the 80’s R&B song with a CVE! – Naked Security

You’ve probably heard the old joke: “Humor in the public service? It’s no laughing matter!”

But the thing about such sweeping, negative judgments is that it only takes a single counterexample to disprove them.

Something cannot be universally true if it is never false, not even for a single moment.

So wouldn’t it be nice if the public service could be optimistic every now and then…

… as cheerful, in fact, as Janet Jackson’s catchy dance number Nation of rhythmreleased in 1989 (yes, it really was that long ago)?

This was the era of shoulders, MTV, big-budget dance videos, and the kind of in-your-ears, in-your-face lyrical musicality that even YouTube’s contemporary automatic transcription system sometimes renders simply as:

  Bass, bass, bass, bass
  ♪ (Upbeat R&B Music) ♪
  Dance beat, dance beat

Well, as Microsoft superblogger Raymond Chen pointed out last week, that very song was apparently involved in a surprising system crash vulnerability in the early 2000s.

According to Chen, a major laptop manufacturer at the time (he didn’t say which one) complained that Windows was prone to crashing when certain music was played through the laptop’s speaker.

It appears that the crashes were not limited to the laptop playing the song, but could also be caused on nearby laptops that were exposed to the music “triggering the vulnerability”, and even on laptops of other suppliers.