Keeping your OS patched isn't enough
The prevailing wisdom is that if you keep your operating system up to date with the latest security patches, and you run antivirus software, you're probably safe from malware. Unfortunately, that's just not true.
Consider yesterday's news that Trend Micro has discovered a new zero-day exploit in Adobe Reader. Who doesn't have Adobe Reader on their machine? If you have it, how careful are you about keeping it up to date? To be fair, the likelihood that you are going to try to open an infected PDF file is probably fairly small, but on the other hand, Adobe Reader is only one of probably hundreds of applications on your machine. As Mozilla recently discovered, thousands of Firefox users have potentially vulnerable older versions of Flash running on their machines.
So what's a responsible computer user to do? It's a difficult problem. Some software vendors are very responsible about pushing out updates to their software when needed. Others leave it in the user's hands. There are tools that will scan your machine and let you know when updates are available, but I'm not a big fan of these; I think users should know just what is changing on their system.
The best you can do is to be vigilant and consider your software at the same level you do the operating system when ensuring your machine is up to date. Obviously web-facing software or software that interacts with downloaded files are the biggest concern, and anything that is ubiquitous or incredibly popular, like Microsoft Office or your favorite browser.
What do you do to make sure your machine is as secure as you can make it?
[via InSecurity Complex]