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Alert: Critical updates! Patch now

Microsoft and others just released a new batch of critical security patches, which means it's time to make sure you get these important fixes to protect your computer from serious vulnerabilities. In addition to Microsoft, Adobe and Java developer Oracle have all released updates that you need now.

Microsoft has released 11 security bulletins this month, four of which are marked “critical,” meaning attackers or malware can exploit them to break into vulnerable systems with no help from users, save for perhaps visiting a booby-trapped or malicious Web site. Then Microsoft patches fix flaws in Windows, Internet Explorer (IE), Office, and .NET

Adobe and Oracle have also released some serious patches today. Adobe is pushing out an update that fixes 22 flaws in Flash Player.

Adobe’s patch includes a fix for a zero-day bug (CVE-2015-3043) that the company warns is already being exploited. Users of the Adobe Flash Player for Windows and Macintosh should update to Adobe Flash Player 17.0.0.169...

Oracle's update includes deals with 15 security issues in Java. At this point, you should only keep Java around if you need it to access specific websites or applications. Otherwise, you should consider getting rid of it. But, if you do need to keep Java around, make sure to get these updates.

On most Windows computers, updates are set to "automatic" by default, but it never hurts to double-check that you have the right settings in place.

In Windows 8, using a mouse, right-click in the lower right corner of the screen and choose Control Panel. If you're using a touch screen, swipe from the right of the screen and tap Settings>>Control Panel.

In Windows 7 and Vista, go to Start>>Control Panel.

In Control Panel, click System and Security and then under Windows Update click "Turn automatic updating on or off." Choose "Install updates automatically" in the drop-down menu.

You can choose when the updates will install. Updating usually restarts the computer, so try to pick a time you won't be using the computer, like during the middle of the day for your home computer or late at night for an office computer

Use these links to learn how to update Flash Player and Java.

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