You’re hard at work on your computer or device and a message suddenly pops up saying, “a software update is available”. You’re busy, so you click “cancel” instead of “install”, thinking you’ll get to it later, but you never do. Sound familiar?
The truth is it’s easy to skip software updates because they can take up a few minutes of our time, and may not seem that important. But this is a mistake that keeps the door open for hackers to access your private information, putting you at risk for identity theft, loss of money, credit, and more.
You may have heard of the recent Equifax data breach, in which 143 million Americans were potentially affected, with Social Security numbers, birth dates, and home addresses exposed. The hackers were able to access the credit reporting agency’s data through a known vulnerability in a web application. A fix for this security hole was actually available two months before the breach, but the company failed to update its software. This was a tough lesson, but one that we can all learn from. Software updates are important because they often include critical patches to security holes.
In fact, many of the more harmful malware attacks we see take advantage of software vulnerabilities in common applications, like operating systems and browsers. These are big programs that require regular updates to keep safe and stable. So instead of procrastinating about software updates, see those updates as one of the most essential steps you can take when it comes to protecting your information.
In addition to security fixes, software updates can also include new or enhanced features, or better compatibility with different devices or applications. They can also improve the stability of your software, and remove outdated features.
All of these updates are aimed at making the user experience better. And while repeated update reminders can be annoying, especially if you have a lot of different applications, they can improve your experience in the long run and ensure that you get the most from your technology.
While some computer software requires you to manually approve and install updates, updating software on your mobile devices can be a lot easier. You can select auto-update, ensuring that your mobile apps stay current. Considering that the average smartphone owner uses 30 apps a month, and have at least twice that many installed, this could save you a lot of time and effort.
Now that you know how important software updates can be, here are a few more tips to keep you safe:
- Know that keeping your security software up-to-date is critical. This will protect you from the latest threats.
- Select auto-update for software on both your mobile devices and computers, when possible. For software that doesn’t update automatically, make it a habit to regularly check for and apply available updates.
- Before downloading any software, read others’ reviews first to make sure it’s safe to install in the first place. Cybercriminals like to distribute phony applications designed to steal your information.
- Keep on top of the latest threats so you know how to protect yourself from known vulnerabilities.