A file naming bug that can crash Windows 8.1 and earlier

It looks like the famous blue screen of death lives on. A Russian data security researcher has discovered a simple bug in the NTFS file system which has the capacity to crash Windows Vista to Windows 8.1 PCs after being executed.

Here’s how it works: by simply using $MFT as a part of a file name, the older versions of Windows lock up at best, and display a blue screen of death at worst.

Basically, $MFT is Windows NTFS’s Master File Table. The function of this file is to track all files on the volume, as well as their logical location in folders, the physical hard drive location, and file metadata.

When Windows is tricked to open it as an ordinary file, the operating system is unable to locate it, then attempts to close down access to the file. Since it had to open the file system when mounting, this will fail, throwing up an error and looping over and over again.

This is a potential data security issue, since an attacker could exploit this bug and get you to open a malicious web page designed to take advantage of this bug. Opening a web address with a fatal filename that includes $MFT in the file path could initiate the crash.

Windows 10 users are safe from this, as well as those who use the Chrome browser. Another piece of great news is that the most this exploit can do is temporarily crash a computer, as there were no cases yet of this being used to spread malware.