Windows XP makes it very easy to keep updated as you can automatically let Windows XP periodically check for updates for you. Even if you don’t use automatic update you can visit http://www.windowsupdate.com to let Microsoft automatically scan your operating system for the latest updates needed.
However, the other HUGE HOLE in your security armor is your applications. Email, games, databases, word processors, utilities and etc. Each of these programs are potential security hazards and if your software vendor updates them you should most likely update your software as well.
Not only for the sake of security should you updated your software but often times software is updated to add new features and/or correct bugs in previous versions.
Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post writes Unfortunately, virus writers and other online vandals can find these separate programs just as tempting a target for attack as XP or OS X: They can exploit a flaw in such Internet-connected programs as a Web browser, a mail program or a music jukebox to sneak their own malicious software onto a computer. So you can’t neglect security fixes for those programs, any more than you can skip feeding your pets or watering the lawn.
But most of these programs don’t make it easy enough to do the right thing. Consider how Firefox and the Windows versions of Apple’s iTunes and RealNetworks’ RealPlayer– all widely used, all the subject of recent security updates — attempt to help users keep current with bug fixes.
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