Recently a computer worm, variously known as Downadup, Conficker or Kido, has infected as many as 15 million Windows computers (possibly more at the time of this writing). Although we don't yet know why this worm was written, similar worms in the past have been used for spamming, stealing credit card details and other nefarious things.
The spread of this worm cannot be blamed on Microsoft, as they released a patch for the vulnerability that the worm exploits back in October.
Unfortunately, when we provide technical support to customers we find that many of them haven't applied updates to their computers in years. Many of them also report having had to recently reformat their hard drives after a malware infection and some complain about poor security in Microsoft software.
Microsoft has gotten a lot of bad press over the years over security. Although this was justified years ago, nowadays you have a reasonable expectation that Microsoft will provide security updates for most of the flaws in their software. This typically happens before they become public, or within a few days or weeks afterwards.
What does this mean to you? If you see Windows update prompting you to install updates, do it. Now. This, combined with common sense (Don't take candy from strangers on the Internet) and an anti-malware suite, is your best defense against what the bad guys that want to do to your computer.
Thank you for reading this public service announcement, you can now get back to work (after you apply those updates). If you already have, thanks for making the Internet a safer place for everyone.