[TECnewhw] Windows & Office patches

Trevor Cordes trevor at tecnopolis.ca
Thu Sep 4 18:06:33 CDT 2003

The computer virus/worm/hacker situation is worse than ever right now,
and keeps deteriorating.  I have been fixing about 2 machines a week that
are coming in infested with viruses.  This is an unprecedented rate
based on my past experience.

I want to remind my customers of these very very important things:

1. Make sure you have anti-virus software (preferably Norton) installed
and that it is running and has its "auto-protect on".

2. Make sure the virus definitions are up to date: that means less than
a few days old.  If Norton pops up saying you have to pay $20 each year,
then you must do it to stay protected.

IMPORTANT: Anti-virus software alone doesn't fully protect you.  It is
equally important to keep Windows and Office fully patched.

3. Microsoft just yesterday released a slew of patches that I feel are
extremely important to apply.  Most of you probably update your Windows
patches as they pop up (if using Windows XP), but many of you ignore the
Office patches which are just as important (assuming you use Microsoft
Office).  To apply Office (or Word, or MS Works) patches, click on the
"Office Update" link at the top of the Windows Update main screen.  Also
remember that the auto-patching that Windows XP does usually only
includes the "critical" updates, so it is wise to manually run Windows
Update periodically (once a month or so) to install the other important
but non-critical updates.

IMPORTANT: If you are using an illegit copy of Windows or Office, or
using one copy in an illegal manner (ie: on multiple computers), running
the updates may either fail or render your copy unusable.  This is the
main reason I advocate buying legitimate copies of all software. 
Running unpatched software is as bad as not running an anti-virus
program.  Remember, cleaning up an infected system could cost you a lot
of time, money and possibly lost data.  In fact, just one clean-up
instance could in total cost you more than the price of just buying the
software.  Is it worth it?

4. If you are using Windows XP, make sure you have the XP Firewall
turned on.  Go to Start -> Control Panel -> Network Connections ->
right-click on Local Area Connection (may say "dial-up" for
non-highspeed internet customers) -> click Properties -> Advanced tab ->
make sure the "Protect" box is checked.

NOTE: If your machine is behind a firewall (either a Tecnopolis Firewall
or one of the little mini-firewall/router boxes) then do NOT turn on the
firewall unless you know what you are doing.

NOTE: Turning on the firewall may block peer-to-peer and file-sharing
programs like KaZaa.  You can tweak the firewall to still allow those
programs but that is beyond the scope of this document.  P2P programs
are a major source of viruses and hack-ins, as well as new industry
legal action, so it is always advised not to use them at all.

If you have any questions feel free to email or call.

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