Every moment your computer is on, a nearly undocumented Microsoft file — WindowsUpdate.log — maintains a record of your system’s patching activity.
Making sense of the information in this update log can be a challenge, but I’ll show you how you can use it to learn the inside story of your PC’s update history.
If you previously applied a killbit for an ActiveX flaw in IE, rest easy — there’s no need to undo the killbit prior to installing the full patch that Microsoft’s released.
XP systems with the killbit installed will not be offered the patch automatically, but you can download and install the update manually without having to make any other changes, if you like.
If you applied last week’s workaround for an IE ActiveX vulnerability, you’ll have to undo that change to apply the cumulative update of ActiveX killbits Microsoft released this week.
Anyone who applied the Fix-it workaround won’t see the cumulative patch among the updates being offered to XP systems because the workaround removed the affected Registry keys.
A malware attack masquerading as a video file targets Windows XP and Server 2003 users who visit infected sites.
Microsoft has issued a workaround for the exploit and made it available on the company’s support site, although it’s uncertain when a patch for the vulnerability will be available.
All Windows users need to be aware that Microsoft never links to downloads in its e-mail messages, but always requires a visit to a security bulletin landing page to download a patch.
If you receive an e-mail containing a link promising to upgrade Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express, you should simply delete the message to avoid being nailed by a Trojan horse.
Any service pack can be problematic, but Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) provides some extra-special challenges.
Vista SP1 offered clear benefits, including better performance, but with Vista’s second service pack you may just want to hold out for Windows 7’s release later this year.
The hacker scripts try to infect site visitors and then attempt to use their compromised PCs to spread the infection to yet other sites.
Security updates for all versions of Internet Explorer have been released this week, although Microsoft rates as “Critical” only the patches for IE 8 (on all versions of Windows) and IE 7 (Vista SP2).
Version 8 of Microsoft’s browser is now being included in automatic Windows updates for all users, so be sure to uncheck the IE 8 option if for any reason you wish to postpone upgrading from IE 7 to IE 8.
You may already have been offered version 8 of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser via Windows’ built-in Automatic Updates routine, but you should be aware that some Web sites don’t work with the new release.
In my testing, IE 8’s security and compatibility settings cause problems with some sites, and XP users must first uninstall SP3 in order to remove the latest build of IE.
If you followed the instructions in my May 21
to build new systems without installing the trouble-prone Windows Genuine Advantage app, you may want to patch your PC using something other than Windows Update, which offers again and again to install WGA.
My favorite third-party software update service is currently the Shavlik Patch Google Gadget, although Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector is a worthwhile alternative.