Marshall Adult Education




TECH TIP – Viruses and Updates

There’s an interesting phenomenon about viruses that you should be aware of.  How do they come about?  Who is smart enough to write them?  You may be surprised at the answer.  Read on!


Here’s the scenario.  Some really brainy person – not a roguish hacker – but a legitimate computer geek, discovers a hole or insecurity in a Windows operating system and notifies Microsoft about his discovery.  Microsoft says, “Hmm, interesting, we’ll write a security patch to close the hole.”  They then announce to the world that a security hole has been found and that Windows OS users should download a patch and install it on their computer.


It is at this point that the hackers get to work.  They’re not all that smart – they didn’t find the security hole – but they are smart enough to write a virus that takes advantage of it..  So they write a virus and they send it out!


Meanwhile, Windows OS computer users don’t see the urgency to download the security patch and you know what happens next.  They get the virus.  According to the experts, only half of the Windows users download a security patch within the first 3 weeks. 


Here is an interesting article called “Biography of a Worm.”,aid,117808,pg,1,RSS,RSS,00.asp

It tracks the history of the Sasser worm that circulated the internet last May.  It’s a long article (several pages) but really describes how this process works.  (It’s great bedtime reading!)

Did you know that an 18 year old from Germany wrote the Sasser Worm?


So what’s a person to do?  Well, the solution is quite simple – turn on Automatic Updates.  The Automatic Updates is located in the Control Panels.  There are several options to choose from including the option of checking for updates everyday or once a week at a specified time. 


One more item:  If you are using Windows XP operating system, there is a huge and impressive update called Windows XP Service Pack 2.  It came out in August.  You definitely want to get this update – It includes many important updates.  I earlier wrote about it and suggested to wait a couple months before you take the plunge and install the update.  There are frequently bugs in new updates – especially big updates - but many of these have now been worked out.  There are still a few.


Here's the Top Ten reasons to download XP Service Pack 2:

Or, you can read a very comprehensive article about Windows XP Service Pack 2 here – it’s long – very long (for geeks only!).



There is no Automatic Updates for Windows 98.  There is, however, a Windows Critical Update Notification Utility for 98 (and 98SE) users – check out this link:


For Windows ME, check out this link:


For Windows 2000 or XP, check out this link: