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Faulty Windows 10 update breaks printing with smart cards

Microsoft’s 2021 printing woes continue after several vulnerabilities were found in the Print Spooler component

Microsoft has confirmed that its recent Patch Tuesday round of fixes for Windows 10 has introduced a bug that’s causing issues when users try to print or scan using smart cards for authentication.

As part of the wave of updates released on 13 July, Microsoft attempted to fix an issue affecting printers that were connected to machines through USB connections. However, after installing the updates on domain controllers (DCs), administrators might find that some multifunctional printers will fail to print when using smart card (PIV) authentication

These ID cards are often used in secure environments and workplaces with contactless card readers for gaining entry to certain areas and are also attached to devices such as printers to authenticate identities prior to their usage. The affected machines are printers and scanners that aren’t compliant with section 3.2.1 of RFC 4556 spec, according to Microsoft. 

“If you encounter this issue with your printing or scanning devices, verify that you are using the latest firmware and drivers available for your device,” a Microsoft advisory said. “If your firmware and drivers are up-to-date and you still encounter this issue, we recommend that you contact the device manufacturer. 

“Ask if a setting or configuration change is required to bring the device into compliance with the hardening change or if a compliant update will be available.”

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The firm confirmed it’s working on a temporary mitigation, but this isn’t yet available to share. This should allow printing and scanning on affected devices, allowing time for manufacturers to release compliant firmware and drivers for their devices. 

This issue might cause a nightmare for workers in certain office environments that rely on smart card-compatible printers. It follows a string of issues in Windows deployments this year, including a string of vulnerabilities detected in the Print Spooler component.

For example, users encountered several printer-related problems in the Patch Tuesday round of fixes released on 9 March this year, according to Neowin. Some instances even resulted in users encountered a blue screen of death when trying to print as a result of driver conflicts. These were subsequently fixed on 15 March in an emergency fix. 

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