Windows 7 desktop
Windows 7 desktop Microsoft

A bug resembling those from older versions of Windows can now affect any Windows 7 or 8.1 system. The bug is reminiscent of the 1990s Windows bugs that had specially crafted filenames that could make the operating system crash.

Ars Technica reports that certain bad filenames can lock up the system or occasionally crash it. Malicious webpages are most often responsible for embedding these filenames by using them as image sources. When users visit such a page regardless of the browser they use, the system is likely to hang and crash shortly after.

The new bug does not affect Windows 10 users but others need to be wary. The special filename that crashes the system is called $MFT. $MFT. It is located in the root directory of each New Technology File System (NTFS) volume, but is hidden from view and inaccessible to most software.

The file does not open even when you try. Every other action is rendered useless as the system hangs and you can only resume work if you reboot. It is like those CD player game files that you tried to open as a kid on your PC, where the system would hang when you tried to open certain files.

Is there a fix?

Microsoft has been made aware of the bug and is likely working on a fix but no patch is available until now. The best precaution against the bug would be not to download suspicious files or click on bogus links. Even better is to upgrade to Windows 10, which has not been affected by most of the recent Windows exploits including the WannaCry ransomware attacks.