The free updates provided to Windows users are an asset these days, allowing customers to constantly wield stronger and more reliable software without the need to purchase a new operating system every couple of months. One of Windows 10’s new updates however, jeopardizes its users’ PCs by masking the true intent of some malicious files users might come in contact with on the internet.

Windows 10 users have become more vulnerable to malware and ransomware with the new Windows update labeled “KB4535996”. Although Microsoft does not acknowledge any issues with the said update, claiming they are “not currently aware of any issues with this update”; one of the biggest quality of life fixes with KB4535996 actually exposes Microsoft customers to pernicious software by not informing them of what type of file they are about to click.

The new update hides the letters shown after a file name. Windows thought it would clean up the interface somewhat if they outright covered the .txt, .mp3 and .doc labels trailing a PC’s files. How this exposes users is it strengthens the camouflage used by phishers and malware in order to install their rogue software on your system.

A most common practice by cyber criminals is to give their virus an unsuspicious file name, followed by an icon of something harmless like an Adobe or Word file. Be that as it may most users would be able to recognize that the extension on file was not .pdf or .doc but a .exe – that is, an “executable” file that installs onto your computer. While in the past these efforts would be futile on competent users, the camouflage of file extensions could allow the innocent looking files to slip past and corrupt the entire system.

There are two ways to fix this hole in your PC’s defenses. One way is to view your computer’s update history and completely uninstall the KB4535996 update. The other way is open your start menu, then search “folder options” to open you File Explorer Options where you may uncheck the “Hide extensions for known file types” option. The fix may be quite simple but its results are worth their weight in gold for your security.

We can see Microsoft’s goal with the update, to make their interface cleaner for their customers; but in this case the shift has much more potentially for bad than good. Microsoft may not have yet admitted to the error in their idea but hopefully they will make an official announcement soon. Sometimes you must take one step backwards in order to take several steps forward in the right direction.

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