Microsoft issues update on latest security patches
By JIM BROOKS
world of computer security seems to move at a dizzying pace at times,
making it difficult for anyone to keep score of the latest updates.
this month, Microsoft scurried to issue a software patch for a security
problem for its Internet Explorer 5.01,5.5 and 6.0 Web browsers.
Unfortunately, this patch created another problem for users of Internet
Explorer 6.0, who experienced problems accessing subscription or
password-protected Web sites. Microsoft issued a "hot fix"
that, in effect, patched the patch.
Microsoft has simplified matters by releasing a new patch that fixes
all of the security problems without causing new ones. The details
can be found in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS03-004.
who went searching for the update later I wrote about in an earlier
column told me they could not find the patch on the Microsoft Web
site -- and for good reason. By the time my column was in print,
Microsoft had moved the link off their home page.
easiest way to determine what updates your Microsoft Windows operating
system (or other Microsoft software) may require is to use Microsoft's
Windows Update service at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com. To
access the site, you'll need to be running Internet Explorer version
4.0 or higher.
Windows Update site will scan your system for Microsoft products
and alert you to the latest software updates. On my visit during
my research for this column, I learned my version of Windows needed
a number of security updates. In just a few minutes, the updates
were automatically downloaded and installed.
Update will also alert you to updates that aren't so critical to
security or the performance of your computer. For example, there
were 42 updates listed that I opted not to install, most of which
were foreign language support files. A menu tree divides the updates
into three areas: one for critical updates; one for upgrade and
support files for your version of Windows; and an area for updated
drivers for your computer hardware.
no cost to use Windows Update, though you'll need to have a validly
licensed version of Windows. It's the easiest way to keep on top
of updates for your Microsoft software.
BUY. Search engine Google.com has purchased Blogger.com, one
of the pioneer online journal "blog" sites that have become
all the rage.
word "blog" is an abbreviation for "Web log,"
which refers to a Web site that functions as a publicly available
online journal. Blogging has been growing in popularity for several
years. In the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, blogs
became a way for users to share their outrage, pain and collectively
express their grief.
then, blogging since has become more of a mainstream phenomenon.
Journalists were quick to see that blogs offered a new way to interact
with readers, sources and contacts.
at MSNBC, the Christian Science Monitor, NBC TV weatherman Al Roker
and even humorist Dave Barry are among those who have jumped on
the blogging bandwagon. Even I have joined the blogging revolution
by starting my own blog at www.blurty.com/users/netwriter.
purchase of Blogger.com follows other expansions of the search engine's
services. Last year it launched Google News and Froogle Google,
a shopping comparison site, in efforts to broaden its appeal. Privately
held Google has grown to become one of the Web's top search engines.
was launched in 1999, and boasts more than 1 million registered
users. Blogger offers two versions of its service: a free, ad-supported
version, and a $35 version for commercial users.
move to add blogging tools follows a similar one by Terra Lycos
earlier this month. Terra Lycos is the company that owns the Lycos
search engine and the Tripod free Web-publishing service.
blogging tools, called the "Blog Builder," were given
to users of the Tripod Web-publishing service.
more information, visit www.blogger.com or http://blog.tripod.lycos.com/.
ADDS ADS. Since the Dot-Com boom went bust in early 2000, the
America Online service has seen its advertising revenues fall dramatically.
an effort to try to gain back some of those revenues, AOL has --
for the first time -- started to place advertising on the service's
have been underway for some weeks, and expect to see new pages debut
in March with permanent ad spots. AOL has been reluctant to put
ads on its Welcome Screen. Advertisers have sought to put ads on
the Welcome Screen because it would nearly guarantee exposure to
all of AOL's 35 million users.
users accept the new ads? Time will tell. AOL has been seeking sources
for new ad revenue after it banned third-party pop-up advertising
on its service last year. AOL will also be offering its advertisers
spots on its main content channel pages, and new spots on its search
engine results pages.
ATTACK. A hacker who gained access to millions of credit card
numbers has prompted banks to cancel thousands of customer's credit
and debit card accounts.
8 million accounts were illegally accessed, including 3.4 million
Visa, 2.4 million American Express, and 2.2 million MasterCard accounts.
The hacker gained access to the accounts through a third-party merchant
Data Processors International told the Associated Press last week
"an unauthorized outside party" broke into its computer
system and accessed the account information. The company handles
transactions for catalog companies and other sellers. How long the
hacker accessed the firm's records wasn't released.
far, at least two banks have canceled customers' cards and issued
Financial Group of Rhode Island and Pittsburgh-based PNC Bank canceled
8,800 and 16,000 cards respectively last week after the security
breach was revealed.
Q&A SECTION. Your questions about computers or the Internet
are needed for a new questions-and-answer section that is being
added to this column. While I can't guarantee I'll know the answers,
I can guarantee that I'll try to find someone who can address your
problem or query.
are if you have a question, you aren't the only person who seeks
the same answer. Send your questions and suggestions to the e-mail
address at the end of this column.