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  • How safe are installed & genuine-vendor signed old drivers, specifically when attackers are spoofing Microsoft and other vendor certificates?
  • On older PCs and laptops where some components are no longer recognized by Windows Device Manager since Microsoft removes older drivers from their catalog periodically. Does this expose the device to attacks via the said component?
  • When driver is available for said old component, but you don't essentially need that component (RST, Intel ME, DriveGuard, any XYZ old tech). Is having no driver safer than installing old driver?

This is a multi-faceted question (ignoring the fact that old device hardware example CPUs with Spectre, Meltdown etc. are themselves vulnerable) hence requesting understanding of various risks at play.

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    "specifically when attackers are spoofing Microsoft and other vendor certificates" Like how? No vendor drivers still means having generic Windows driver.
    – defalt
    Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 18:51
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    seems like the answer is "yes"... but that means you can't use the device. How safe is an old driver, does it expose you to attack? Not sure those are answerable... even on a case-by-case basis. The driver is not likely to be designed to be malicious if it comes from the manufacturer, but without current testing and updates, even the manufacturer can't know. Commented Oct 24, 2023 at 23:29
  • FYI: Intel ME is actually a separate chip on the mobo, and if the firmware isn't updated can be it's own independent vulnerability even with no software installed. Even then some mobo(s) are too old and not getting any firmware updates for ME which leaves the doors wide open. You would have to completely disable ME if you can(probably in the BIOS). If you can disable it then windows won't ask for any drivers for it. wired.com/story/… 2023 mobo(s) sometimes update ME when the BIOS is updated but older ones did not.
    – cybernard
    Commented Oct 27, 2023 at 18:27

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