Microsoft released its new security patch this week, and scammers were quick to get on the bandwagon, releasing a patch of their own via e-mail messages that are sure to confuse computer users.
Microsoft's update was the June entry in the company's regular monthly set of security patches. This month, the patches include repairs that protect Windows users who visit web sites infected with malicious code and users who open infected e-mail messages with Outlook Express or Windows Mail. There are also repairs to the Windows Vista program that was launched earlier this year, and a patch that prevents hackers from accessing PCs.
If your computer is set to install updates automatically, you might not have even noticed the update taking place this week. If you aren't set up for automatic updates, Microsoft recommends you heed the update reminder that appears on your screen, or go to the Microsoft update website to check to see if your computer has been updated and to download updates.
What you should not do is click on the "Download this update" link that appears in an e-mail message entitled "Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer." This e-mail message is being sent by scammers or hackers who are hoping you will click the link so they can install malicious software on your computer. The software, when installed, calls out to the Internet to access other programs that are then installed on your computer.
Microsoft wants users to know that, although the company does send out e-mail messages informing users of the availability of updates, the links that appear in these messages take you to the Microsoft web site and do not automatically download executable files.