Too busy to update your flawed software? Microsoft Corp is considering whether Microsoft, flaws and all, should automatically do it for you. \nMicrosoft said Tuesday it is considering whether to sign up users of future versions of its Windows operating system to a service that automatically downloads and installs software fixes on their computers unless customers specifically opt out of the service. \nNo decisions have been made, but it is one way the company is considering tightening computer security in the future, after the Blaster worm and other variants infected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world since Aug. 11. \n"We think it would help the safety of a lot more customers if they had the benefit of the patching there [automatically]," said Steve Lipner, director of security engineering strategy. The service would be for home users and small businesses, he said. \nMicrosoft has also launched a "Protect Your PC" campaign to suggest ways consumers can guard their computers against attacks such as the "Blaster" worm, which has infected hundreds of thousands of computers since Aug. 11. \nThe new campaign comes after the virus, also dubbed "LovSan," exploited a flaw in most versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system and infected computers around the world -- slowing networks and causing frequent rebooting. \nOther virus variants, including one that attempts to download the patch for vulnerable computers, are also working their way through computer networks, further snarling traffic. \nAlthough Microsoft had posted a fix for the flaw on July 16, tens of millions of people waited until the past several days to install it, Microsoft said, based on downloads from its Windows Update Web site. \nThe company decided to accelerate plans to promote security by launching its Protect Your PC campaign, said Amy Carroll, director of product management for Microsoft's Security Business Unit. \nStarting on Tuesday, the company bought ads in several news-papers telling customers about setting up firewalls, visiting Microsoft's update site and buying anti-virus software. \nIt has also set up a new Web site -- http://www.microsoft.com/protect -- that offers step-by-step instructions for turning on existing security tools in Windows XP and suggestions for buying anti-virus protection. Microsoft is working on a video as well to post on its Web site. \nIn the meantime, it is also encouraging users of the most current versions of Windows to sign up for Automatic Update, in which Microsoft automatically downloads and installs software fixes for them. \nAutomatic updates -- available for customers with Windows XP -- are one way consumers can keep their software patched, said Craig Schmugar, with Network Associates' anti-virus emergency response team. But many may resist that option for a variety of reasons, he said. \nNetwork administrators in large companies may be reluctant to allow automatic downloads, because the downloads may interfere with how other corporate programs work, he said. Ideally, they want to be able to test it before widely deploying it across their business, he said. \nThat can also happen on a consumer level, he said. \nBut "they're likely to put their trust in Microsoft to deploy the patches," he said -- unless something happens in which a patch causes other applications to fail. That would be "a big hit to the confidence level."
MORE YOUNG PATIENTS: The focus is turning from Europe to the US, where the number of known infections reached almost 86,000, more than in China British Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday became the first major world leader to test positive for COVID-19 as Spain recorded a record number of deaths from the pandemic that is threatening millions worldwide. In a grim milestone, the US overtook China as the nation with the most cases, while seeing an unprecedented amount of newly unemployed amid fears of a global economic meltdown. Africa’s economic powerhouse, South Africa, became the latest nation on the continent to start life under lockdown as it reported its first COVID-19 deaths. Johnson said that he had developed mild symptoms over the previous 24 hours and was self-isolating
OUTBREAK CURTAILED: Restrictions on residents heading out of Wuhan are to remain in place until April 8, when the city’s airport is to reopen for domestic flights Trains packed with thousands of passengers yesterday arrived in Wuhan as the Chinese city that was ground zero for the global COVID-19 pandemic partly reopened after months in lockdown. Returnees, some wearing two masks, latex gloves and protective suits, were greeted at the railway station by staff in similar gear — a reminder that while the city is emerging from isolation, it is still far from normal. “As the train neared Wuhan, my child and I were both very excited,” a 36-year-old woman told reporters. She and her daughter had been away from her husband for nearly 10 weeks. “It felt like the
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 15 new cases of COVID-19, most of whom had studied or worked in the US or the UK before returning home, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 267. The 267 cases include 30 people who have been discharged from quarantine facilities and two deaths, CECC data showed. The new cases were six women and nine men, all Taiwanese, who had returned from the US, the UK, the Philippines, Australia or central America between March 15 and Wednesday, the data showed. With most of the nation’s cases being imported, home quarantine is a second
At least 25 people were yesterday killed in an attack on a Sikh-Hindu temple in Afghanistan’s capital where worshippers were offering morning prayers, the latest assault claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group. The incident came as the nation reels from a US$1 billion cut in US aid and struggles with a raging insurgency, political deadlock and rising coronavirus cases. Witness Raju Singh Sonny told reporters that a man dressed in a police uniform burst into the temple in central Kabul, shot a guard and started attacking worshippers in the main hall. “Several other attackers also entered the building and they were going