Rootkit Confirmed to Cause Win XP Update BSoDs

Earlier this month, Microsoft issued an update for Windows XP machines that suddenly triggered occurrences of Blue Screen of Death and reboots. Microsoft went digging and found that the problem wasn't with the patch, but rather malware.

Windows XP users who were infected with the Alureon rootkit would experience the crashes following the Windows Update procedure.

Microsoft's Mike Reavey writes on its TechNet blog:

We wanted to provide you with an update on our ongoing investigation into the “blue screen” issues affecting a limited number of customers who installed MS10-015. We have been working around the clock with our customers, partners and several teams at Microsoft to determine the cause of these issues. Our investigation has concluded that the reboot occurs because the system is infected with malware, specifically the Alureon rootkit. We were able to reach this conclusion after the comprehensive analysis of memory dumps obtained from multiple customer machines and extensive testing against third party applications and software. The restarts are the result of modifications the Alureon rootkit makes to Windows Kernel binaries, which places these systems in an unstable state. In every investigated incident, we have not found quality issues with security update MS10-015. Our guidance remains the same: customers should continue to deploy this month’s security updates and make sure their systems are up-to-date with the latest anti-virus software.

Check out Sophos Anti-Virus for removal of the rootkit.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • Titanius
    I knew that the article about how the latest updates from Microsoft made Windows XP have BSODs was bogus when I updated all the XP machines I support with the update and no BSODs showed up anywhere. Ah, a rootkit, comes to show how many people don't have "real" protection.
  • wintermint
    Oh man good thing I don't bother to update my XP anymore :D
  • foody
    Gotta love Windows 7.
  • cheepstuff
    Windows is almost never the problem. usually it is bad 3rd party stuff, viruses or, on occasion, on a failing piece of hardware.
  • amdchuck
    yup, I am still on a updated XP machine both at home and at work....never had a problem....well, not never but you know, in reference to this latest BSOD ballyhoo
  • Abrahm
    Don't worry guys, the rootkit developers were kind enough to issue a patch to resolve this BSOD issue that their software was causing!
  • jhansonxi
    The developers should made the patch compatible with the rootkit. Malware is a common enough application on Windows.
  • bluekoala
    You guys HAVE to be kidding me. This isn't a windows issue? The Kernel binaries are modified without the user's knowledge or consent. Windows is so unsecure you HAVE to rely on 3rd party software to keep it from dying of aids and syphilis. Oh, and not to mention the vulnerabilities that MS Office presents. What good is your computer without any 3rd party software anyway?
    I also would like to iterate the fact that their software is often overpriced and tends to revoke your control over your own system.

    The equasion is pretty simple:
    System works fine, update = BSOD.
    Update causes this.
    No update, no BSOD.

    If windows was worth any money that you pay for it, it would check the integrity of the files that their patches are affecting. But Microsoft would rather say it's no fault of theirs and that you happen to be SOL.
  • JonathanDeane
    7 may not be immune to these things but it is better equipped to resist them.

    This is just another example of the new generation of malware or spyware... Its so sneaky even using the machine presents no obvious symptoms.
  • m-manla
    I bet Microsoft is sick of pulling resources to find out the problem wasn't created by them.