Microsoft digitally signs malicious rootkit driver

Stock photo of a virus alert on a laptop screen.

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Microsoft gave its digital imprimatur to a rootkit that decrypted encrypted communications and sent them to attacker-controlled servers, the company and outside researchers said.

The blunder allowed the malware to be installed on Windows machines without users receiving a security warning or needing to take additional steps. For the past 13 years, Microsoft has required third-party drivers and other code that runs in the Windows kernel to be tested and digitally signed by the OS maker to ensure stability and security. Without a Microsoft certificate, these types of programs can’t be installed by default.

Eavesdropping on SSL connections

Earlier this month, Karsten Hahn, a researcher at security firm G Data, found that his company’s malware detection system flagged a driver named Netfilter. He initially thought the detection was a false positive because Microsoft had digitally signed Netfilter under the company’s Windows Hardware Compatibility Program.

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