with full user rights. Microsoft’s documentation makes it clear that the vulnerability has been actively exploited. That means it’s in active use by hackers.
As a result, Microsoft is investigating whether this vulnerability can be exploited in all versions of Windows. If you’re worried, Microsoft encourages interested users to follow a support page for updates and news. In addition, the company states that the vulnerability appeared before this month’s June 2021 security update. It’s unclear if the update will fix this vulnerability, but still, it would be best to install the June 8 security updates to be safe.
Alternative and workarounds to Windows printing vulnerability
Still, there are some workarounds for this issue, but most of them are dependent on system administrators’ activation. The first workaround is to disable the print spooler service using Powershell. However, this may result in disabling the ability to print from the computer as well as over the network.
A second temporary fix involves using Group Policy to disable remote printing, which will actually prevent the “remote” aspect of the vulnerability by blocking incoming remote printing. The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency also recommends following these steps.
It is not uncommon for hackers to target printers and the print service in Windows. In 2018, hackers were able to use old-style printers to invade home networks. For example, in late 2018, supporters of PewDiePie hacked printers to send messages of support to the producer after the YouTube producer’s battle with another YouTube channel, T-Series.