Samsung SW Update tool disables Windows Update

June 24, 2015 // 11:23 a.m.

Tags: #insecurity #patch #security #vulnerability #windows-update

Samsung has been found to be deliberately disabling Windows Update on its consumer systems, allegedly in the name of preventing incorrect drivers from being automatically installed.

Windows Update is the mechanism by which Microsoft's eponymous operating system receives regular functionality and, more importantly, security patches, traditionally released on Patch Tuesday each month. With Windows' position as the majority market leader for desktop and laptop operating system making it a prime target for attackers, keeping up-to-date is critical which is why Microsoft enables the automatic downloading and installation of security-related updates by default. Samsung, however, appears to think it knows better and has been discovered to be disabling the installation of patches via Windows Update on its machines.

According to a report by Microsoft MVP Patrick Barker on his technical blog, Samsung has been bundling a tool tellingly entitled "Disable_Windowsupdate.exe" through its Samsung SW Update utility - which, as you might expect, disables Windows Update. Preinstalled on all consumer Samsung Windows machines, Samsung SW Update handles updating the drivers and other pre-installed software packages - and, seemingly to prevent conflicts, prevents Windows Update from doing its job.

'On my home forum Sysnative, a user (wavly) was being assisted with a WU [Windows Update] issue, which was going well, aside from the fact that wavly's WU kept getting disabled randomly,' Barker explains in his post. 'It was figured out eventually after using auditpol.exe and registry security auditing that the program that was responsible for disabling WU was Disable_Windowsupdate.exe, which is part of Samsung's SW Update software.'

Having analysed the file to rule out malware - and discovering that it is signed by a valid Samsung key and includes the claim that 'This program helps your windows configuration settings' in its description - Barker contacted Samsung's support team. 'When you enable Windows updates, it will install the Default Drivers for all the hardware no laptop which may or may not work. For example if there is USB 3.0 on laptop, the ports may not work with the installation of updates,' the representative claimed in mitigation of the tool. 'So to prevent this, SW Update tool will prevent the Windows updates.'

Samsung has not yet issued a formal statement on the matter, but Barker has advised that users manually uninstall Samsung SW Update and re-enable Windows Update in order to ensure that their systems are protected against attack.
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