Why Should You Keep Your Devices and Software Up-to-date?Aug. 24, 2022 / My Data Removal Staff
It is one thing to get malware on your computer when you do something unwise, like download pirated software or open an attachment from a questionable email. That is a consequence that comes directly because of a choice you made. But it is different when something bad happens to you even when you’re trying your best to follow all the rules and stay safe.
This can happen because hackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities in the systems and applications we use. When they find them, they exploit them or sell them to others who exploit them. This means that we can be doing everything right, but still have something bad happen to us.
It is simply a part of the technology age that devices and applications will have vulnerabilities that can be exploited, despite our best efforts to avoid them. This is where updates come in. When a vulnerability is found, organizations create what is called a patch. A patch is a set of software changes that quickly resolve bugs or security issues.
There are regularly scheduled software updates, and there can also be updates whenever needed to address any urgent issues like glaring vulnerabilities that are discovered. Microsoft, for example, has updates that it rolls out to Windows on a regular basis. But if they uncover something particularly bad, they will update mid-cycle, to patch the vulnerability and to not leave millions of people exposed.
Keeping devices and applications up to date means that you have installed all the updates for your operating systems and applications and that you are using the most recent versions.
Why this matters
When you keep your devices and applications up to date, you are receiving the best protection. Otherwise, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to cyber criminals.
When Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP (meaning they no longer offered updates with security patches) there were numerous successful attacks targeting those who still used that operating system.
Bugs and vulnerabilities are almost always going to exist. Many software companies even have bug bounty programs, meaning they know they have vulnerabilities and they will pay large sums of money to not let them fall into the wrong hands.
If you don’t update your operating system and software, you are opening yourself up to be taken advantage of. You are leaving yourself exposed. Keeping up-to-date is very easy, has a big impact on your security, and doesn’t take much effort on your part.
See below for a step-by-step guide for the major operating systems. Most operating systems will have the system automatically check for updates. We highly recommend that you enable auto updates wherever possible on all of your devices, operating systems, and apps.
How to update Windows 11 (or Windows 10 or even Windows 8 or 7).
3. Update & Security (skip if Windows 10)
4. Windows update.
5. Click the “Check for Windows updates” button.
How to update Mac
1. Click the Apple menu in the corner and choose System Preferences.
2. Click Software Update.
3. If it finds an update, click “Update Now”.
How to update Android
1. Go to settings
2. Select Software Update
3. Select download and install
4. If it finds and update, wait for it to download, then select “Update Now”.
How to update iPhone (or Apple tablet)
1. Go to settings, select General, Software Update, and Select Automatic Updates.
2. Turn on Download iOS updates and Install iOS Updates.
How to keep your apps up-to-date
This depends on your OS or platform. For phones, the App or Play Store along with your phone should manage this. Setting updates to automatic would be a good idea. For Mac or Windows many programs will have the setting to have the program check for updates automatically. This would be good to check. You can always manually check by visiting the website of the program.
Update other hardware
Other hardware that you use needs to be regularly updated as well. This list includes your router, IoT devices, printers, and wearables. If they have a setting to automatically update, you should use it. Otherwise, you should periodically check to see if there are newer versions of firmware for your devices.
What else needs to be updated?
While it is great to update your devices and software, consider updating your other cyber security practices as well. If you need ideas on what else you could work on, check out our guide here.