Google's Project Zero discloses 'important' security vulnerability in Windows 10

Google's Project Zero team has disclosed another Windows 10 security flaw after Microsoft failed to patch it within the standard timeframe of 90 days. As first spotted by Neowin, the bug is one of a pair that was initially reported to Microsoft in November. The company apparently fixed one of the bugs with its February Patch Tuesday fixes, but left the other untouched.

According to the Project Zero report, the flaw could allow an attacker to gain administrator privileges if exploited. The issue is listed as high severity by Google because of its ease of exploitation. However, it can't be exploited remotely, which caused Microsoft to categorize it as "important" rather than "critical." James Forshaw, the Google security researcher who reported the vulnerability, notes that it only affects Windows 10 and hasn't been verified to work on earlier versions, like Windows 7 or 8.1. It's unclear when Microsoft may release a fix for the issue in question.

This is the second flaw in a Microsoft product that Google's Project Zero team has made public in the past week. Last week, the team disclosed a vulnerability in Microsoft Edge after initially alerting Microsoft to the issue in November. According to the issue tracker, Microsoft stressed that a fix for that issue would be ready to ship in time for the March 13 Patch Tuesday.

Microsoft and Google have butted heads in the past over public disclosures of vulnerabilities. In November of 2016, Microsoft expressed frustration over Google's public disclosure of a zero-day vulnerability 10 days after reporting it to Microsoft, before the company had a chance to release a patch. That followed a similar war of words between the two companies in 2015, when Google made a Windows 8.1 vulnerability public two days before a patch was to be released. The two bugs disclosed this week followed Project Zero's standard protocol of publicly disclosing vulnerabilities after 90 days.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl