Why I like power cuts...

Accidental power cuts - a permanent nuisance when running accelerators or computing services, since it takes a lot of time to recover from them. While I feel very sorry for those who are under pressure to get their service running again and deeply regret the loss of down-time and availability, I must admit that I like power cuts: power cuts make computers reboot! And rebooting computers at CERN means all the pending software patches are automatically applied.


But don’t think I am egotistic enough to endorse power cuts. Not necessarily! I am already happy if you regularly patch your computer(s) yourself, where regularly means at least once a month:

· If you run a centrally or locally managed Windows computer, give that small orange blinking “CMF” icon in the taskbar a chance in the evening to apply all the pending patches. Also, let it initiate a reboot at the end!
· If you have a personal computer with your own Windows operating system, check for “Windows Update” in the program listing of the Start button. Switch to the recommended “automatic” updating method!
· On Linux distributions, make sure that you regularly run “yum update”. Or even better, enable automatic updates. Don’t forget to reboot your computer when a new kernel is installed, in order to properly apply kernel patches!
· For Apple Macs, use the software update mechanism accessible from the Apple menu.
· Finally, familiarize yourself on how to update your mobile devices, e.g. iphones, ipads or Android phones.

Of course, there's more to patch than just the operating system. Pay attention to notification messages issued when running your favourite applications. If your application is supported centrally by CERN’s IT Department, it will make the necessary adjustments. However, if this is a program you have downloaded and installed from the Internet it is up to you to ensure it is up-to-date and patched… If you are in doubt (and use a Windows system), you can install and run this fine program from Secunia which checks your computer for outdated software.

Thus, help us eliminate the need for power cuts: patch your computer in a timely manner.

For further information, please check our recommendations or contact us at Computer.Security@cern.ch.

by Computer Security Team