Seems like this will be more or less a weekly trend from here on out. Microsoft has announced that they’ve discovered some more holes in their popular Internet Explorer and MS Office software packages. Malicious code in an email or from a webpage could be used to run programs, alter data, or destroy it outright. They’re recommending you download patches for your system from Microsoft’s TechNet website though I suspect it’ll also be available through their Windows Update site as well.
This is a good time to remind folks that if you spend any amount of time connected to the Internet you should make a point of visiting the Windows Update site on a regular basis, at least once a month, and download all of the patches from the critical updates section at the very least. This is especially true if you have a broadband connection and leave your PC on all the time. If you have a broadband connection you really don’t have any excuse not to do this as the download time will be minimal and if you’re using one of the newer versions of the OS, such as XP, you can even set it up to download the critical updates automatically and tell you when they’re ready to install. If you don’t take advantage of anything else on the Windows Update site, this is one thing you should take advantage of. Keeping plugs in any known holes in Microsoft products is the best way to help ensure you’ll be less likely to be victimized through one of them.
While you’re at it, buy a decent virus scanning package like Norton or McAfee, install it, and make certain you set it to automatically download updates as well. Here’s a secret, you don’t always have to buy the latest versions to ensure you’re protected. Places like Most Significant Bits will sell you Norton Antivirus 2002 for $12.95 whereas a new copy of 2003 will run you $49.95. The virus subscription is good for a year from the purchase date and they’ll keep updating DAT files for it for several years. As long as it’s compatible with whichever OS you’re running (2002 works on all versions of Windows whereas 2001 won’t work under Windows XP) you should be golden. The important thing is that you have something semi-recent in place and it’s updated with the latest patches and DAT files. An ounce of prevention is definitely worth 4 hours of cure later when it comes to computing.