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Windows 7: RSAC: Can Windows Updates Protect Against Malware?

26 Feb 2014   #1
A Guy

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium x64 SP1
RSAC: Can Windows Updates Protect Against Malware?

Are your PCs all configured for Automatic Update? If not, you're risking more than just missing out on the latest version of Internet Explorer. At the RSA Conference, Simon Edwards, Technical Director of London-based Dennis Technology Labs, presented the results of a study showing that keeping Windows up to date seriously improves your security.

"I'm the same as everyone else," said Edwards. "I write articles about security and always give the same advice; install antivirus and update your system. But what's that update worth? With this test we've quantified it."

Edwards noted that one obvious way to get even more protection is to patch significant third-party tools like Flash, Adobe, and Java. "If you kept those things up to date," said Edwards, "the graph of improved protection in a patched system would be a lot higher. The bad guys specifically use toolkits that attack vulnerabilities in those third-party apps." He noted that using a patch manager like Secunia Personal Software Inspector 3.0 can help.

A Guy

My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Feb 2014   #2
King Arthur

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

My personal experience is that automatic updates are ultimately useless if the user of that computer doesn't practice safe internet use. My father has his computer set to automatically update Windows but he still manages to get malware on a common basis, though these are fortunately usually minor ones and easy to scrub.

Plus, automatic updates can wreck havoc in their own way by introducing new bugs or simply changing something when I least expect it. I personally have all my personal computers and VMs set to manual update on everything, except for AV definitions which are on auto for practical reasons, and just devote a day every several months to one big update marathon after quickly checking if the updates are known to cause problems.

One situation that I do find automatic updates to be useful in every respect however is the home server (running Windows Home Server 2011) we have on the LAN for backup and NAS purposes. The server seldom has the administrator (me) touch it directly, so I have that server set to auto-update for sake of convenience since there's really nothing on there that auto-updates can mess with.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 RSAC: Can Windows Updates Protect Against Malware?

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