How to Fix Windows 10’s New Critical Security Flaw (March 2020)

A bug logo in a target on the Windows 10 desktop backgroundShutterstock.com/RealVector

Windows 10 has a new security flaw, and it is already exploited in nature. You could get infected with malware just by downloading a file, because File Explorer will automatically open the file and preview. Windows 7 has the same problem.

What would you like to know

Microsoft ad this security breach on March 23, 2020. Microsoft says it is aware of limited targeted attacks that use vulnerabilities in the Adobe Type Manager library. “There are several ways for an attacker to exploit this vulnerability, such as convincing a user to open a specially crafted document or view it in the Windows preview pane,” according to Microsoft’s security advisory.

The flaw affects all versions of Windows in use: Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7 and various versions of Windows Server. (Of course, if you’re using Windows 7 and don’t pay for extended security updates, you will not have a security patch.)

A Microsoft spokesperson said TechCrunch Microsoft is working on a fix and expects it to be available the next Patch Tuesday… i.e. April 14, 2020.

Until then, Microsoft offers a workaround that will protect your PCs from security breaches.

How to protect your PC

To work around this flaw, simply deactivate the Preview and Details panes in File Explorer (or Windows Explorer on older versions of Windows). Windows will not automatically display previews of OTF font files, which will protect you.

You could still be attacked if you open a malicious file. However, simply viewing the file in File Explorer poses no risk.

To do this, open File Explorer and click on the “View” tab at the top of the window.

Make sure that the “Preview pane” and “Details pane” options in the Shutters section are disabled. Click on them to activate or deactivate them.

Then click on the “Options” icon on the right of the ribbon bar. If a menu appears, click “Change folder and search options”.

Opening the Folder Options window from File Explorer on Windows 10

Click on the “Display” tab. In the “Advanced settings” box, activate the option “Always display icons, never thumbnails”.

You have finished. Click the “OK” button to save your changes. Close all open Windows Explorer windows (or restart your computer) to make sure your changes take effect.

Configuring file explorer to always display icons and never thumbnails

In Windows 7, you will need to change these same options. They are located in a slightly different location in Windows Explorer.

First, click Organize> Layout and use the menu options to turn off the Details pane and the Preview pane.

Second, click Organize> Folder and Search Options in Windows Explorer to open the options window. Activate the option “Always display icons, never thumbnails” in the same place.

Opening folder and search options in Windows 10

This change will only be necessary until Microsoft releases a security update that fixes the problem. After the creation of the company, you can reactivate the overviews. (However, on Windows 7 without security updates, you will probably want to leave it permanently disabled.)

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