until next week because of some new virus or something called a “WMF Exploit”.
Is it really that serious? Do I really need to stay off line? I’m not sure I
can handle the withdrawal from being disconnected that long!
Yes, it’s serious.
But, no, you don’t have to go through withdrawal. In an unprecedented move,
Microsoft has released the patch for the problem ahead of schedule.
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If you have Automatic Updates enabled, as most of you should, then
you may already have the fix. It appeared on my machines this morning.
should immediately visit the Microsoft page …”
If you don’t have automatic updates enabled, the you should immediately
visit the Microsoft page that includes the update for what’s been called the
WMF Exploit here. You’ll find downloadable patches to install on your
machine that will remove the vulnerability.
Well, most of you will.
At this writing, there is no plan for a fix for Windows 95, 98 or Windows
Me, because, as explained in the FAQ section of that page, the issue doesn’t
exist, or isn’t as severe, on those operating systems.
So why is this such a big deal?
Because, in a nutshell, simply displaying a picture that was crafted by some
malicious individual could result in your machine being infected with viruses,
spyware or worse. (“WMF” stands for “Windows MetaFile”, one of the many
different formats for computer images.) Simply looking at a picture. In fact,
if you have tools such as Google’s desktop installed, it may “look at
the picture”, perhaps something attached to a questionable email you received,
as part of it’s work, and cause you to be infected, even if you didn’t actually
look at it yourself.
While there are few reports of actual damage having been done due to this
vulnerability, the potential is certainly there, and you should make sure that
you’ve updated as soon as possible.
And as always: