Microsoft is rolling out a security fix to Windows 10 after the US National Security Agency (NSA) warned the popular operating system contained a highly dangerous flaw that could be used by hackers.
The NSA revealed during a press conference on Tuesday that the “serious vulnerability” could be used to create malicious software that appeared to be legitimate.
Microsoft said it has not seen any evidence that hackers have used the technique discovered by the NSA.
“Customers who have already applied the update, or have automatic updates enabled, are already protected,” said Jeff Jones, a senior director at Microsoft, in a statement.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the NSA discovered the flaw in recent weeks and alerted Microsoft to the problem.
Priscilla Moriuchi, who retired from the NSA in 2017 after running its East Asia and Pacific operations, said this is a good example of the “constructive role” that the NSA can play in improving global information security.
Moriuchi, now an analyst at the US cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, said it was probably a reflection of changes made in 2017 to how the US determines whether to disclose a major vulnerability or exploit it for intelligence purposes.
The revamping of what’s known as the “vulnerability equities process” put more emphasis on disclosing unpatched vulnerabilities whenever possible to protect core internet systems and the US economy and general public.
The NSA has previously been criticised after it took advantage of vulnerabilities in Microsoft products to deploy hacking tools against adversaries and kept the technology multinational in the dark about it for years.
When one of those tools was dramatically leaked to the internet by a group calling itself ShadowBrokers, it was deployed against targets around the globe by hackers of all stripes.
In the most dramatic case, a group used the tool to unleash a massive malware outbreak dubbed WannaCry in 2017. The data-wiping worm wrought global havoc, affecting what Europol estimated was some 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries.