When Patch Tuesday is patchless

Patch Tuesday came and critical patches were few and far between. What should you do? Use this time to get other products up-to-date. This checklist helps you get started.

The second Tuesday of each month is Microsoft's official day for rolling out that month's patches -- security fixes, updates, and other upgrades to Windows and other Microsoft products. But what if Patch Tuesday comes and goes, and there's nothing new under the sun from Redmond? In that case, there are still things you can do that'll help keep you up to speed.

  1. Check for Microsoft patches that aren't released through Windows Update. If you're running Microsoft server products like Exchange and SQL Server, the updates for those products aren't released through Windows Update -- you'll need to go to the sites for those products and check for updates by hand. This may seem cumbersome, but it's by design: since many people may depend on such services, it's best to stop and upgrade them only after the people using them get sufficient notice. Having this happen automatically would be disruptive at best! Since not everyone who runs Windows runs them, notification for updates to those products is completely separate by design, too.

  2. Check for Office updates if you're running Microsoft Office. Updates to Office 2003 are provided through Microsoft Update, but not for other versions of Office. Those will need to be checked for by hand, through the Office Update site.

  3. Check for updates to non-Microsoft applications. It's almost a given that there would be programs from vendors other than Microsoft in your organization. Such updates would fall into roughly five categories:
    1. Regular programs that don't have their own updaters. Some third-party vendors such as Symantec have an update mechanism for their programs, but some don't -- especially commonly-used freeware applications that need to be rolled out by hand.
    2. Device drivers not found through Windows Update, such as on-board RAID controllers.
    3. Middleware, such as MSDAC (used for database access).
    4. Support applications, such as Java or Flash.
    5. Codecs, like the QuickTime codec (and its own support applications).

About the author:
Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter.

This tip originally appeared on SearchWindowsSecurity.com.

This was first published in February 2009

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