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© Sergei Babenko |
Security & privacy

Windows 10 update breaks critical browser security feature

Microsoft isn’t a newcomer or novice in the tech industry. It’s been around the block for decades and has some of the most prolific software designers working under its wing. So why on earth does this company keep screwing up software updates every single time!?

At least once per month since the year began, news arrives of a Microsoft update either causing bugs or breaking a critical feature in Windows 10. Tap or click here to see what the last faulty update ruined.

But now, Microsoft’s updates are buggy enough that they’re not just breaking Windows features, they’re messing up other programs, too! Chromium, the engine that powers the web’s most popular browsers, suffers a major security flaw when the latest Windows update is installed. The worst part: The fix causes your files to delete themselves!

Between a rock and a hard place

Microsoft has done it again! Rather than take the time to deliver a stable update free of security bugs, the company announced it had found a flaw in Windows 10 update 1903 that breaks the security features of Chromium, the backbone of web browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox and even Microsoft Edge (the pre-installed browser).

Just to clarify, this update is different from the highly anticipated May 2020 update, which is numbered as version 1904. That update has seen positive early test results from beta users and may offer fixes for several bugs like this one. Tap or click here to find out if the May 2020 upgrade is worth using.

As bad as this bug is, the fix for it might actually make matters worse. The only patch for the issue can cause a completely different set of problems.

To address the flaw, which can allow malicious files to spread from your browser and infect your PC, Microsoft has delivered a patch — Windows 10 KB4549951. Once this patch was installed by users, however, several reported their files went missing or appeared to delete themselves.

In other words, Windows users have a choice: Fix a dangerous security issue and risk deleting your personal files or live with a less-secure web browsing experience. What a mess!

What’s the best course of action here?

At this point in time, neither fix looks particularly appetizing. The folks who’ve lost files don’t have any way of getting them back short of restoring from a backup, so if you haven’t done one recently, we wouldn’t advise trying this option.

Alternatively, you could just wait it out until the May 2020 update arrives in a matter of weeks. This update will include numerous bug and security fixes, and may even increase the speed of several older computers with mechanical hard drives. No official release date is set for this, but we can’t imagine it getting delayed beyond the end of the month.

If you’ve already managed to make the jump to the KB4549951 update, we wouldn’t recommend rolling back, either. Because the new update is so close, you won’t be dealing with too much risk for very long. Just be extremely cautious with backing up your data. Tap or click here to see the best ways to back up your files.

Once the new May 2020 update is available, you can access it by opening Settings from the Start menu and clicking Update and Security. If the update is available, it’ll appear at the top of the menu for you to click and download.

In the meantime, exercise great caution with all of your online activities. Don’t download any files you’re not 100% sure about, and avoid opening emails from senders you don’t recognize. If you’re more vulnerable to malware than normal, it’s up to you to steer clear of danger until you’re secure and patched-up again.

Bonus: Do update Firefox for better security

Firefox may be at risk for the Windows 10 flaw, but a new update from the program’s developers fixes a few other critical security issues. Not only that, the Firefox 76.0 update includes a new password protection feature that alerts you if your username and passwords were caught in a data breach.

To install the update, just go to Help and click on About Firefox to see if you’re up to date. If not, the update will automatically download for you to install. Restarting Firefox will automatically boot the update and the browser will refresh itself with the patches installed.

Hey, at least one company is building competent updates. We’ll take the wins where we can.

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