Samsung disables Windows Update, leaving laptops open to hackers – The Guardian

Samsung is disabling Windows Update on some of its computers, leaving users exposed to security holes and bugs according to an independent Microsoft support engineer.

A system designed to help update Samsung’s pre-installed software, called Samsung SW Update, used a program called “Disable_Windowsupdate.exe.” to, as the name implies, disable Microsoft’s built in update system for Windows.

Microsoft support engineer Patrick Barker, identified the issue while attempting to diagnose a Windows Update problem.

Turning off Windows Update is risky

Windows Update is responsible for delivering bug fixes, driver updates, program updates and crucial security patches for Microsoft’s operating system. Without it holes that are discovered in Windows will not be fixed, leaving users vulnerable to attack by cyber criminals, viruses and hacking.

A Samsung support representative told Barker that “when you enable Windows updates, it will install the Default Drivers for all the hardware on the laptop which may or may not work… so to prevent this, SW Update tool will prevent Windows updates.”

Samsung’s software seemingly disables Windows Update because during the process of applying Windows updates it could replace drivers needed to run hardware features such as USB 3.0 ports on Samsung computers.

Even if users manually turn on Windows Update within settings it will be disabled by Samsung’s software when the computer, typically a laptop, is rebooted.

“As there are many instances of malware trying to deliberately disable Windows Updates in order to get on with their dirty work, I personally wouldn’t feel entirely comfortable if Samsung was going around doing the job for them,” said independent security researcher Graham Cluley. “Turning off Windows Update in its entirety, the Microsoft software with the responsibility for keeping your Microsoft operating system and apps like Internet Explorer updated with the latest security patches, seems like a risky move to me.”

Samsung exited the PC laptop market in Europe last year, after struggling sales moved it into the “bottom four” of the PC market with Toshiba, Samsung, Sony, and Fujitsu, which together held only 12% of the market according to data from Gartner.

Samsung continues to sell laptops and Chromebooks outside of Europe. It has not responded to a request for comment.

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