“Wormable” Microsoft flaw: What you need to do
Microsoft has announced a major security flaw in its Windows software that rivals the WannaCry worm that infected thousands of devices in 2017. Microsoft warns that this vulnerability is especially dangerous because it requires no user interaction. In other words, once one device is infected it can quickly spread to another vulnerable computer on its own. While there is no evidence that the flaw has been exploited at this time, Microsoft believes that it is “highly likely” that it will be.
This new vulnerability is a part of the “remote desktop services” used by devices running Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows XP, and Windows 2003. Windows 8 and 10 users are not affected. However, many Microsoft users are running older versions of Windows and need to take action immediately.
I knew this flaw was a serious issue when my husband’s co-workers ALL received updates to Windows 10 whether they wanted it or not. Be sure you save any data, files you use on your laptop to a thumb drive or a cloud option before you update your operating system.
How to update your devices
If your device is running Microsoft 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2008 and you have enabled automatic updates, your device will update automatically. You can ensure your device is running the most up-to-date software by going to the Update and Security page of the Control Panel or Windows Settings. If you do not have auto update enabled, you can also update your device in these settings.
This vulnerability is so serious that Microsoft has released updates for Windows XP and Windows 2003—operating systems that it stopped supporting years ago. It is strongly recommended that you upgrade to a more recent operating system. These older programs do not receive regular updates from Microsoft, leaving your device vulnerable at all times.
How to protect yourself going forward
The major area where cybersecurity experts and regular computer users differ is on running up-to-date software. Nine out of ten experts will tell you a key to keeping your devices secure is updating them as soon as possible. However, most consumers put off updating their devices and programs.
To make the process more streamlined, you should enable auto updates on all programs that allow it. You may want to select an auto update at a time you won’t be using your computer but may have it on. After missing a few updates, we set my home laptop to update on turning off the computer. You can’t be in a hurry when you reboot the computer as the downloads will now have to install. This step has kept me current.
You may want to contact your local IT support – or your nearest millennial to set automatic updates.
While you are setting auto updates for your Windows devices, you should review the update settings on other programs installed on your device as well. For example, if you use any Adobe programs they can be set to download updates automatically. Most Internet browsers will automatically alert you when updates are available so you can install them right away.
Keeping your devices completely up to date is one of the most beneficial cybersecurity actions you can take. That applies to the operating system, applications, programs, and browsers on your computer, smartphone, and tablets. Turning on auto updates allows you to rest assured that your devices are protected from security flaws.
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