The recent ransomware attacks have brought old versions of Windows back under scrutiny in the hope that bugs and flaws can be patched before they become a problem. That means researchers are going back and finding all sorts of weird problems, including a particularly bizarre one discovered in Windows 7. It turns out any website can crash your computer with four simple characters.
The characters, $MFT, will be familiar to people who fiddle with metadata on old computers; it’s what Microsoft uses to designate a specific metadata file on your PC. Just having them appear on a site isn’t a problem, but if a website puts this cursed code on the directory name of its image folder, your computer won’t find the data it’s looking for, and it’ll keep looking, slowing to a crawl before locking up completely.
While this is a rare (and fairly ridiculous) problem, its discovery raises the issue of what else might be lurking in these old machines. As of February, according to Microsoft, just under 40% of Windows users were still running 7. Considering there are approximately a billion Windows users out there, and that this probably doesn’t include unlicensed and pirated versions, that’s a lot of people facing down a bad day thanks to one website.
(Via PC World)