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Keeping Windows Patched

G’day All

I have been quite concerned for all our local businesses, and Volunteers who have computers, it’s been quite a challenging time at the moment, with all the new viruses around.

I thought I would try and keep you up-to-date as part of our service to you all.

Most sites agree now that there are
3 things to do to keep your computer safe.
First – Make sure you have Antivirus Software and keep it up to date by downloading the latest “Virus Definition” files.
Second – Install a firewall and keep it up-to-date and BE VIGILANT – this was the content of the previous email I had sent to everyone with my concerns that many computers did not have any Firewall software installed. If you missed this email or wish to refresh your mind I have placed it on the Web South web site at use_antivirus_and_firewall_sw.htm
Third – Make sure your computer Operating System (Windows) has the latest Software Patches. (get computer updates as Microsoft calls it)
This is an interesting one. I used to avoid doing this – always feeling that it was not necessary and perhaps a method of spying by Microsoft.
Well – again – the latest viruses have been exploiting the fact that a lot of the computers DO NOT have Windows patches installed.
So it has become important to fix this part up.
What are these Patches?  Basically what happens is that when Microsoft wrote the Windows program they made certain assumptions on how the program would work and handle security and memory management. Sometimes these assumptions were not correct. As these errors have been found out, someone has published these findings (there are groups of Good and Bad people trying to find these errors) Microsoft rushes to fix the problem. So that you don’ have to completely re-install Windows – Microsoft uses a technique called “Patching” where the code they write to fix the problem can change little bits of Windows and fix the problems – with a small update program (this can vary – some can be quite big). Sometimes this Patch can be run without having to shut down the computer – other times it requires a re-start).
To make things friendlier for YOU Microsoft has created systems within Windows to allow automatic updates to occur, or at least the minimum being to automatically be NOTIFIED of updates. This is my preferred option, at least then I can choose when that download will occur and be loaded.
There has been the odd patch which has caused more problems – and if I have approved it – I will at least find this as the item of suspicion. Although you may find that you can’t un-install all patches (even the ones that cause problems) – you will at least then be looking on the Microsoft site ready for any info about how to get around the problem or a new fix). Fortunately – these problems don’t happen too often.
Now a days – It’s important that you do install all the Security and Critical Updates that the Windows Updater tells you that you need.
On looking to see what is hype and what is not, I see on the Microsoft web site they recommend there are the 3 items again. They have the 3 mentioned above in a different order.
But – basically – if you are unsure of how to get updates for your Version of Windows, why not go to the Microsoft site at
where – if you choose your operating system (version of Windows) you can step through the 3 points – including the second one – “get computer updates”
You can also PRINT the instructions from here too!
If your ISP charges for Downloads or Time – look at the SIZE of the file the Windows Updater is suggesting you download.
Some items – such as the Service pack for Internet Explorer 6 can be quite big.
You may be better off obtaining them is from a Computer Magazine CDs at your local Newsagent. Please make sure they state on the CD that they DO include that file.
The other thing I can say – is that you should make sure you protect (with the 3 steps) EVERY COMPUTER you have which may access the Internet (I suggest that you do it for ALL your computers – but the ones connected to the Internet are absolutely urgent!
If you are having trouble with any of this – please ask me for help

CAUTION: Watch out for emails purporting to be Microsoft Patches
They are most likely viruses. They may either have attachments or send you to web pages which will take advantage of your computer system
ESPECIALLY – if your computer has not been Patched.
Delete them immediately.
DO NOT OPEN ATTACHMENTS for these emails.
Microsoft says they NEVER deliver updates by email
read about it at Microsoft
Note (Jan 2008): this link is an update as they have changed website since the article was written.

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/default.mspx


Another Update (30/03/2008) Quite some time ago Microsoft improved its download service, which used to be called Windows Update. it is now called Microsoft Update, and allows you to have other systems (Microsoft Software) within your computer to be checked to see if they need updating, and then update those files.
If you have not already set up “Microsoft Update” this link should activate a request by your Internet Explorer to download and install an ActiveX file. Start Here …


WOW! Sorry for another such technical one,
Hopefully it will have you on the way to keeping that computer and your data safe!
Peter Herriman