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Service Packs

One of the easiest ways to eliminate many of the existing and known vulnerabilities and bugs associated with Windows NT is through the application of service packs. Service packs are applied directly to an existing system. They usually take into account all of the previous patches and hot fixes and then apply them en masse to the existing operating system. Service packs are released after a number of hot fixes and patches have been released. A service pack is Microsoft's way of making it easier for the end user to update her system. It is absolutely critical to remain up-to-date on service packs. Applying the latest service pack is the easiest and most efficient way for keeping your Microsoft-based system up-to-date.

A recently released free utility from Microsoft is also available to help an end user determine whether a system is up to date with patches. Microsoft Network Security Hotfix Checker (hfnetchk), found through the Web site www.microsoft.com/technet, is a command-line tool that checks the patch status of a given machine. It runs on both Windows NT and Windows 2000. This utility should be run on a periodic basis to determine if a machine is current on its patches and hotfixes. Listing 10.9 shows some sample hfnetchk output. If you do not patch the system with these updates, you will continue to be vulnerable to attacks against the operating system.


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