Windows systems are crashing because of a bug related to special filenames

windows 7 81 filename bug bsod
If you’re among the holdouts still sticking with Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you should be aware of a newly discovered bug that can bluescreen your system if you happen to visit an affected website. The issue is related to the way filenames are constructed and calls to mind a similar problem that affected users in the 1990s.

Windows has long since employed several special filenames that refer to things other than individual files located on disk. The nature of these special filenames dictates that they need to be accessible from any location in the file system and they can cause the operating system to hang if they are not used properly.

The special filename at the heart of this bug is $MFT, which is the name given to a particular kind of metadata file used in Microsoft’s proprietary file system, according to Ars Technica.

$MFT is not visible under normal circumstances, the majority of software cannot access it directly, and Windows will block attempts to open the file. However, if there is an attempt to open $MFT as if it were a directory, a Windows driver will enforce a lock on the file that will never be released.

All attempts to access the file system will be blocked as a result, which will cause problems for any active applications. The computer might not necessarily bluescreen, but it will not be good for much until you reboot it.

Including a dodgy filename as an image source on a web page can successfully trigger the bug on a visitor’s computer. Some browsers are unaffected, as they don’t offer the ability to access local system resources in this manner — but apparently, Internet Explorer has no such restrictions and, as such, can be targeted quite easily.

Window 95 and Windows 98 were affected by a similar issue relating to special filenames that referred to hardware devices. Windows 10 is seemingly unaffected by the new iteration of the bug.

Features

Exclusive: The Surface Hub 2S will revolutionize work. Here’s how it was made

Exclusive interviews with the designers, futurists, and visionaries behind the Surface Hub 2 paint a dramatic picture of how Microsoft thinks collaboration will change your office.
Computing

MacOS update may include external display support for iPads

Apple's upcoming MacOS is rumored to include a new native external display support feature. Code-named "Sidecar" the new feature is expected to allow MacOS computers to send app windows to external displays like iPads.
Computing

Chromebooks are laptops, but they do things a little differently

Chromebooks are an intriguing branch of laptops that are often cheaper and faster than their Windows counterparts, but they are a little more limited. Intrigued? Here's everything you need to know about Chromebooks.
Gaming

Having PS4 problems? Check out our solutions to its most common issues

Just because the PlayStation 4 is a remarkable system doesn't mean that it's immune to the occasional hiccup. Lucky for you, we've vetted some of the bigger PS4 problems and found solutions for whatever might ail you.
Computing

Internet Explorer zero-day exploit makes files vulnerable to hacks on Windows PCs

Evidence of an Internet Explorer zero-day exploit capable of letting hackers steal files from Windows PCs was published online by a security researcher who also claims Microsoft knew of the vulnerability and opted not to patch it.
Product Review

You won't buy Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S, but it could still change your life

The Microsoft Surface Hub 2S wants to change the way you collaborate at work. That’s a lofty goal most devices fail to achieve, but the unique Hub 2S could be an exception. And trust us – you’re going to want it.
Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.
Computing

Meet the mastermind behind Microsoft's massive new Surface Hub

Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay gives us an exclusive peek at the 85-inch Surface Hub 2, and explains how innovation and collaboration will transform your workplace.
Computing

Microsoft reveals details of Surface Hub 2S, coming in June at $9,000

The Surface Hub 2 could be the most expensive whiteboard ever made, but it should be a powerful and capable one. With the ability to connect several of the 50-inch displays together, the picture at least, should be gorgeous.
Computing

Report says 20% of all 2018 web traffic came from bad bots

Distil Networks published its annual Bad Bot Report this week and announced that 20% of all web traffic in 2018 came from bad bots. The report had other similarly surprising findings regarding the state of bots as well.
Gaming

Learn to uninstall a Steam game and clear some space on your PC

Looking to learn how to uninstall Steam games? You've come to the right place. In this guide, we walk you through the process step by step, whether you want Steam to do it for you or handle the process manually.
Deals

Amazon strikes $100 off the price of Microsoft Surface Go tablets

If you've been eyeing Microsoft's Surface Go for its compact size and portability, now may be a great time to buy the tablet. Amazon has a $100 discount on the Surface Go, bringing the price of this slate down to just under $400.
Photography

Sweet 16: Wacom’s Cintiq 16 pen display makes retouching photos a breeze

Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays are usually reserved for the pros (or wealthy enthusiasts), but the new Cintiq 16 brings screen and stylus editing to an approachable price. Does it cut too much to get there?
Computing

Mueller report releases on CD, forces Congress to find PCs with disc drives

The Mueller report was released this week to Congress via CDs and congressional members had to find PCs with working disc drives to access the 400-page document. The redacted report was also released to the public on a website.