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Top Story: Scary research reveals how the Blue Screen of Death could be a gateway for hackers

Top Story: Scary research reveals how the Blue Screen of Death could be a gateway for hackers
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

We recently told you about Microsoft's updated Blue Screen of Death for Windows 10. The BSOD is what you see when your computer encounters a critical error. Unlike past versions of the BSOD that gave you too much incomprehensible information, or no information, this new BSOD aims to actually be useful.

One way it does this is by showing a QR code, which is that square bar code you've seen around. You can scan the QR code with a phone or tablet and get a lot more information about what caused the crash. However, according to one security researcher, hackers could use this new BSOD to attack you. How?

Imagine a hacker tricks you into downloading a program or image that makes it look like you've had a Blue Screen of Death. You use your phone or tablet to activate the fake QR code and it takes you to a malicious site that asks for personal information.

You might also see a request to install an app. If you think the website or request is coming from Microsoft, you might give up personal information or let the app install without thinking twice. That's not going to end well.

At this point, this threat is just something a security researcher dreamed up and no hackers are actually attacking this way. However, if one person can think it up, you can bet other people will eventually do it.

If you encounter a Blue Screen of Death with a QR code, first hit CTRL + SHIFT + ESC to try and bring up the Windows Task Manager. If the Task Manager appears then you aren't seeing a real BSOD. Once a real BSOD happens your computer won't respond to anything but a restart.

Also, if you scan the QR code and your phone takes you to a site asking for information, or asking you to download an app, then you're looking at a scam. Microsoft will only give you information. They won't request it, or ask you to install anything.

If it turns out to be a real BSOD, find out how you can track down what is causing it and fix it.

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