As security vulnerabilities are discovered, the affected software must be updated in order to limit any potential security risks. If the software is part of a package within a Red Hat Enterprise Linux distribution that is currently supported, Red Hat is committed to releasing updated packages that fix the vulnerability as soon as is possible. Often, announcements about a given security exploit are accompanied with a patch (or source code that fixes the problem). This patch is then applied to the Red Hat Enterprise Linux package and tested and released as an errata update. However, if an announcement does not include a patch, a developer first works with the maintainer of the software to fix the problem. Once the problem is fixed, the package is tested and released as an errata update.
If an errata update is released for software used on your system, it is highly recommended that you update the affected packages as soon as possible to minimize the amount of time the system is potentially vulnerable.
When updating software on a system, it is important to download the update from a trusted source. An attacker can easily rebuild a package with the same version number as the one that is supposed to fix the problem but with a different security exploit and release it on the Internet. If this happens, using security measures such as verifying files against the original RPM does not detect the exploit. Thus, it is very important to only download RPMs from trusted sources, such as from Red Hat and to check the signature of the package to verify its integrity.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux includes a convenient panel icon that displays visible alerts when there is an update available.