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The importance of Updating Your Software – Always

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The importance of Updating Your Software – Always

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Software updates—the notifications that most computer users dread. Forty percent of adults don’t update their software when prompted—and that means a lot of users are at risk.

Why don’t we update?

There are many reasons people give for not wanting to update software on their devices. A study by Skype, Symantec, and TomTom found that three-quarters of users did not understand the benefits of the update. Almost half worried about the security of their computer and 27% said updates take too long.

But having out-of-date software is a huge security risk. It leaves your devices and system open to countless attacks from cybercriminals. Updating your software is Savvy Cybersecurity Principle #3.

Why do we need to update?

Developers push out software updates when they close a security hole or vulnerability in the current version of a program. These security holes can leave you vulnerable to a range of issues—from malware to spying to ransomware.

For example, an open vulnerability could allow hackers to execute a drive-by-download attack. A drive-by attack occurs when a cybercriminal creates malicious code that exploits a security hole in a program such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, or a browser plug-in. Users are exposed to the code through malicious advertisements or links on a website. If they are running outdated software, the malicious code can infiltrate their system through that hole.

A drive-by-download attack could result in your machine downloading malware that records everything you do. This sort of malware can lead to identity theft and financial fraud.

What can we do?

To start, we need to embrace the software update. Updates don’t just make aesthetic changes to our programs but introduce valuable security improvements. Many programs have made it easier to stay up-to-date. Programs such as Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Windows, Firefox, and others allow you to choose “auto-update” so new updates are downloaded and installed as soon as they are available.

Software developers have also tried to make updates less intrusive. In the past, people put off updating a program because they were in the middle of something important and did not want to restart their computer or browser. Now, for many programs, you can download the update now and schedule the installation for later so your computer can restart in the middle of the night, instead of in the middle of that important email. And when you update your browser, your tabs will all still be there when you relaunch the browser.

You also need to be sure to update software on all devices. Smartphones and tablets carry security vulnerabilities too. Be sure your apps and operating system are up-to-date.

Make updating your software a part of your weekly schedule. Every Wednesday night sit down and make sure you don’t have any outstanding updates. It will help you become more comfortable with the update and will protect your devices against the hackers.

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