If you’re a Windows user, there’s a special day every month you should know about. The second Tuesday of every month is known as “Patch Tuesday,” the day that Microsoft releases the critical security updates for the month.
For March 2013, the updates and patches included security updates for Internet Explorer, Silverlight, SharePoint, OneNote and Outlook for Mac. Microsoft also hosted a webcast to address customer questions and made the webcast available on-demand for later viewing.
The security update for Internet Explorer was summarized with this statement: “This security update resolves eight privately reported vulnerabilities and one publicly disclosed vulnerability in Internet Explorer. The most severe vulnerabilities could allow remote code execution if a user views a specially crafted webpage using Internet Explorer. An attacker who successfully exploited these vulnerabilities could gain the same user rights as the current user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.” If you aren’t familiar with those terms, you may be saying, “what the heck does that mean and just what am I supposed to do about it?”
Fortunately, you don’t have to understand computer security jargon to keep your computer safe. Windows updates will happen automatically as long as you’re connected to the Internet and have your computer set up for automatic updates. Here’s how to make sure they’re enabled in Windows 7.
Go to the search box in the Start Menu and type “Windows Update” and click on the result or go to the Control Panel and select System and Security. Then select Turn automatic updating on or off.
You’ll get a window that allows you enable or disable automatic updates. You’ll have the option to select whether you want all updates recommended by Microsoft installed, or just ones classified as “important.You can also schedule if you want the updates installed automatically and when you would like them installed. Since some updates require restarts, you might choose to have this happen overnight or when you know you won’t be using your computer. Some expert computer users choose not to install the updates automatically, because they want to look closely at each individual update and consider the effect it might have on their system.
If you have a system security program such as System Mechanic, Norton or Mcafee, it’s a good idea to make sure automatic updates are enabled. With so many threats to your system, you’ll want the fixes as fast as possible. If, for some reason you don’t want automatic Windows updates , you can follow the steps listed above to get to Windows Update and select “Check for Updates.”
You’ll see what updates are available and have the option to download them if you wish.
If you aren’t going to automatically download and install security updates, it’s important to check for them frequently. Some people shy away from updates, because they’ve had the experience of an update affecting a favorite program. That can be very frustrating, but ignoring security updates could lead to something much worse. Think of the Internet as a place crawling with burglars who have nothing better to do but go around all day and night checking for open doors and windows (pun intended). So keep your doors and your Windows as secure as possible.