There are many reasons to keep your software up to date. It improves the functionality and performance of the software, fixes bugs, and introduces new features. It also enhances the security of the software. Keeping your software up to date is one of the easiest ways to strengthen your cybersecurity posture, and it is one of the topics from this year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Let’s look closely at software updates and how they can help you.
Patches and Service Packs
Software updates come in different forms. Feature updates will enhance the operability of specific software. Regarding security, patches are important as they target security vulnerabilities in the software.
These vulnerabilities come from bugs or gaps in the initial programming, the increased sophistication of cybercriminals, and new and more advanced malware being developed. The vendor usually becomes aware of these vulnerabilities when an attacker finds a way through the software’s security, sending them on a mad race to patch that hole before more users are affected.
When multiple patches and other software fixes need to be deployed, they are sent out as a service pack. This is usually targeted at a large group of customers, as opposed to a specific situation.
Manual vs. Automatic Updates
There are two ways software updates can be delivered to your system. You can get the notification and manually go to the vendor’s website to download and install the update. Alternatively, you can get automatic updates.
Automatic updates only happen if the user or administrator permits the vendor to install them as they are released. The updates are then automatically installed in your system without you needing to do anything. It is highly recommended that you sign up for automatic updates, so your software is always up to date.
The software has a lifespan. When it reaches the end of its life, it usually means there is new and improved software to take its place. When this happens, the software is called end-of-life software, and its support ends. That means no more updates of any kind, including patches. This leaves the software particularly vulnerable to attack, and you must avoid using end-of-life software as soon as support for it ends.
Best Practices for Software Updates
When it comes to keeping your software up to date, there are some best practices to remember.
Don’t Put It Off
Whether a popup shows up in the middle of the workday or when you’re scrolling through social media or browsing the internet, it’s tempting to click “Remind me later.” It feels like an intrusion and an inconvenience but ignoring it and putting it off can result in more than mere inconvenience. Even if there are changes to the software features that you’d rather do without, they are worth the upgrade in security you’ll get along with them.
Go Directly to the Vendor’s Site
When a popup comes up, or you get an advertisement or email with a link, you want to verify it is legitimate. Instead of clicking the link, go directly to the vendor’s website and install the update. This way, you will know it is legitimate.
Avoid installing Updates on Unsecured Networks
If the network is unsecured or otherwise untrusted, do not install software updates. This includes public networks such as hotels, coffee shops, and airports. Cybercriminals intentionally target users logging in on these networks, and there are free attack tools available that attackers can use to send you fake prompts to update your software.
Check for Updates Regularly
If you aren’t signed up for automatic updates, you must check for software updates regularly. In most cases, you will receive a notification that an update is available, but you shouldn’t rely solely on those updates. When you do receive a notification, install the update immediately. In addition, check your software and device settings weekly and the vendor’s website monthly to ensure you don’t miss any updates.
Learn How to Spot Fakes
When browsing the internet, you may see popups that ask you to download a software update. These are fakes. Do not click on the link for the download. Instead, close your browser. In many cases, your browser or antivirus antimalware software will warn you when you visit an unsecured or questionable website, but you need to stay on your guard.
Installing software updates as soon as they become available is simple and will provide some of the best protection against cyberattacks. When you do this along with enabling multi-factor authentication, ensuring the use of strong passwords, and recognizing and reporting phishing, you will end up with a robust cybersecurity presence that will go a long way to keeping your organization safe.
Contact Platinum Technologies today to learn how we can help you ensure you always have the latest software updates.