Microsoft is to add 'severity ratings' to its security bulletins in a bid to encourage more administrators to update the patches on its products.
The Redmond giant acknowledged that, because its security bulletins are currently released without any form of prioritisation, users fail to download and install the relevant patches leaving major vulnerabilities in networks months after the holes are discovered.
"In our experience, graphically illustrated by the recent Code Red and Nimda worm viruses, attacks that impact customers' systems rarely result from attackers' exploitation of previously unknown vulnerabilities," said Microsoft. "Rather, such attacks typically exploit vulnerabilities for which patches have long been available, but never applied."
Throughout 2000, Microsoft published 100 security bulletins ranging from almost insignificant and harmless glitches through to vulnerabilities which could allow an attacker to remotely take control of a machine. But lack of prioritisation probably meant that most of the warnings were overlooked.
The rating system will feature 'critical', 'moderate' and 'low' security grades designed to prompt users into clamping down on the most severe vulnerabilities. Experts have already acknowledged that this method is more effective.
In the recent case of the Nimda worm, experts' warnings and media coverage were thought to be the driving forces behind the large number of security patches downloaded by administrators to fend off the attacks.
Microsoft will also categorise security threats into three different sections - internet-facing servers, internal servers and client systems - to better alert an administrator to the urgency with which patches need to be applied.
In addition, the severity ratings will be included in the XML file that the automated Microsoft Personal Security Advisor and HFNetChk tools use to determine what security patches are needed.
More information on the vulnerability alert system can be found here.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago