The latest software patch to address the Meltdown and Spectre flaws from Windows is not coming your way if you are bad at staying up to date.
Last week, Microsoft took an unprecedented step to block updates to Windows systems that did not have an up to date version of antivirus software.
The risk comes from some cases where a computer could be “bricked” because out of date antivirus software improperly taps into the system (kernel) memory. Applying the update with incompatible antivirus software had a high risk of causing stop errors otherwise known as the “Blue Screen of Death” (BSOD).
In a statement citing a small number of antivirus products causing BSODs exerted tremendous oversight in the controlled rollout of security patches.
“To help prevent stop errors … Microsoft is only offering the Windows security updates that were released on January 3, 2018, to devices that are running antivirus software that is from partners who have confirmed that their software is compatible with the January 2018 Windows operating system security update.”
Even though there is a workaround in special cases that involves manually adding a key to the system registry, it is not recommended to shortcut this process.
A big concern for the future is that Microsoft issues updates as cumulative patches. If you do not have this latest patch installed, you will not be able to install future updates so it is highly recommended to stay on top of your system updates.
If your antivirus program is not allowing the patch to be installed even after getting the latest version, it is recommended to remove the antivirus software and use Microsoft’s own Windows Defender (Windows 10 and 8.1) or Microsoft Security Essentials (Windows 7).
Also making sure you are using the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome and Microsoft Edge will go a long way to protecting you from internet borne attacks using the Spectre and Meltdown flaws.
For assistance in making sure your system is up to date, I am available to assist with single systems up to multiple location deployments.