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Microsoft Urges Customers to take 4 Security Steps

Microsoft Urges Customers to take 4 Critical Security Steps

Focus should be on Computer Hygiene for Longer Term Safety

AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Friday, August 15, 2003 - Microsoft New Zealand recommends that all computer users make security maintenance a part of their regular computer hygiene routine.


The company says the more connected world brought about by the Internet means that computer users have an increased need to stay vigilant and keep their computer systems up-to-date. Microsoft also stresses that focusing on specific viruses is not the appropriate approach and would be insufficient to keep computer systems adequately protected.

Microsoft New Zealand's Enterprise and Partner Group Director, Terry Allen explains, "Having computers connected to the Internet is like having a front door to the outside world. Up-to-date security systems are important to help computer users check who is at that front door and ensure that unwelcomed strangers are not allowed to get in without permission."

"New Zealand computer users would be better protected if they take the following security measures immediately:

1. Install firewall software.

2. Update computers with the latest patches, including configuring Windows to receive free automatic updates via the Windows Update service.

3. Run Anti-Virus software and keep it updated.

4. Sign up for free email security update notification.

The step-by-step guidance to do this can be found on http://www.microsoft.com/security ."

"Microsoft has an ongoing commitment to improve the security of our software, with the goal of catching software bugs in the development process. Microsoft also investigates all reports of security issues stringently. Should any vulnerability still be found, we work quickly to provide customers with the fixes they need to get secure and stay secure," Allen added.

He says "These free updates are made available automatically to customers who have subscribed to the Windows Update service." Customer Support for New Zealand Computer Users

Microsoft says it is taking strong steps to ensure that customers have the appropriate level of service in the event of any disruption over the weekend. To assist customers through the weekend, Microsoft's Customer Service Centre will remain open. Planned operation hours for Saturday, August 16 and Sunday, August 17 are from 9.00am to 6.00pm, and will be extended should the need arise.

Over this specific issue, calls to the Microsoft Customer Service Centre have averaged 3,000 daily this week. Microsoft will have additional staff on duty over the weekend to cater to requests for toll free telephone support.

However, the company advises customers that due to the high volume and complexity of the calls, the waiting time for the toll free telephone line may continue to be lengthy and recommends that customers first visit http://www.microsoft.com/security before calling 0800 800 004.

"It is difficult to predict the impact for New Zealand customers, but the fact that over 40 million copies of the patch have been downloaded worldwide in the past two weeks is a positive sign," says Allen.

"What I can say is that we are doing everything we can to ensure that Windows Update remains fully available to our customers, limiting the impact of a denial of service attack on windowsupdate.com on August 16 on our customers. At the same time, we are taking steps to ensure that, even in the event of any disruption, customers can continue to access and download the Windows security patch in alternative ways."

Microsoft customers who have not already downloaded the service patch are recommended to do so immediately and not wait for the weekend. They can go directly to http://www.microsoft.com/security to access the patch MS03-026 or via the Microsoft download centre http://www.microsoft.com/downloads

The company says it is evaluating several other options for distributing the fix to customers to make sure all systems get the patch and remain secure.

"We want to ensure that customers can download and apply the Windows security patch they need, and also keep their systems updated," says Allen.

"Apart from online facilities, CDs with the security patch will be made available via our Customer Service Centre. We will courier the CDs out to customers as necessary."

Allen says it is important to realise that even as software security gets more sophisticated in the development process, that there will always be malicious code hackers trying to break into computer systems.

"The intentional distribution of a computer attack in any form to cause damage is a criminal offence," says Allen. "Malicious coders are criminals and Microsoft is actively working with law enforcement agencies to prosecute individuals or organisations who engage in these activities."

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software - any time, any place and on any device.

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Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

ENDS

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