Unusual NTFS bug causes web pages to crash Windows 7 and 8.1 PCs

By: Costea Lestoc
2 minute read

If you’re still running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you should know that it is currently vulnerable to a strange bug that can cause your PC to slow down its performance or even crash.

The $MFT filename

The problem only appears when you’re browsing a website using a particular filename for something such as an image source. It seems that PCs running Windows 10 are not affected by the flaw.

The specific filename is $MFT, a filename usually used by the NTFS file system for a particular metadata file. The file exists in the root directory of each NTFS volume, but the NTFS driver handles it in special ways, is usually hidden from user view, and is also inaccessible to most software. Every attempt to open the file normally will be blocked.

It turns out that web pages which use $MFT as a directory name will lead the PC to slow down its performance, lock up or crash with the blue screen of death. This happens because the web browser will try accessing the bad file which is handled in special ways in these versions of the operating system.

Similarities with an older bug from Windows 95 and 98 era

The flaw is similar to the one that tortured users a while ago when PCs were running Windows 95 or 98. Back then, certain specially crafted filenames were able to make the OS crash. Malicious users could use this to attack other people’s PCs by using one of the specific filenames as an image source. The browser would try to access the bad file and Windows would crash.

Currently, depending on what your PC is doing, it will show the blue screen and you will need to reboot it to recover.

The strange bug has been reported to Microsoft, but the company didn’t release a fix for the issue yet.

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