Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Why apply Microsoft security updates?

Microsoft has just released this months Security Patches for its various products, such as Windows and Office. They release such updates once a month in order to plug newly discovered vulnerabilities in Microsoft software. They have released more updates than usual this month.

If you see a small icon in the form of a yellow shield in the tray next to the clock, in the bottom right corner of your computer screen, then it is likely that you need to install the patches that your computer has helpfully downloaded for you. If you don't see this icon then browse to http://www.windowsupdate.microsoft.com to see if there are any updates needed for your PC and follow the instructions.

Why do I need to do this?

Hackers are constantly trying to discover new ways to gain access to your computer. One way they attempt to do this is by exploiting vulnerabilities within software installed on your computer. Microsoft software is especially at risk as it is the most widely used software on computers, (and some would say the most poorly written and over-bloated, making it difficult to ensure it is secure.)

Each time a new vulnerability is discovered Microsoft must bring out a patch, to prevent the vulnerability being exploited by the hackers. This could be considered similar to bolting the stable door after the horse has gone, of course, but it is the best way to ensure the software is as secure as possible (short of creating a new operating system).

What if I can't be bothered?

If you don't apply the Microsoft patches then the possibility of a successful hack of your computer increases. As more and more people apply the patches fewer and fewer computers remain to be hacked.

The hackers can look at my information if they wish! There's nothing exciting to see!

In that case you may as well send me all of your bank details, your account names and passwords and sit back whilst I empty your bank account. Thanks very much...

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© Michael Donkin 2009