In the second installment of my month-long Kellam’s Tech Tips series for Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I am addressing the importance of updating your operating system or software when new versions become available. When using our phones or computers, we’ll often get notifications that pop on our screens informing of a new update to the operating system or particular software. For example, those of you who use iOS products were recently informed of a new update to the operating system (iOS 11). These notifications can be annoying and I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of clicking on the “remind me later” option. However, neglecting these notifications can potentially forego new security updates designed to make the software, and your information, more secure.
When updates are released, users are informed of what the updates entail, and this information is public. If you continue to put off the installation of updates, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to a hacker’s exploitation of this public information. In fact, this is what contributed to the massive Equifax hack that was reported in September. The Apache Software Foundation stated that "[t]he Equifax data compromise was due to [Equifax's] failure to install the security updates provided in a timely manner.”
Updates can be time-consuming and they can interrupt your workflow, but they are a crucial part of best practices when it comes to cybersecurity. Moreover, the amount of time and effort it takes to update software in relation to the potential risks involved in not updating shows that it is well worth the small interruption. Additionally, these updates often address bugs that can increase work productivity.
It is especially vital that you keep your computer operating system up-to-date to ensure you are receiving security updates. For instance, Windows XP has long been discontinued and no longer receives updates, leaving critical security gaps if you are still running that operating system. As always, when in doubt Google the issue and you’ll easily find relevant articles on updates.