DaleCo, S.P. - the solutions people!

Patched coat better than going naked...
Concerned about security? Update, update, update!

    When Microsoft recently "rolled out" a "roll-up" (in May 2002) after just releasing one in February, it made lots of us go "Huh?"...   But, as we began to look at users' machines and realized that virtually no one had applied the February patch, or, as near as we could tell, any patch at any time in recent memory.   Well, given our aversion to patching our clothes, roofs, pleasure craft and upholstery, I suppose I can understand.   But, let me tell you why patching is so important in our opinion.

   The last several viruses to make any kind of an impact on the world have all been targeted at Windows® systems that are connected to the Internet and download e-mail, usually with a mail client like Outlook or Outlook Express, which is part of the default installation of the Windows® OS.   The scenario is something like this:
1.   Someone discovers a security problem in some aspect of Microsoft's code.   It could even be that Microsoft discovers it first.   If not, it is discovered either by someone who wants recognition for their discovery and tells Microsoft about it, or by someone who tells the world about it by exploiting it by developing a virus, trojan, or other malware.

2.   Sometime after Microsoft discovers the problem (see #1 above), Microsoft engineers, who have been working hard to fix the problem, release a "patch" (often known as a "security fix") by posting it on their website(s).

3.   Following the patch release, a host of technical-type folks around the world determine why it was needed, what it does, whether or not it will be effective, and how to write articles for their websites that will attract more readers there and earn them some more money and a reputation based on 1.x cents per banner-ad click.   (Notice no ads here!--ed.)  And a very few people sit by their machines, log on to the website, download the patch and install it on their computer.
   Let me tell you WHY upgrading is such a winner.   Say, for example, your inbox receives a message containing the KLEZ virus.   Simply previewing the message (for example, moving past is with the arrow keys while moving up and down the list of messages) will allow the file to activate on any system.   On a patched system you will be asked if you wish to install a file, which just happens to be a virus.   You can "Just Say No."   But, on an unpatched system, the virus will install in the blink of an eye without you ever being told what happened.   The next time your reboot, BANG, you're totally infected --- and lots of these viruses these days are very pernicious.

   Upgrading your system by installing the patches is a great help even if you update your virus definitions regularly (we recommend that you update your antivirus once a week as a minimum.)   Many times a 'new' virus will use the same old software trick to gain access.   Your anti-virus software vendor may not have heard of this particular bug yet, but if the software hole is patched anyway, you'll be that much safer.

Happy computing!