What’s New in Windows 10’s August 2021 Security Update?

Regardless of how annoying they are, security updates do solve many problems. The new Windows August 2021 Patch Tuesday is out and available for download on all associated operating systems. Windows introduces these updates on the first Tuesday of every month, and this month it’s all about security fixes.

They have revamped much of their previous administrative structure, finally addressing the vulnerabilities in the Print Spooler Service. However, there is more to it than that, and it’s probably best to get the patch as soon as possible.

Update Files and Patches: Why They Are Important

Updates are important for several reasons. As developers and programmers add new features and applications to their programs or Operating Systems, they inadvertently create more vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities are always at risk of being exploited by a malicious party or hackers.

For the layman, it may seem trivial, but system software updates and update files, in general, are essential for securing your online identity and personal information. If your PC or smartphone gets infected with a virus, you could accidentally pass it to your friends, family, or co-workers.

Additionally, they also add new features and fix bugs. This is all to ensure that the recipient has the fastest and the smoothest experience with the software. Who knows, it could save your application from crashing. So next time an update prompt pops up, it might be worthwhile to spend a few minutes downloading and installing it.

The Windows August 2021 Updates

This time around, Microsoft was more focused on patching up anything that might compromise your PC's security.

Windows Print Spooler Vulnerability

This risk has been around since June 2020 and resolving it is a major part of this update. A Print Spooler is an application that connects a computer to a printer allowing it to print documents and pictures. This vulnerability could allow an attacker to control a system remotely once he had access to it; without even having the password.

This was important since it affected every Windows OS since Windows 7 SP1. Also, the Print Spooler function is used extensively in businesses, and having to work without it would be impractical, leaving the users exposed to a breach. The real reason for its top priority was the severity of damage it could cause if a hacker found how to exploit it; he could have access to a business’ database and view and delete data.

This vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2021-34527 and was nicknamed the PrintNightmare Vulnerability. We've looked at how to fix PrintNightmare in Windows if you want to learn more about it.

Changes and Additions to the 21H1 Version

The update brought a fix for many of the bugs for the 21H1 software, sorting out 44 flaws. Since 21H1 is the latest version of Windows 10, it has had the most technical improvements and overall performance upgrades.

It has implemented the administrative permission to install and update print drivers (this was added, of course, to address the PrintNightmare bug). So you will just be brought to an administrator prompt whenever you try to install a print driver.

Games Launchers will be prevented from launching applications without the user's permission. There have also been some minor updates for games, such as canceling the noise from pressing the controller trigger, addressing problems with game mode, and implementing new power consumption plans. These have helped to raise the frame rate and the overall performance of the PC when gaming.

It also improves the servicing stack, which allows you to smoothly install the Windows updates by making it more robust. The Servicing Stack Updates (SSU) ensure that you can reliably install the latest cumulative updates, monthly roll-ups, and security updates.

Improvements and Changes to the 1607 Version

This is a slightly older operating system that Windows released around 2016. However, its use in businesses and the financial market is still widespread, and as such, Windows continues to release updates for this software.

It has removed Adobe Flash Player from the device, keeping it in line with other operating systems. Additionally, it significantly improved the verification of usernames and passwords. It made Windows less susceptible to a breach when performing basic functions like booting up, shutting down, or restarting.

As before, it has also been made mandatory to seek administrative permission before installing or updating any printer drivers to minimize the risk of an intrusion. The update also addresses the issue that causes Windows to crash or slow down when AppLocker is used to manipulate files. It fixes several other esoteric, albeit minor, malfunctions, like the accidental zoom on Microsoft Edge.

Windows Update Medic Service

Perhaps the next greatest security risk after the PrintNightmare bugs is Windows Update Medic Service (WUMS). WUMS is a software introduced by Microsoft to run in the background continuously. Its primary function is to download and install minor updates.

It is essential for the proper functioning of Windows OS, especially since updates that small don’t warrant the use of an update file. It is also used to repair Windows update components to ensure that new instructions are executed smoothly and add supplementary data.

Attackers have managed to find and exploit a weakness. Though it is unclear how many Windows users were affected, it is a significant liability to a user’s information, especially since it can be hacked at any time (as it is always running in the background). According to Microsoft, they have detected the vulnerability and have rectified it.

New Updates, New Issues

An update will fix a lot of the issues it addresses but will inevitably create new ones as a result. For example, many people have found that changing between applications using the Alt-Tab keys is sluggish and often problematic. As a result, windows takes the user back to the desktop.

Luckily, there is a solution. The problem is associated with the “News and Interest Feed” introduced in the new update. You can disable it by following these simple steps:

  1. Right-click anywhere on the taskbar
  2. Scroll up to the News and Interest menu
  3. Select Turn off

Not All Bugs Are Created Equal

The August 2021 Patch covered up many potential breach sites and made things fall into place to work together faster. In all, Microsoft managed to remove 44 vulnerabilities, 13 of which were remote code executions, 8 were information disclosures, and 2 were DoS, and 4 were spoofing vulnerabilities.

So, whether it’s a minor bug or a significant cybersecurity threat, Windows has taken care of most, if not all, of the potential loopholes in its software and application.

Author: Maham Asad

Source: Maham Asad.” What’s New in Windows 10’s August 2021 Security Update?”. Retrieved From https://www.makeuseof.com/whats-new-in-windows-10s-august-2021-security-update/

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