The first Tuesday of every month is commonly known as “Patch Tuesday” in the IT industry, and is called thus because Microsoft issues its monthly batch of patches and security fixes to its operating systems and applications, most notably Internet Explorer. February’s selection features a whopping 31 CVEs (common vulnerabilities and exposures) that have been fixed in 4 “critical” updates and 3 “important” updates. Chief among the fixes are patches to all versions of Internet Explorer 6 through 11 to fill holes in the web browser that Microsoft anticipates being exploited in the next 30 days. Adobe also issued a fix for its Shockwave Media Player (a legacy multimedia player that may be installed on older PCs), not to be confused with Adobe Flash, which was also patched last week to combat a security hole that was actively being exploited on the internet.
What this means for you:
Depending on whether your technology is managed by an IT department, 3rd-part provider like C2, or just by you, your Windows computers may update in the next day or two, or further out if your IT department tests MS updates before patching your company’s fleet. The ones that really need to pay attention are those that manage the software updates personally, as it’s easy to forget about or ignore the Windows Update process.
Not sure if your computer’s OS needs an update? Go to Control Panels -> Windows Update and read the information presented there. It will tell you if there are any updates waiting to be applied, when your computer was last updated, and you can even see a full history of what was updated previously. You can also double-check to see how your computer is set to check and apply updates. The best choice for most non-managed computers is the default setting for Windows Update, which is to download and apply all “important” and “critical” updates automatically on a regular schedule.
If you need to check whether Adobe Flash is properly patched, you can visit http://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player.html to check what version you have installed and whether it is working properly.