If you are an avid Windows OS user, you have probably heard of Windows Patch Tuesday, but what is it exactly?
In this article, I will break down what Windows Patch Tuesday is and give you a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about Microsoft’s monthly updates.
Microsoft made its fresh new operating system available in early October, in limited capacity. But now, having gathered the required intelligence and taking note of the major bugs, the company is now confident enough to push the OS to more PCs.
What is Patch Tuesday?
Patch Tuesday is the name given to Microsoft’s monthly security update release. It usually falls on the second Tuesday of each month, hence the name “Patch Tuesday.” Microsoft releases these security updates to address vulnerabilities that have been discovered in its software products. These vulnerabilities can be exploited by hackers to gain access to your computer.
It includes patches for both Windows operating systems and other Microsoft products. Patch Tuesday is an important event for businesses and individuals alike, as it is one of the few occasions Microsoft releases security updates.
Additionally, Patch Tuesday is highly anticipated by cybercriminals. It is not uncommon for hackers to release malware shortly after Patch Tuesday, in an effort to target unpatched systems and take advantage of the window of opportunity before IT administrators install the updates.
Patch Tuesday can be a bit overwhelming, so I have put together a comprehensive guide on everything you need to know.
What happens on Patch Tuesday?
Every month Microsoft releases a number of security patches covering vulnerabilities in its own products as well as third-party software like Adobe Reader, Java, Google Chrome, or Oracle MySQL Server. The update includes a variety of patches, which can be anything from critical security updates to minor bug fixes. However, the majority of patches released each month are for Windows operating systems. The updates are cumulative, meaning they include all previously released patches.
Microsoft also provides additional information about each patch such as what it does exactly and which versions are affected through Knowledge Base (KB) articles. Most importantly, this detailed list includes all known issues with each update so users know exactly what they are getting into when installing them.
Who should install these updates?
Patch Tuesday is important for all users, especially businesses and individuals running Windows operating systems. However, it is worth noting that not all patches are created equal. Some are more critical than others, so it is important to prioritize them accordingly.
Organizations should install all security patches as soon as possible, as they help mitigate the risk of cyberattacks. However, it is important to test them in a lab environment before deploying them into production. This is especially true for patches that may cause compatibility issues with existing applications or hardware.
Individuals should also install all security patches included in Patch Tuesday to keep your system secure, but you should take extra precautions to stay protected. This means regularly installing antivirus and anti-malware software along with using a firewall. You should also consider uninstalling or disabling software you do not need, such as Java, and Adobe Flash Player, as these pose a high risk for exploitation. And, of course, always create backups of your important files.
What happens if I do not install the Patch Tuesday?
If you do not install the patches on Patch Tuesday, then it leaves your system vulnerable to cyberattacks. At this point, hackers know Microsoft will not issue any critical fixes until the next Patch Tuesday and they all exploit any vulnerabilities they find in the meantime.
There are also legal implications to not installing the updates. If an update is available, Microsoft requires users of supported versions to install it within a specific time frame. If you do not, then your version of Windows becomes unsupported which can lead to security risks down the road.
Should I install them right away?
It is understandable if you prefer delayed updates because the process can be time-consuming. If you want to install them right away, then make sure your system is connected to a reliable source of power and running off a nonstop UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) in case something goes wrong.
This also applies to workstations, as some patches have been known to cause issues with laptops. This can prevent you from booting your computer or cause your system to restart without any warning.
If you are running a Home edition of Windows, then it is important to consider compatibility before installing them at all. Many updates require a reboot and this may lead to the loss of unsaved data.
Patch Tuesday is a critical part of the Windows security process, but it is not perfect. It is important to weigh the risks and benefits before deciding whether or not to install them.
Problems with Patch Tuesday
While the Patch Tuesday concept is a good one, it is not perfect. One of the main issues is that Microsoft often releases security patches without warning. This means that users may not be able to plan for them and some may even choose to ignore them because of this.
Another issue is that some patches can be quite disruptive. They can cause stability issues as well as incompatibility with hardware and software. In several cases, the company had to pull an update over these kinds of problems.
There have also been a few incidents where Patch Tuesday has been exploited. In February 2014, the Flashback Trojan infected more than 550,000 computers around the world after Microsoft failed to patch a vulnerability. This was despite Patch Tuesday including a fix for this very same bug.
Also in 2014, Microsoft’s own Update Catalog website was hacked and users’ systems were compromised as a result.
How to download and install Patch Tuesday?
If you are an individual, then the best way to download and install Patch Tuesday is through Windows Update. This is the default setting for most systems and it will automatically download and install any updates that are available.
You can also use the Microsoft Update Catalog website to find and download specific updates. The website is a searchable catalog of all updates released by Microsoft. It allows you to download them without automatically installing them on your computer.
You can also visit the Microsoft Update page, use Windows Server Update Services, or use WSUS Offline Update which is ideal for large deployments of computers. This site will allow you to create a bootable USB drive with all updates included, so they will be available even when disconnected from the Internet.
What is new in the latest Patch Tuesday?
This past month, Microsoft released a total of 83 security patches for its products. Out of these, 23 are rated as critical, 59 as important, and one as moderate.
George Cox is the owner of Computer Diagnostics and Repair (CDAR). He can be reached at 346-4217.