Important Patch Tuesday

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Important Patch Tuesday: a reader asks…

My office just circulated a flyer warning that some serious vulnerabilities exist for Windows 10 as well as other Microsoft software and operating system versions. A US-CERT bulletin (AA20-014A) was issued today outlining those vulnerabilities and my office is telling everyone to update their Windows 10 PCs. Is this for real?

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You becha, go run Windows Update without delay. This goes for everybody with a PC running Windows. The bulletin lays it all out for you, anyone running Windows is at risk (and Windows 7 computers won’t get patched). Microsoft has also issued a security update bulletin as part of its “Patch Tuesday” cycle of monthly updates to Windows. I can’t stress enough, this warning is for real and the vulnerabilities are being actively exploited.

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It’s not that hackers want the personal data of everyday consumers, although that’s an added bonus. The reality is that hackers build networks of ‘zombie’ computers that they’ve taken over to perform their nefarious deeds. Using your computer’s CPU and internet connection along with thousands of other people’s computers, hackers can instigate massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks against government or business servers. Most folks only notice that their computer is slower than it used to be, and expect that as computers age, they get slower.

Once a hacker has control of your computer, they can make it do just about anything. Do you really want your computer under someone else’s control? Also, this vulnerability was only recently discovered and patched, it’s been out there for quite awhile – ready to be exploited. So update your Windows PC now, please!

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When you run Windows Update, the update may run automatically, or you may have to click an additional download button. Some systems require this, some don’t. And for this update, you’ll also have to restart your computer when the update is complete.

The restart will also take an extra minute or so, as there are files being updated during the restart. Just be patient and wait for the login screen to re-appear. Then, login and continue using your computer normally. You have taken the essential and basic step to keeping your computer and your personal data safe – keeping the operating system up-to-date.

While you’re doing this, you should also check for and update any other installed software. Some will have a “Check for updates” menu item on their Help menu. Google Chrome and Firefox inexplicably put the update feature on their Help > About page which you have to open to kick off any pending updates.

Hopefully if you’ve read this far, you’ve already kicked off the update and are reading this while waiting for it to complete. If you haven’t started yet, stop reading and go update!

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