Archive for May, 2013

Stop Windows from Restarting Your Computer After Updates

May 26, 2013

Sometimes, Windows downloads important updates and decides it’s going to restart your computer whether you like it or not. Here’s how to disable that behavior.

This has been part of Windows for a long time, and while Microsoft tried to fix it in Windows 8, the annoyance still remains. When you see that screen that says your computer’s going to restart in 15 minutes, you just grit your teeth and accept it.

But, there’s actually an easy way to fix this—and it works in Windows 7, too. You just need to make a small tweak to the registry:

  1. Head to the Start menu or screen and type “regedit” (no quotes). Start the Registry Editor that pops up.
  2. Navigate to:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU

    On many computers, you won’t see the “WindowsUpdate” key. To create it, right-click on the “Windows” key in the sidebar and go to New > Key. Name the key WindowsUpdate, then right-click on that key and create a new one called AU.

  3. Click on the AU key and, in the right pane, right-click on the empty space and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  4. Name the new DWORD:
    NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers

    Double-click on the new DWORD and give it a value of 1.

  5. Reboot your machine and from now on, Windows will not force you to reboot after installing updates. Of course, when you install updates, you should still reboot your computer—and that responsibility is now on you—but this makes sure Windows doesn’t catch you by surprise.

Again, this registry key has been around for a long time, and should work in Windows 7 as well (but we thought it was worth revisiting for Windows 8). You can also perform the same task with the Group Policy Editor if you’re on Windows 8 Pro. Hit the link below to see how.

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Microsoft, Adobe Push Critical Security Updates

May 16, 2013

Microsoft and Adobe each released updates to fix critical security holes in their software. Microsoft’s patch batch tackles at least 33 vulnerabilities in Windows and other products, including a fix for a zero-day vulnerability in Internet Explorer 8 that attackers have been exploiting. Separately, Adobe pushed security updates for Flash Player, Adobe Reader, Acrobat and Adobe AIR.

Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday bundle includes two separate updates for Internet Explorer; the first (MS13-037) is a cumulative update for Internet Explorer. The second is a fix (MS13-038) specifically for a critical bug in IE 8 that miscreants and malware have been using to break into windows computers. Other, slightly less severe holes were fixed in Microsoft PublisherWordVisio and Windows Essentials.

Last week, Microsoft released a stop gap fix it tool to help blunt the threat from the IE8 zero-day flaw. If you installed that interim fix, Microsoft recommends taking a moment to disable it before applying today’s patches.

As it usually does on Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday, Adobe used the occasion to push its own security updates. A new version of Flash (v. 11.7.700.202 for Mac and Windows systems) fixes 13 vulnerabilities.  IE 10 and Google Chrome automatically update themselves to fix Flash flaws. This link should tell you which version of Flash your browser has installed. If your version of Chrome is not yet updated to v. 11.7.700.202, you may need to just restart the browser.

The most recent versions of Flash are available from the Adobe download center, but beware potentially unwanted add-ons, like McAfee Security Scan). To avoid this, uncheck the pre-checked box before downloading, or grab your OS-specific Flash download from here. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer will need to apply this patch twice, once with IE and again using the alternative browser (FirefoxOpera, e.g.).

In addition, Adode AIR (required by some applications like Pandora Desktop, for example) was updated to v. 3.7.0.1860. Also, Adobe has released new versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat that fix at least 27 security holes in these products. See this link for more detail on those patches. Adobe said it is not aware of any active exploits or attacks in the wild targeting any of the issues addressed in these updates.

Fun with the Onion

May 11, 2013

Now, The Onion, of course, is well known for having a lot of fun spoofing things. There was a note that appeared in The Onion from Karen Seubert, who’s the privacy and security expert for Chase Bank. And she says,

“At Chase Bank, we recognize the value of online banking. It’s quick, convenient, and available any time you need it. Unfortunately, though, the threats posed by malware and identity theft are very real, and all too common nowadays.

“That’s why, when you’re finished with your online banking session, we recommend three simple steps to protect your personal information: Number one, log out of your account. Second, close your browser. And then, three, charter a seafaring vessel to take you 30 miles out into the ocean, and throw your computer overboard. Yes, online banking security is as easy as one-two-three. Chase is committed to making your banking experience enjoyable, trouble-free, and, above all, safe. Which is why you should strike your computer with 20 to 25 forceful blows from a pipe wrench as soon as you reach international waters, toss the plastic and metal shards into the sea, and then immediately sink the ship you’re on. And then, once you dive to the sea floor, grab the scattered computer pieces, and shove them all inside living clams, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing you’re banking smarter and safer with Chase.”