Update reminders. Those pesky windows that pop up right when you’re in the middle of something important – meeting that deadline, finishing that PowerPoint presentation, you know what we mean! Nine times out of ten, you react to the pop-up the same way: by hitting the “remind me later” option. But then later comes around – typically quicker than we expected – and there the pop-up is again.
But little did you know, cyber criminals are constantly seeking out flaws in operating systems and software, such as vulnerabilities that will let them steal your passwords or install malware. And every time you make the decision to put off that update, you allow them to get one step closer to you and make yourself that much more vulnerable to security breach.
So accept that next update. Or better yet, make sure you are using the most recent version of the four key IT areas where you are most vulnerable:
Operating Systems: This is the obvious one. Whether you are using Windows or Mac, you should absolutely turn on Automatic updates to get all the important security patches. However, you can also occasionally visit //windowsupdate.microsoft.com to check out non-critical updates available.
Browsers: You might not think about browser updates, but your browser provides entry for websites around the world into your computer. So you don’t want any security holes there. Many browsers incorporate automatic updates. But, as an example, Chrome and Firefox only download updates when you restart the applications. So check that your browsers are up-to-date, and restart your browser every now and then just in case!
Browser Plug-ins: Plug-ins like toolbars and helper objects hook deeply into your browser, meaning an attack compromising a plug-in can do almost as much damage as an attack on the browser itself. So check your plug-ins and identify any that are out-of-date. Adobe Reader and Flash Player have been particular targets of cyber criminal attack, so we recommend checking www.adobe.com/downloads/ and clicking the links for any readers or players you have installed to ensure you have the latest version.
Security Software: Cyber attackers are constantly inventing new tricks, and software developers are inventing new fixes with equal frequency. If you are using an older software version, you won’t have these fixes and will be vulnerable to attack. So stop delaying those updates! And for even stronger protection, consider running a patch management tool that will check all of your applications for available updates (more to come on patch management in our next post! But if you can’t wait, contact us to find out more). In fact, anti-virus software typically needs weekly updates. No virus is the same, and the way it attacks a system can be different. So each anti-virus software update works in three ways: fixing software bugs, correcting any existing software security holes, and updating the quickly shifting definitions of the millions of viruses out there.
While it can be overwhelming to think of a world with ever-evolving threats, keep in mind that security is also evolving. Do your part in keeping these four key IT components up-to-date, and you give yourself the best chance of avoiding attack.