Microsoft Tries, Again, to Get in Front of Printing Vulnerabilities

Posted on August 11, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows with 8 Comments

After a couple of months of struggling to figure out a string of printing-related vulnerabilities, Microsoft thinks it has found the fix. It will now require admin privileges for a system feature called Point and Print.

“Our investigation into several vulnerabilities collectively referred to as ‘PrintNightmare’ has determined that the default behavior of Point and Print does not provide customers with the level of security required to protect against potential attacks,” the Microsoft Security Response Center team writes. “Today, we are addressing this risk by changing the default Point and Print driver installation and update behavior to require administrator privileges.”

This change was delivered in a cumulative update for all supported Windows versions as part of yesterday’s Patch Tuesday releases, and it is documented as CVE-2021-34481. This update will mitigate the publicly documented vulnerabilities in the Windows Print Spooler service, Microsoft says, but it may also “impact Windows print clients in scenarios where non-elevated users were previously able to add or update printers.”

Naturally, Microsoft believes the security risk justifies this change. And given the events of the past two months, it’s hard to disagree.

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Microsoft Tries, Again, to Get in Front of Printing Vulnerabilities”

  1. waethorn

    For Microsoft, security is a "hard engineering problem".

  2. crunchyfrog

    Managing users' printing has always been a pain and this won't change that but at least the security hole should be tightened up. At least until the next one that gets discovered is exploited.

  3. brettscoast

    Thanks for the update let's hope this ends the nightmare :)

  4. delorean

    Its not often that I need to print something. But I absolutely dread it when I do. For the past year printing something with any of my Windows 10 computers has been an absolute act of absolute frustration. Its a 1/2 hour profanity laden dance of removing the printer from devices, reinstalling the latest driver, adding the printer again and praying that it works. The most important Windows 11 feature for me is to be able to print frustration free.

    • pachi

      I feel like since win10 I need the newest drivers often or there is issues. I assume due to twice yearly OS updates. I am sure it varies printed to printer.

  5. Ian Gilham

    We've been doing the printer dance for a decade or two. There's no reason to think that'll ever change.

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