Windows 11 security fix has broken some anti-cheat software

Some Windows 11 users have been experiencing a security error due to an update to Microsoft’s integrated antivirus software for the operating system. This issue appears to be wreaking havoc, particularly for specific games that employ anti-cheat technology and is also leading to a variety of other complications more broadly.

Following the most recent update for Microsoft Defender, delivered automatically to the application, impacted users are encountering a perplexing alert message. The warning reads: “Kernel-mode Hardware-enforced Stack Protection is off. Your device may be vulnerable.” This message has been causing confusion and concern among those who have received it.

Simply put, this pertains to a recently updated security feature in Windows 11, first introduced with the 22H2 update. This feature utilizes the computer’s processor to provide an extra layer of security for software applications or games. Safeguarding the memory stack helps prevent potential attackers from exploiting vulnerabilities and executing malicious code on the system.

The Windows Security application presents users with an option to reactivate stack protection. However, the issue is that in certain cases, this action fails to resolve the problem, and the warning persists.

The root cause of this predicament appears to be a driver conflict. In many instances, it seems that anti-cheat features are causing significant disruptions in compatibility with Windows 11.

Nonetheless, when users attempt to “review incompatible drivers” to address the problem, Windows 11 may not yield any results in some cases. According to a Reddit report, the system displays an empty panel in certain instances.

On the other hand, a user who experienced issues with Phantasy Star Online 2 discovered that the incompatible “driver” was identified. It was a file associated with GameGuard (the game’s anti-cheat software). Uninstalling PSO2 resolved the issue, indicating that the conflict lies with GameGuard.

The problem does not exclusively affect older games like PSO2. Newer titles, such as Destiny 2 and Valorant, which also utilize anti-cheat systems that deeply integrate with the operating system, are experiencing similar difficulties.

The extent of the compatibility conflict caused by the new stack protection feature remains uncertain. However, numerous reports have surfaced across various online forums, indicating that the issue is not limited to gamers alone. However, games seem to contribute significantly to the problems encountered at this stage.

For users grappling with this issue, as previously mentioned, one possible solution is to uninstall the game that incorporates the problematic anti-cheat feature. Naturally, this is far from an ideal solution, particularly if the game in question is a personal favorite.