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Windows 8 : Automatic Updates as Security - Understanding Automatic Updates

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3/5/2015 12:57:53 AM

Many people are afraid of Windows Update. They are afraid that the updates will break something on their system which they can fix. It is certainly true that any change with your system could create a problem. But it is not very probable that to follow updates will pose any significant problems - certainly nowhere close to as many problems as you expose yourselves to by not following updates. Moreover, Windows Update creates points of restoration before installing many updates (but not for all the updates), thus you have the additional degree of safety to be able to reconstitute the system at a point before the update.

Others fear that Microsoft exploits them in a certain manner by the automatic updates. It is not the manner that functions. Microsoft has tens of million customers and tens of billion dollars. It does not need to exploit whoever to be succeeded. The desperate people (and companies) make things desperate and exploitive. Microsoft is as far from all desperate which you can become.

Microsoft is also a publicly held company on the stock exchange, which means it is subject to constant scrutiny. Such companies are not the ones that distribute malware. Most malware comes from e-mail attachments and free programs from unknown sources. When it comes to knowing who to trust and not to trust, large publicly-held companies are by far the most trustworthy, if for no other reason than that they can’t afford to be untrustworthy. A third common fear of automatic updates centers around the question “What’s this going to cost me?” The answer to that is simple: Absolutely nothing. This brings us to the difference between updates and upgrades.

Some Hacking Lingo
The hacking world is replete with its own terminology. A zero day exploit is one that exploits a problem in software before the software vulnerability is known by the software company. A blackhat is a bad guy who has sufficient technical knowledge to find and publish exploits. A script kiddie is someone (sometimes simply an inexperienced programmer who doesn’t have enough skills to create or discover his own exploits) who runs scripts and malware created by more experienced hackers. A whitehat is one of the good guys — the security experts who find ways to thwart the efforts of blackhats and script kiddies.

Updates versus upgrades

People often assume that the terms update and upgrade are synonymous. We certainly use the terms interchangeably in common parlance. But in the computer world, there is a big difference. Upgrades usually cost money and involve a fair amount of work. For example, upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8 will cost you some money and take some time. You might even need to hire someone to verify that the upgrade will work and do the upgrade for you.

Updates are much different. Updates are small, simple, and free of charge. Some people turn off automatic updates because they’re afraid they’ll get some mysterious bill for something they downloaded automatically without realizing it. That will not happen. Turning on and using automatic updates will not cost you a penny.

Why updates are important

Automatic updates are an important part of your overall security. Many forms of malware, especially viruses and worms, operate by exploiting previously unnoticed flaws in programs. The term exploit, when used as a noun in computer science, refers to any piece of software that can take advantage of some vulnerability in a program in order to gain unauthorized access to a computer.

Some hackers actually publish, on the Internet, exploits they discover, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. The bad thing is that other hackers can use the exploit to conjure up their own malware, causing a whole slew of new security threats. The good thing is that the good guys can quickly create security patches to prevent the exploits from doing their nefarious deeds. Automatic updates keep your system current with security patches that fix the flaws that malware programs attempt to exploit.

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