Microsoft to Add QR Code of Death to Windows 10

Student stressed, tears his hair out, blue screen of death

For many PC users, the blue screen of death is the cause of many broken keyboards and for some of us, the irritation of an unstable overclock. But nevertheless it is a necessary alternative to being left in the dark. Microsoft understand this and in effort to make BSODs more reassuring, have added a QR code to the screen that would allow users to reach important tech support articles through their phone.

The idea is proposed naturally with good intentions on Microsoft’s part, as you wouldn’t be able to use the computer with the screen and some users would instinctively reach for their phone to snap a picture anyway. However, currently showcased in the latest Insider Preview of Windows 10, all is not sound with the idea.

The updated BSOD in effect during a crash showing new QR Code.
The updated BSOD showing new QR Code.

Security Concerns over Hackers using QR Code

The issue with the new BSOD is that it provides new ways for hackers and scammers to lure helpless victims into difficult, and often financially frustrating situations. The QR code could be over-written to redirect users to websites other than Microsoft’s own, which could contain scripts and redirects to pages and files that could cause further damage.

The QR code could link to malicious pages which contain JavaScript code that exploit the browsers of some phones to even infect other devices with ransomware. As the web becomes more capable and APIs grow in features, there is increasing worry for security in web pages, especially phones which may be running vulnerable firmware as much as 3 years old. There is also worry that this won’t just affect novice users, an application could emulate a bluescreen, directing experienced users to a web page offering the same.

Microsoft have only added this to the latest Insider build of Windows 10 and it has not reached the live build yet, they could choose to pull the feature from the operating system, or make it safer. But it’s bad enough to know your computer has thrown a tantrum with work potentially down the pan, best not add insult to injury.

Sources: [1] https://securityintelligence.com/ransomware-takes-a-scary-turn-using-javascript/
[2] http://www.tomsguide.com/us/windows-10-bsod-qr-code,news-22532.html
[3] http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/04/microsoft-adds-qr-codes-to-bsods-in-new-windows-10-preview-build/

About Matthew Hall 32 Articles
I am a developer and tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience working with a variety software stacks to create everything from websites to video games.

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