Why You Shouldn't Ignore Software Updates and Security Patches
Updated: Jun 22
You’ll get no argument from anyone whose work involves a computer: software updates are a pain. At best, they’re a momentary distraction and your system will update in the background after you click on a few boxes. At worst, they involve loading a new version of your operating system after a temporary shutdown, causing you to lose the better part of an hour of productive time. But updates and security patches are an essential part of maintaining your software, and the professional information technology and security specialists at Flagler Technologies are going to explain why.
Why Updating Software is Important
There are several reasons why your company should run all system and software updates in a timely manner:
Updates often offer new features that users won’t get access to until they’re completed.
Updates often contain patches for newly-discovered security gaps. Not running the update could leave your system vulnerable to cyberattacks or malware.
Your system or the software may not run as well without the update. Some updates improve the efficiency of the system/software.
Missing multiple updates can render the system or software inoperable. When you contact support, they’ll ask you which version of the operating system or software you’re running. If the version is too old, it may require additional steps (such as updating) to get you up and running.
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Software Updates
Cybercriminals are constantly developing new ways to penetrate the security of information systems, which is why software designers and cyber security firms work to develop security patches for existing operating systems and software. With this in mind, the optimal time to run an update is within 24 hours of receiving the notification.
If the update contains security patches, any additional delays leave your system and information vulnerable to cyberattacks. A 2017 report by one cybersecurity firm found that 90% of the successful attacks on businesses were against vulnerabilities that had been discovered over three years prior. 60% of the attacks could have been stopped with security patches that had been developed ten years before the attack. That means that many cybercrime victims were often remiss in updating their software,
By routinely auditing your network, you can discover which devices are behind on their updates and take steps to correct the oversight.
Possible Consequences of Ignoring Updates
In addition to the inherent security risks of ignoring updates, here are a few negative consequences of failing to update your software.
Compatibility Issues – Some software designers time their updates with operating system upgrades. If you update your OS and not your software, or vice versa, you may run into compatibility issues that can adversely affect your user experience.
Interactivity Issues – If some devices or software are updated, and others aren’t, you may also experience lags during device-to-device interactions.
You Could Lose Data – If your physical devices stop working or develop performance issues, they may require an update as part of the troubleshooting process. If you have locally stored files or data, they may be lost during the process.
How to Check for Software Updates
Fortunately, most software engineers and hardware manufacturers recognize the value of informing their customers when updates are due. However, if you feel like you may have missed an update or inadvertently turned off notifications, you may be interested in manually checking to make sure you’re running the latest version.
Most software packages have a “check for updates” option that you can access from the top menu. If you are concerned that your operating system may not be up to date, follow these steps:
Updating macOS on a Mac Computer
You can view the updating instructions on the Apple website or follow these steps:
Click the Apple icon in the upper-left corner of your screen
Click About This Mac
Click Software Update – a box will appear that will let you know whether or not updates are available.
Click Update Now if there is an update available.
If you have an option to Upgrade Now, it means that there is a new version of the operating system. You should upgrade this at your nearest opportunity, but this will take some time.
Updating a Windows Operating System
You can view the updating instructions on the Microsoft website or follow these steps:
Click Windows Update
If there is an update available, follow the prompts to secure your operating system from bugs and other vulnerabilites.
How to Make Sure Your Network is Updated
One of the easiest ways to ensure that your devices and software are up to date is by holding the individual users responsible for updating their equipment and the software they're licensed to use. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most unreliable ways. A managed service provider, like Flagler Technologies, can ensure that the components of your network and the software you run have current software updates and security patches. This should be part of your operational and security protocols.
Frequently Asked Questions About Software Updates
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions that our techs hear from clients. Contact Flagler Technologies with any specific questions you have.
What If Just a Few Computers Miss Updates?
This is one of those cases where your security is only as strong as the weakest link. If one of your units is infected with malware — depending on the malware — your network and the data contained therein may be vulnerable.
How Can I Ensure Compliance Among My Employees?
Your IT department or a managed service provider can develop monitoring protocols to ensure that all of the components of your system are updated.
What Should I Do if I Can’t Run an Update?
There are a number of reasons why you may not be able to run an update. Contact software support to discuss your issue.