Got an older PC that’s still running Windows XP or Windows Vista? Then you better update that computer now: Microsoft released a number of new patches for Windows computers Wednesday to prepare for possible attacks from nation states and other sinister actors.
Those patches are automatically being installed on more recent versions of Windows, provided that users didn’t disable automatic updates.
Users of older Windows PCs should manually update their computers, said Microsoft Cyber Defense Operations Center General Manager Adrienne Hall in a blog post. “In reviewing the updates for this month, some vulnerabilities were identified that pose elevated risk of cyber attacks by government organizations, sometimes referred to as nation-state actors or other copycat organizations,” she wrote.
Microsoft phased out support for older versions of its PC operating system some time ago. But in light of a recent hacking attack that quickly hijacked hundreds of thousands of PCs, the company decided to release patches for those older, unsupported versions as well. “Due to the elevated risk for destructive cyber attacks at this time, we made the decision to take this action because applying these updates provides further protection against potential attacks,” wrote Hall.
A month ago, hackers targeted Windows PCs worldwide with a massive attack that resulted in the hijacking of more than 200,000 computers. The attack took down parts of the U.K. health care system, and affected a number of other companies and government institutions around the world.
The attack was based on an exploit that hackers had stolen from the NSA, leading Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith to demand that governments should stop stockpiling cyber weapons. “We need the tech sector, customers, and governments to work together to protect against cybersecurity attacks,” Smith said