If you use windows, you need to protect yourself against a new vulnerability known as “PrintNightmare.” It exists across multiple platforms and, if left unchecked, could lead to dire consequences, such as remote attackers gaining access to your PC and systems.
What Is PrintNightmare?
The Windows print spooler service helps manage the flow of print jobs your OC sends off to a printer or print server. PrintNightmare takes advantage of a weak spot found in the spooler’s security.
While it gains access through the Windows print spooler, it spreads a lot further than that. This exploit could see an attacker gain system-level access to your network once they have access to your computer.
Why It Matters
- PrintNightmare can leave you open to tremendous damage. An attacker who uses it successfully will gain system-level access. They will be able to edit or delete data, install programs, run arbitrary code, or create new users with full privileges. You will be wide open to a ransomware attack.
- You can’t overstate the sheer volume of devices affected by this vulnerability. Every Windows operating system is susceptible to this flaw. As a result, every Windows system out there is an easy target for cybercriminals
- Nearly every business or device relies on the print spooler. Therefore, the idea of simply not using it, as some have suggested, is not workable in the real world.
Which Versions Of Windows Are Affected?
Microsoft has confirmed that most currently supported Windows versions are affected. Those in this bracket include the current version, Windows 10, as well as older versions like Windows 8 or Windows 7.1
What Should You Do?
The first thing you can do is to maintain good cybersecurity protocols when using your system. The best way to avoid Print Nightmare is not to expose your system to it in the first place.
Attackers need a way into your network to exploit PrintNightmare. Unfortunately, the overwhelming way to do this is through email, so it’s essential to remind users of the golden rules in avoiding cyberattacks.
- Do not open attachments from unknown sources.
- Do not click on links unless you know they’re safe.
- Do not give out personal information requested from you in an email or phone call.
Workarounds To Protect Your System
Ideally, you want to be installing the security patch from Microsoft to protect you from PrintNightmare. However, if you can’t do this straight away, there are some actions you can take so you’re not exposed to this flaw.
Microsoft suggests disabling the print spooler. However, as mentioned earlier, this is impractical for most businesses. Another option to mitigate exposure is to only allow access to those users who need to use printing.
Get The Microsoft Patch
Microsoft released a patch on July 6 and July 7, 2021, that will protect your system against PrintNightmare. If you have not installed this yet, you must do so as soon as you can.
Microsoft releases system updates 2-4 times per month. So if you’re using Windows 10 and have your PC set to update automatically, rebooting your computer will result in installing the patch, as your Windows updates to the current version. If you want to enable automatic updates, visit the Microsoft site to find the Windows 10 Update Assistant.
Some people turn off the automatic Microsoft updates, and they may not be available on some older versions of Windows. However, given the importance of protecting yourself from PrintNightmare, it is essential to install the patch on your system.
To find all security updates for Windows systems and information on the vulnerabilities they fix, visit the Microsoft Update Guide on the Microsoft website.
If You Need Help
Today, your IT system is a critical tool in your business. In many respects, it may very well be your whole business. New threats are constantly evolving, and solutions can seem overwhelming. With so much on the line, it is highly advisable to reach out for professional help.
Skyline IT can provide you with San Diego IT support or San Diego Cybersecurity assistance. Contact us to make sure you are secure from cyberattacks.