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Researchers at Websense, a San Diego-based company specializing in computer security software, have reported that Microsoft's error and crash reporting system for Windows is "_prone to hacking_" – allowing attackers to use "_unencrypted data_" as an opportunity to "refine and pinpoint their attacks, "according to a recent article published by Zee News India.

Alex Watson, director of threat research at Websense, was reported in the article to say that the collected information would give the hacker "significant advantage and give them a blueprint of the targeted network." In the article, Watson explains further by saying that "Microsoft does not encrypt the initial crash reports." According to the article, these include two types of Microsoft crash prompts: (1) reports that prompt the user before they're sent, and (2) reports that do not where the data is sent to Microsoft's servers "_in the clear_, "or over standard HTTP connections.

The article indicates that these error reports contain a "_wealth of information on the specific PC_" which can be used to access the user's private entrances. As the article explains by an example, if an iPhone user connects their phone to "_sync with iTunes_" this prompts the generation of an "automatic report," which is then sent directly to Microsoft. This report contains the "identifier and manufacturer" of the device. The article indicates, "_the Windows version, the maker and model of the PC and other data._" According to the article, Websense discovered that "_unencrypted information fed to Microsoft by the initial and lowest-level reports, labeled 'Stage 1' report, comprise a dangerous leak._"

In an added note, according to the article, other reports indicate that the National Security Agency (NSA) "_collected Windows crash reports from its global wiretaps to monitor details of targeted PCs_" – as revealed recently by Der Spiegel, the German news magazine.

Read more about this vulnerability and the researcher's thoughts on how Microsoft should respond here at the full article at Zee News India.

Written by Bryon Turcotte  /  January 8, 2014

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