It's indisputable that maintaining proper security means that applications must be patched and updated just like operating systems and other key software components. But even when security components and operating systems are kept current, applications are overlooked far too often nowadays. That's why I'm always tickled to see the link to Office Update available at the top of the Windows Update Web page.
Just as Windows Update scans the machine from which its run for updates of all kinds (Critical Updates and Service Packs, Windows Updates, and Driver Updates) so also does the Office Update scan for Office-related Service Packs, Service Releases, Security Updates, Security Patches, etc. The home page for Office Update also tells you what kinds of new updates are available (it mentions new updates for Word 2003, Outlook 2003, and Office 2003 as I write this tip). As it scans your Office installation and constituent components, it will tell you which updates to apply. As with Windows Update, you can skip anything you don't like, but security updates and service packs should be omitted only when you know they'll break something you can't live without.
There's more going on at the MS Office site than just updates, however. You can sign up for all kinds of newsletters, including one called "Product Updates Alert." This will make sure you're aware when new Office Updates become available, so you can visit and grab them as needed (I don't see an auto-update facility for Office like the one for Windows itself). You'll also find all kinds of other Office information, including all kinds of assistance, tips, and help; training courses, offers, and info; a huge library of document templates for all the various Office components; oodles of free clip art and media files; tons of free software downloads; and more. Though keeping Office up-to-date is important, there's a lot more going on here than just updates. Check it out!
Tom Lancaster, CCIE# 8829 CNX# 1105, is a consultant with 15 years experience in the networking industry, and co-author of several books on networking, most recently, CCSPTM: Secure PIX and Secure VPN Study Guide published by Sybex.