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Security & privacy

Windows warning: Hackers can remotely plant malicious code on your PC – do this now

The coronavirus might be occupying most of the news chatter these days, but that doesn’t mean computer hackers and cybercriminals are giving up their day jobs. After all, hacking is very much a work-from-home kind of career.

And to make matters worse, it’s likely hackers and cybercriminals will take advantage of the sheer amount of folks working from home to wreak havoc on our computer systems. Tap or click here to see how coronavirus is changing malware.

When looking for avenues to infect a computer, hackers often rely on zero-day exploits for their devastating attacks. And now, a new PC exploit has been discovered that hackers are already using in the wild. Here’s how you can protect yourself.

Hackers didn’t take work off after all…

Much like a person under quarantine, hackers tend to be self-isolated. But unlike the rest of us, who spend our free time in quarantine watching Netflix and YouTube, hackers are busy exploiting system weaknesses and refining their skills.

And sure enough, Microsoft recently disclosed a new security exploit found in all currently supported versions of Windows.

The flaw takes advantage of a system file that helps Windows render fonts. Through this back channel, hackers can hijack your computer remotely with nothing more than a corrupted Word document or PDF.

Making matters worse, Microsoft admitted there isn’t a patch available at the moment. Microsoft tends to release patches on the second Tuesday of every month, so April 14th is the most optimistic outlook.

The company currently rates the severity of the flaw as “critical,” so we hope it’s a priority for the Windows development team. Tap or click to see what the last Windows update patched.

What can I do in the meantime?

As bad as this bug is, it’s actually pretty easy to keep your system safe from it. All you need to do is watch what you download.

This exploit is triggered by a malicious file that executes code through fonts, and these files are usually spread by links and email attachments. Avoid opening any emails from people you don’t know and never download any attachments you’re not 100% sure about.

Also, avoid unfamiliar websites and shady corners of the web. Malicious sites can contain links that automatically install these kinds of files on your system. Tap or click to see how these sites can even install ransomware.

Even if the file looks like a harmless word document, this exploit means you can’t be too careful. We don’t need digital viruses spreading around when a literal one is already everywhere.

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