Using Software Patches to
The news reports are ominous: Hackers have unleashed computer viruses—dubbed Blaster and SoBig (and their variants)—that exploit flaws in the following versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system: NT 4.0, 2000, XP, and Server 2003.
These two viruses are called worms, which are small pieces of maliciously constructed software that spread to other computers and networks without any action by users. Blaster spreads through network connections, and SoBig infects computers the old-fashioned way—through unsolicited e-mail attachments in Microsoft Outlook.
These viruses sometimes go unnoticed and little or no damage is done. On the other hand, they also can cause major PC performance problems and other hair-pulling issues.
Just like with your physical health, it’s easier to prevent viruses than to cure them. Installing the latest antivirus software is the first and most obvious step. After that, the key is keeping your Microsoft software up-to-date by downloading and installing the latest patches from Microsoft.
Software patches are just like clothing patches. In the case of Windows, they are small bits of computer code that attach themselves to the overall operating system to fix flaws. Patches are easy to install, but no flashing lights and sirens on your PC will let you know when you need them.
To update Windows with a patch or service pack (a collection of patches), go to Microsoft’s www.windowsupdate.com. When you visit the home page, your system will be automatically scanned for recommended Windows updates. Then, just choose which patches you want to install. You can also visit www.microsoft.com/downloads and click the Windows (Security & Updates) link on the Download Categories menu to find fixes and other updates.
Using these tips to keep your Windows and Microsoft software current can help keep your PC virus-free.
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