Windows security tools replace Tuesday patch action

Microsoft released no new security patches today, but several of its security-related tools got a refresh.

Microsoft may not have any formal security bulletins to release today, but there are a few new versions of some security-related tools for IT administrators to view.

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For IT shops that have completed their daylight-saving time patching, this might be a good week to look into the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool, which is getting its regular once-a-month update. The software is currently at version 1.27. For those who have long wondered what this tool is, it was originally developed in the wake of RPC exploits like the Blaster, Sasser and Mydoom worms and was designed to detect and remove prevalent malicious software.

Microsoft maintains a list of all the malware the tool looks for and does its best to remove, but it's not intended as a replacement for an actual antivirus product -- it's mostly a stopgap measure designed to halt the most scurrilous of infections and give users a chance to install more effective protection if they must.

Microsoft publishes guidelines for how to use the tool in a corporate deployment, such as how to integrate it into a Group Policy logon script.

The Windows Malicious Software Removal tool itself will not be distributed by Software Update Services (SUS); it will be available through Windows/Microsoft Update, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and the Download Center. Windows Update, Microsoft Update, SUS and WSUS will all receive a number of nonsecurity updates. There are six in total.

In terms of patches, it's been a slow month for security updates. In fact, for the first time since September 2005, Microsoft has no security bulletins to announce at all. There are a few ways to interpret this: Either nothing has surfaced recently that's worth pressing attention, or there's a number of existing exploits that are still being analyzed and haven't yet been officially described.

A third possibility, which is highly likely, is that too many people are scrambling from the impact of the daylight-saving time changeover to really assess a full load of monthly security issues. If April's bulletin load is exceptionally heavy, that'll probably be a tip off that Microsoft stalled March's bulletins preemptively.

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