Your old laptop could crash if it’s exposed to Janet Jackson’s ‘Rhythm Nation’


  • The issue only affects 5,400 RPM OEM hard drives when combined with Windows XP
  • Curiously, playing Janet Jackson’s 1989 hit could even impact nearby laptops
  • This vulnerability has been marked as CVE-2022-38392 by The Mitre Corporation

Earlier this week, Microsoft Software Engineer, Raymond Chen, shared an interesting anecdote about Windows XP-based computers running on 5,400 RPM hard drives. Chen revealed in a blog post that these hard drives can crash if Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” is playing in the background.

The issue was reportedly identified by “a major computer manufacturer,” although no names were revealed. Since then, it has been classified by The Mitre Corporation under CVE-2022-38392. In addition to crashing the laptops playing Janet Jackson’s hit single, any other nearby laptops (even from other brands) could also be impacted by this unique vulnerability.

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As per the official CVE entry, “a certain 5400 RPM OEM hard drive, as shipped with laptop PCs in approximately 2005” was primarily affected by this issue. The page then refers to Chen’s blog post about the concern.

We also learn that the mystery PC manufacturer who discovered the issue came quite close to fixing it. Chen revealed that the company sorted this out by including “a custom filter in the audio pipeline that detected and removed the offending frequencies during audio playback.”

However, this wasn’t a viable solution given that the laptop and hard drive would still crash if another device nearby was playing Rhythm Nation. This issue didn’t make the news previously since the song had already waned in popularity by the time Windows XP was officially available in 2001.

Should you be worried?

Unless you still have a Windows XP laptop, you have nothing to worry about. Given that there have been newer software versions released since the arrival of Windows XP, it’s likely that most of them are out of rotation already.

Source: Microsoft DevBlogs

Via: ArsTechnica