We discuss why it’s important to install software updates and quickly discuss the potential consequences of avoiding it.
Updating your software isn’t exciting. There really is no way around that. No one feels a heart flutter or adrenaline rush when a pop-up appears on the screen telling you it’s time for an update. It’s more of a begrudging acceptance. Or perhaps more commonly, just ignoring it.
But updates are important. Whether it’s a Windows update. An update for Adobe Flash. An update to your antivirus or even your Internet browser. Updates do more than just giving you the latest cool features or shiny buttons.
In fact most updates are concerned with making software run more smoothly and protecting it against vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Certain software, like your operating system, is very large and complex. It also has to be compatible with other software. Because of this, weaknesses are always being discovered. It’s just a reality of computing that certain software will never be 100% secure, and will need a continuous stream of updates to fix problems when they are discovered.
When a vulnerability is discovered, the developer of the software will release an update, often called a patch. It is important to install these security patches as soon as you can. If you don’t, you risk a cyber-criminal compromising the computer you are using via the vulnerability in the software.
A software vulnerability is a particularly dangerous thing. An attack against a software vulnerability (often referred to as an exploit) can be devastating, often because – unlike other Internet scams – they don’t require you to do anything wrong. With serious vulnerabilities, like ones discovered in many Internet Explorer version in 2015, simply visiting an infected website was enough to infect your computer with some pretty nasty malware.
Of course, some vulnerabilities are discovered by the bad guys before the software developer. This is what the security industry calls a “zero-day exploit”. This means the software developer had zero days to come up with a security patch to fix the vulnerability. There isn’t much anyone can do about this. However these are quite rare.
Keeping your software up-to-date is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to keeping your computer secure, so make sure you do it!