Watch the Patch

June 21st, 2007

Just how important are patches to operating systems?

Im sure youve read countless articles already on how crucial updates are in keeping your PC from being possessed by programs that either mow the contents of your hard drive or juggle the lines inside your Windows registry. Holes abound in almost any program, especially in operating systems. A good example would be Microsofts Windows XP. Its considered as the Swiss cheese among all OS.

Perfectly Imperfect

No program or operating system is perfect, though. Chances are, majority of the applications that youre using need patches in order to keep itself safe and still viable. While some applications would require you to manually download the update from its manufacturers Web site, a growing number of programs are already doing these automatically. Hence, the fact that you dont get prompted for updates doesnt mean that your applications dont need them or are not downloading them.

I usually feel more secure after downloading the security updates recommended by my operating systems manufacturer. However, an unfortunate incident involving patches for Internet Explorer has made me realize that my sense of security might actually be false or misplaced.

Killer Pills

Microsoft has recently released 2 updates for its latest Web browser (IE 7). The first patch is Redmonds answer to threats from Web sites that have infected COM objects. Accessing these poisoned pages could allow third parties to access and take control of your system. The other solution that Microsoft has released for IE 7 is the patch for its property method, an internal function of the browser.

Needless to say, these patches are critical. Failure to download these updates could result into crashes or unwanted intrusions. Ironically though, installing them could also produce the same undesirable results.

Experts have warned that Vista users who installed the said updates might experience a number of problems, including a complete refusal by the browser to function altogether. The problem lies in the failure of IE to locate, use, or recognize changes in the location of the operating systems Temporary Internet Files folder.

Not Just Vista

Vista users are not the only ones who are plagued by this glitch. There are reports that Windows 2000 SP4, XP SP2, and Windows Server 2003 users have also experienced problems after installing the updates. Accessing Windows and Microsoft Update might become problematic or even impossible for them.

Im sure Microsoft is already coming up with a solution to the problem that was originally intended as the solution to a problem. Sounds confusing? Well, anybody would definitely be confused if the program that they thought would deliver them from malware actually delivered malware to them. This unfortunate event should not discourage users from religiously keeping their system updated, though. I think its safe to say that this catastrophe is just an isolated incident. Sure, there were already previous occasions where patches ended up stretching the hole that it was supposed to cover in the first place. But, as Ive already intimated earlier, no program is perfect. And that goes double for patches.

Entry Filed under: Device Drivers

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