Security Advisor

Samsung Accused of Blocking Security Updates in its PCs

The company said that it is being done to provide customers with control over which updates to install.

Microsoft MVP Patrick Barker said he has discovered that Samsung is actively blocking security updates for Windows OS in some of its hardware.

Barker said he made the discovery when helping a client troubleshoot an issue on their Samsung machine. After doing some digging, he found that a custom Samsung updating tool called SW Update included a file called Disable_Windowsupdate.exe that Barker alleges blocks a machine from automatically downloading and installing security updates from Microsoft.

How the tool is supposed to work is that every time a machine is booted up, SW Update checks to make sure device drivers and preinstalled Samsung software is up to date. However, Barker found that the tool had another purpose.

"What's actually causing Windows Update to persistently become reset and not allow the user to set it the way they want it to, is the fact that Disable_Windowsupdate.exe creates a scheduled task that runs at every logon to ensure that Windows Update is indeed consistently reset to "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download or install them," wrote Barker in a blog post.     

This could lead to a user missing out on critical security patches and could leave the system open to attack. When Barker reached out to technical support for clarification on SW Update, he was told that the tool blocks Windows Update from running due to possible compatibility issues that could occur.

"When you enable Windows updates, it will install the Default Drivers for all the hardware no laptop which may or may not work," wrote an anonymous Samsung technical representative. "For example if there is USB 3.0 on laptop, the ports may not work with the installation of updates. So to prevent this, SW Update tool will prevent the Windows updates."

Later, in an official statement from Samsung, the company said that the tool is designed to give users the choice whether or not they want to install updates from Microsoft. The company also denied that the program was blocking a specific update to Windows 8.1, a statement that Barker said he found strange since his findings didn't suggest that only Windows 8.1 updates were being blocked, but all Windows OS updates.

On Thursday Microsoft also released a statement, saying it is looking into the matter. "Windows Update remains a critical component of our security commitment to our customers," wrote Microsoft. "We do not recommend disabling or modifying Windows Update in any way as this could expose a customer to increased security risks. We are in contact with Samsung to address this issue."

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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