Windows 'black screen' problem still a mystery

U.K.-based security firm Prevx has apologized for suggesting that changes in Microsoft's November security patch might be causing black screens in Windows-based machines.

In a Nov. 27 blog post, Prevx said the cause of the black screens might be due to how new rules for the access control list were being applied to Windows registry keys during updates. The company said the black screens affected the following operating systems: Windows 7, Vista, XP, NT, Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008.

On Dec. 1, Prevx issued a mea culpa to Microsoft, saying there could be multiple causes for the black screens.

Prevx hasn't specified how many users might be affected by the problem, but the company offers a free tool to fix it. It indicated Dec. 2 that "there have been more than 50,000 downloads of the free fix tool since we made it available five days ago."

Apparently, the cause of the black screens remains a mystery. However, Microsoft does not see it as a pervasive issue.

Christopher Budd, Microsoft's security spokesman, said in an e-mail message that the company has "investigated reports that its November security updates made changes to permissions in the registry that are resulting in system issues for some customers." He added that Microsoft's Customer Service and Support organization is "not seeing 'black screen' behavior as a broad customer issue."

Budd ruled out the registry key association with the problem in a blog entry posted Dec 1. Although Microsoft doesn't know the cause of the problem, "'black screen' behavior is associated with some malware families such as Daonol," he said.

About the Author

Jabulani Leffall is a journalist whose work has appeared in the Financial Times of London, Investor's Business Daily, The Economist and CFO Magazine, among others.

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