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Microsoft Security Patches

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

What is a Software Patch?

A software patch is a revision to an original release that is intended to fix bugs, or flaws, as well as improve usability and performance. While software developers work hard to adequately test and rework their software before it is released, as with anything, it is very difficult to put out a perfect product. Especially in the case of large and complex software packages like Microsoft’s Windows and its components, Internet Explorer and Office, many problems are not realized until the product is put to the real test by being publicly released. Because consumers are such a massive and diverse group, it is almost impossible to predict all of the potential issues before a product is released.

Microsoft Security Patch

Recently Microsoft has included a feature in its software products that will send an error report when a program crashes unexpectedly. This provides programmers with a better idea of the types of problems that customers are experiencing. An error report often includes information about a user’s system as well as the where in the program code the error was met, in order to figure out how and why the problem occurred. This input is very valuable because it allows developers to see what a customer sees and construct patches around the actual problems that they are experiencing.

Why are Security Patches Necessary?

Security patches are necessary to fix unforeseen compatibility and functionality issues as well as security loopholes. These arise from flaws in the software that are exploited by cyber criminals in order to hijack or damage systems. Loopholes can be particularly dangerous if they allow an attacker to gain control of a system and execute commands, access data and pose as the operator of the system. Exploiting a widespread vulnerability allows attackers to monitor the sensitive data that passes through personal, corporate and government computer systems, as well as amass networks of zombie computers, called botnets, which can be used to launch cyber attacks against.

In order to protect consumers as well as improve its products, Microsoft releases patches in a couple of different ways. Microsoft fixes vulnerabilities in its software on a monthly basis and also releases updates in larger groups, called Service Packs. Users can assure that their system is protected against the latest vulnerabilities by activating automatic updates, which will download and install the security patches as soon as they are released. To check if you are updated with the latest security patches from Microsoft, please see Microsoft Windows Update.

Enhanced Windows Security

Secure IE Browser Security is the only browser on the market today that was specifically designed with Internet users’ security as the primary concern. Secure IE utilizes multiple lines of defense to protect you from computer fraud and other malicious threats.

Secure IE’s unique approach to online security:

  • Integrated McAfee Site Advisor warns of dangerous Web sites, places safety ratings alongside search results, and provides a site’s safety rating upon request.
  • Seal up security gaps with our automatic security tune-up.
  • Stop Spyware (which is often used in computer fraud) at the point of entry with out exclusive Browser Shield.
  • Automatically blocks malicious ActiveX, which hackers and identity thieves will use to gain entrance to your PC and commit computer fraud.
  • Block Pop-ups, including Windows Messenger pop-ups.
  • One click access to security zones, which allow you to designate which websites get certain privileges.
  • Intercepts Malicious File Downloads and scans for viruses (requires virus-scanning software).
  • Stay one step ahead of hackers with built in auto-updates.

For more information, see Secure IE 2007.

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