It seems there's no end to issues related to older Windows versions as a new file system bug has been discovered that can crash PCs. The new file system bug unlike WannaCry ransomware at least won't lock older systems for bitcoins. Discovered by a security company named Aladdin RD, the new file system bug is related to a special metadata file dubbed "$mft."
Ars Technica points out that metadata files are used by the operating system's NTFS file system and exist in the root directory of each NTFS volume. These files, however, are handled by the NTFS drivers in "special ways" and they hidden from viewed and are inaccessible by most software. This in turn slows down other system processes, and hangs the system. A simple fix to the problem is restarting the system.
Engadget reached out to Microsoft for the new file system bug and a Microsoft spokesperson said, "Our engineers are currently reviewing the information. Microsoft has a customer commitment to investigate reported security issues and provide updates as soon as possible."
"When the attempt is made to open the file with respect to $mft file, the system function does not find it, because this function searches it little differently, unlike other system functions that find the file at all times. Consequently, the work cycle begins, starting with the root file system," explain the security researchers. If "$mft" is used as part of a directory name, such as C:\$MFT\coo, the system running Windows 8.1 and earlier can crash. The system function tries to open the file, getting stuck in a loop until the machine is restarted.
Researchers also claim that the system bug could allow any malicious website to try and load an image with "$mft" name in its directory path which older Windows version couldn't handle correctly. Notably, the new system bug doesn't affect Windows 10 users. The report notes that most browsers will try to block attempts to use the a resource like the image in the above example, however, older browsers like Internet Explorer will try to open the file still.