Microsoft warns Windows users of printing vulnerability

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Microsoft may have fixed PrintNightmare in Windows, but for the second time this month, there is yet another printer-themed vulnerability in the wild.

Just detailed is a new vulnerability in the Windows Print Spooler service which could allow hackers to install programs; view, modify or delete data; and create new accounts on your PC.

While this might sound scary, it’s important to note that in order to take advantage of this new vulnerability, hackers will need to execute code on a victimized system. Basically, this means that a hacker would need physical access to your PC. Microsoft mentions this in the support guide for the new vulnerability as CVE-2021-34481.

This is where Microsoft gives the vulnerability a score of 7.8 and a severity of “significant”, which means it is a high security risk. However, Microsoft also mentions that although CVE-2021-34481 has been made public, it has not been exploited – although another note states that exploitation is “more likely.”

Microsoft has not yet indicated when a patch for this new vulnerability will be released. Instead, the company says it is investigating and “developing a security update.” It’s important to note that Microsoft points out that this new issue was not caused by the July 2021 security update, which initially fixed PrintNightmare.

Still worried? There is a temporary workaround for those who might be affected. The workaround is to open Powershell on Windows and determine if the print spooler service is running, then stop and disable the service. The downside to this workaround is that stopping and disabling the Print Spooler service disables the ability to print both locally and remotely.

Microsoft was quick to release a patch for PrintNightmare last time around. This happened within four days of Microsoft discovering the problem. It is not known if a similar fix for this exploit could arrive at the same time. Seeing that the situation is a little less urgent, with hackers needing local access to a PC, it could take a while.

Microsoft credited security researcher Jacob Baines with discovering this issue and reporting it to Microsoft. Baines notes on his Twitter page that he does not think this new vulnerability is a variant of PrintNightmare.

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