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Update Glossary

Lavasoft has put together a basic patch-time dictionary to help demystify common phrases associated with keeping your computer and software current. Browse through it to become familiar with the basics of what you need to know to stay safe!

  • Security update/software update
    A security update is a fix for a security-related vulnerability for a certain product. A software update is a patch or fix that is used to improve a certain software product or fix a specific problem.
  • Operating system patches
    Computer system software must be regularly updated. Operating system patches are security updates that are released by the operating system vendors, like Microsoft or Apple. Vulnerabilities have been found in every major operating system. You need to patch your operating system regularly in order to keep it up-to-date, and help stay safe from viruses, spyware, malware and other online security threats.
  • Vulnerability
    A vulnerability is a weakness or flaw, allowing for exposure by an attacker, due to a product flaw. Vulnerabilities are found in operating systems, software products, and web applications, and can compromise the security of your computer. The maker of the product or application fixes these flaws as they identify them or as they become known.
  • Exploit
    A vulnerability or bug in software used to take advantage of a user's system to gain unauthorized access.
  • Zero day exploit
    A zero day exploit is a vulnerability for which exploit code has gone public before a fix by the software developer is available; an attacker can use this security hole to carry out an attack before the vendor has been able to issue an update.
  • Microsoft Security Updates / Automatic Updates
    Microsoft releases security updates to address specific issues and flaws in its Windows operating system and other Microsoft products. You need to install these updates on a regular basis in order to keep your system up-to-date and safe. Windows includes an Automatic Update feature that can proactively inform you that an update is available, and allows you to schedule these security update downloads and install them on a timeframe that you specify.
  • Patch Tuesday
    Microsoft releases its security updates, or patches, on the second Tuesday of each month; hence, this day is commonly referred to as Patch Tuesday.
  • Out-of-band
    Microsoft issues critical patches, outside of its regular Patch Tuesday cycle, when necessary. These are known as emergency or out-of-band updates.

Want to learn more? Microsoft provides a list of standard terminology used to describe Microsoft software updates.

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The average Microsoft Windows user's PC has software from 22 different vendors. A new security update needs to be installed about every five days in order to use these programs safely.
Source: Krebs on Security, Secunia
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