It doesn’t take much to ignite FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) against Microsoft–especially with news of a critical flaw affecting Windows 7. News that a Microsoft update is causing “millions” of PC’s to experience a “black screen of death” is both exaggerated and wrong. Apparently, its much ado about nothing.
Originally reported by security firm Prevx, the black screen of death issue was believed to have been caused by updates issued by Microsoft on the November Patch Tuesday. The combination of a headline like “Black Screen woes could affect millions on Windows 7, Vista and XP” and the fact that Prevx didn’t bother to contact Microsoft about the issue suggest that Prevx was primarily interested in sensational publicity for itself.
Microsoft investigated the issue and determined that its patches are not to blame. Prevx followed up with a post apologizing to Microsoft for the inconvenience, and admitting that the root cause that triggers the black screen of death is, in fact, not related to Microsoft’s patches. The prevailing theory now is that it is related to a malware infection, most likely something from the Daonol family of Trojans.
All FUD aside, there does seem to be an actual black screen of death issue, it just isn’t impacting “millions” of Windows 7, Vista, and XP systems. More like thousands. Maybe hundreds. Here are three tips to help ensure your Windows PC doesn’t become one of the afflicted:
1.Keep It Updated. I have a secret for you–most malware exploits known vulnerabilities for which patches already exist. Sure, there are zero-day vulnerabilities as well, but one of the best defenses against malware of all kinds is to simply ensure that your operating system and the applications you use have all of the latest patches applied.
2.Protect Against Malware. If its true that the black screen of death is caused by some variant of the Daonol family of Trojans, then it makes sense that anti-malware software could protect your PC from it.
There is a vast array of security products for Windows PC’s–both free and commercial. Microsoft offers its anti-malware security software, Microsoft Security Essentials, for free.
3.Run the Fix. While Prevx was mistaken about the Microsoft updates being guilty for causing the black screen of death, it still has a pretty solid reputation as a security vendor and its research into the root cause that triggers the issue seems to be accurate.
Prevx has stated that its fix does not work in all cases, but running the fix has a fair chance of fixing the issues within Windows that have been determined to trigger the black screen of death. Download the Prevx fix and give it a shot.
If you are one of the “millions” already struck down by the black screen of death, downloading and running the Prevx fix can be problematic. Prevx has already thought of that and has provided step-by-step instructions for how to download and run the fix from an affected system.
Tony Bradley tweets as @PCSecurityNews, and can be contacted at his Facebook page