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Windows PC makers hang customers out to dry with flawed crapware updaters

Gregg Keizer | June 6, 2016
Investigation finds Windows OEMs guilty of 'egregious' omissions in basic security.

Duo found security flaws in every one of the updaters it looked at, and with the lack of encryption and manifest signing, judged exploiting those vulnerabilities as trivial, or in the words the company used in a supporting blog post written by Kemp, "The level of sophistication required to exploit most of the vulnerabilities we found is somewhere between that possessed by a coffee stain on the Duo lunch room floor and your average potted plant."

Manzuik's and Kemp's best advice for buyers of new crapware-infested PCs was to immediately wipe the device's drive and re-install a clean copy of Windows. While that is standard practice for enterprises -- which install a company-approved image -- many consumers and smaller businesses find that difficult. In lieu of a clean install, Duo recommended that users uninstall the unwanted software, including the updaters.

Microsoft touts its Signature line of PCs -- OEM notebooks and desktops that have no or little bloatware -- as a way to circumvent the problem. But of the three Signature-branded notebooks examined, one each from Asus, Dell and HP, Duo found that all still included the flawed updaters.


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