Windows Updates: Security

When Microsoft launches a new version of Windows, online criminals quickly find vulnerable areas in the operating system and continue to do so for the lifetime of the version. To counter this, Microsoft releases regular updates – via Windows Update – such as security updates or critical updates, which protect against malware and security exploits.

Running Microsoft (Windows) updates on your system helps mitigate the risk of the aforementioned threats by patching loopholes and security flaws as they are found by Microsoft’s risk mitigation team which works around the clock.

Microsoft Updates are crucial for the mitigation of security risks and smooth operation of your Windows Operating System. It is estimated that the vast majority of vulnerable systems which become exploited with “attacks” are directly vulnerable due to the lack of recent Windows updates and therefore the infection and spread of many types of malware and viruses could be mitigated with regular updates.

Windows 10 machines include the new Windows Defender Security Center, which includes built-in protection against virus and threats.

Windows 10: new Windows Defender Security Center
Windows 10 Windows Defender Security Center

Windows 10 Update Standards

All Windows Updates in Windows 10 are automatic. They cannot be turned off.

Windows 10 Updating Progress
Windows 10 Updating Progress

Some Windows 10 editions include the option to defer upgrades for a limited time. Security updates, however, are excluded from this option; everyone receives them automatically.

Windows 10: Defer Updates
Windows 10 Defer Updates
History: Too many people were not proactive in protecting their computers, rather that they were proactively putting themselves at risk by disabling Windows security features – like updates.The policy in Windows 10 is for self-updating with zero input required from the user. Often if a user is required to do something, it will be neglected, which is why Windows 10 Update policy is now so critical. Often, the updates these products deliver patch some pretty nasty security flaws.

In a global ransomware attack in 2017, there were hundreds of thousands of machines that had their files encrypted.

Microsoft was aware of the issue and released a security update soon after to protect users. Customers who didn’t update their machines were vulnerable to attack, and many corporate customers fell victim.

The incident has highlighted the importance of keeping your software up to date by installing security updates.

Ransom Ware attack encrypt user files
Ransom Ware attack encrypt user files

What are Windows security updates and how do they keep your PC safe?

Major cyber attacks in recent years highlight the importance of keeping your operating system up to date.

Windows 10 Home users will find that all updates and upgrades will be (forcibly) downloaded and installed in the background, often combined with a scheduled reboot. Security patches, new features, and settings changes are force-fed. The only time when updates will not auto-download is when the device is on a metered connection.

So Windows feature updates are required if you are running Windows 10 Home or Professional. You can only defer updates on Windows 10 Professional for a period of time eventually they will be installed. Feature updates can be defended for 4 months and quality updates can be deferred for a small amount of time.

Checking for, and installing, Windows updates, like service packs and other patches and major updates, is a necessary part of running any Windows operating system.

Windows 10 Update Status
Windows 10 Update Status

The above image illustrates how a well maintained Windows 10 would appear in the Windows Update Status.

Summary: Windows updates can support your Windows installation in many ways. Windows updates can solve specific problems with Windows, provide protection from malicious attacks, or even add new features to the operating system.

Check for and Install Updates in Windows 10

In Windows 10, Windows Update is found within Settings.

First, tap or click on the Start menu, followed by Settings. Once there, choose Update & security, followed by Windows Update on the left.

Check for new Windows 10 updates by tapping or clicking on the Check for updates button.

In Windows 10, downloading and installing updates is automatic and will happen immediately after checking or, with some updates, at a time when you’re not using your computer.

Windows 10 Updates are available
Windows 10 Updates are available

Windows Update Network Settings

In Windows 10, Windows Update offers easy to manage network-related settings that you should examine to avoid exceeding your Internet Service Providers bandwidth limit or incurring extra charges on a mobile data plan.

Windows 10 cumulative updates can be quite large and the bi-annual feature updates (like the recent April 2018 Update) are often GBs in size. If you’re on a low-bandwidth connection with several connected devices, you should consider limiting the amount of bandwidth used for Windows Updates. Luckily you can manage the amount of bandwidth the updates use. However, this helpful feature is buried deep in settings, but here we’ll show you how to find and manage it.

Set Bandwidth Limits for Windows 10 Updates

Head to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced Options and scroll down and click on Delivery Optimization and on the next screen click the Advanced Options link – told you it is buried deep.

Windows 10 Set Delivery Optimization
Windows 10 Set Delivery Optimization

Now you’re in the section that matters. You have options to limit the bandwidth used for uploads and downloads. Just check the item you want to limit bandwidth for and use the slider to adjust the percentage it uses. You can limit the amount of upload bandwidth used for other PCs and set a monthly upload limit.

Windows 10 Updates Advanced
Windows 10 Updates Advanced

Windows 10’s twice-annual feature upgrades also come with a numeric nameplate using Microsoft’s yymm format. The October update will be tagged as 1809, however, as if it were a September release.

Windows 10’s October 2018 Update, also known as version 1809 and code named Redstone 5 during its development process, is coming soon.

 

Microsoft did introduce new delivery optimization settings starting with Windows 10 1709, but it only allowed throttling background downloads. Now, with Windows 10 1803, you can throttle the foreground downloads, too. The foreground updates are the updates you start manually – you head to Settings > Update & security > Windows Update. Or, if you’re downloading an app from the Windows Store, that’s also considered a foreground update. The background updates are the sneakier ones that happen automatically without any interaction on your part. Having your PC set to automatically check for updates is an example of a background update.

Updates can fail – So enable System Restore

Uninstalling and hiding troublesome updates may not be sufficient. If you can’t risk being surprised by a faulty update (it is known to happen), I do recommend you enable System Restore. If a future update fails, you will be able to simply roll back to when the system was working.

Go to Windows Search, type system restore, and select Create a restore point. An old-fashioned System Properties window will launch. In the System Protection tab, select your system drive, and click Configure… In the new window, select Turn on system protection, define the Max Usage space you can dedicate, and click OK to save your changes.

Updates can fail - So enable System Restore
Updates can fail! – So enable System Restore

Back in the previous window, you can now manually Create… your first restore point. Windows will now create new restore points whenever your system goes through changes, which includes the installation of security and feature updates.

Windows 10’s (coming) October 2018 Update (version 1809)

Microsoft has now put a label on its next Windows 10 feature upgrade, giving it the colorless-but-informative moniker of “Windows 10 October 2018 Update.”

Microsoft is set to release Windows 10 October 2018 Update soon, next month if its name is any indication,  and I recommend you install it. Not for the new features necessarily, although some look promising, but because it will keep you and your computer more secure.

Come for the security, stay for the new features

Windows 10 October 2018 Update will introduce a number of new features. They include:

  • The Your Phone app for cross-Windows 10/Android communications.
  • Updates for Windows Mixed Reality, including support for more AR-like experiences and the ability to use a headset without a monitor.
  • Updates to Edge for managing auto-play audio and Windows Hello-based website logins.
  • The roll-out of the Swift-Key keyboard for touch, laying the groundwork for dual-screen tablets.
  • Separation of font scaling settings from the rest of the interface’s scaling, a useful tool for high-resolution displays that can make text crisper.
  • A new and improved screenshot tool.
  • Game Bar enhancements including improved audio recording and system performance monitoring.
  • A notification telling you if an application is still using an external GPU when you try to detach it.

If you do not want to wait for Microsoft to hammer out all the kinks with the Windows 10 October 2018 Update, you can download and install it now.


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