If you’re a Windows user, did you ever wonder what the periodic appearance of a yellow shield on your task bar means? When you have Windows Automatic Update enabled (and you definitely should!), your PC will regularly check with Microsoft to see if any new software fixes or patches are available to download and install.
Generally, Microsoft releases patches for Windows systems on every second Tuesday of the month (affectionately known, by some, as “patch Tuesday”). Your PC should detect the availability of patches on patch Tuesday and download/install them to your computer. Oftentimes, your PC will need to be rebooted for the patches to take affect.
Malicious attackers also watch for patch Tuesday but their intent is to better understand where specific security holes in the Windows software exist. They reverse engineer the patches and can then generate attacks against unpatched Windows machines.
Yesterday, Microsoft released a critical patch so you may see the yellow shield even though it’s not the second Tuesday of the month. In order to stay safe, this critical patch should be installed as soon as possible and your machine restarted. Attackers are already working on efforts to exploit this most recent weakness so patching quickly is key.
So, don’t ignore or inhibit that little yellow shield on your task bar. It’s trying to protect your PC and data! Allow it to install the patches as soon as it detects them. And, if it prompts you to restart your PC, it’s a really good idea to do that.