You’re probably hard at work trying to get through that report when the annoying little screen pops up, you hit the snooze button thinking you’ll do it at the end of your work day, but find yourself clicking that snooze button again the next day. Sound familiar?
We all skip or ignore updates every once in a while, they seem to come at the wrong time, however, as inconvenient as the install process might be, from having to stop halfway though an important report and wait for a reboot, to deciding when to take a server offline for update when your business functions 24/7, it can be hard finding a good time, but we must recognize that these updates are extremely important for our online safety.
Possible Issues with out of date software
You might have heard of the 2017 Equifax breach where millions of user information including 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.
[Read more about what caused the Equifax breach]
What else can updates do?
Not all updates are related to security but overall, they can help improve productivity in different ways.
- New Features: Apart from security patches, vendors use software updates to push newly developed functionalities and features to your older software giving you new ways to get work done.
- Compliance: Some industries have very specific software requirements to meet up with industry standards, an outdated system or software can result to non-compliance depending on your field.
- Productivity: When errors also known as bugs are discovered in software releases, a fix can also be pushed as part of an update to reduce downtime due to software crashes which increases the levels of productivity.
- A software vulnerability is a security hole or weakness found in a software or operating system
- Software makers release updates to fix the security holes that have been found
- Hackers love unpatched vulnerabilities, they write malicious codes also called malware to target the vulnerability
- Malware are built to exploit known vulnerabilities, most of the popular hacks and breaches happen after a fix has been released
- Finally, it’s not all about you, think of the millions affected by the Equifax breach, and how much of other people’s data are in your possession.. Private chats, emails and possibly private information.
How up to date
Keeping one or two computers up to date can be as easy as clicking the update now button when updates are available, Microsoft Windows, Office, Google Chrome and most common software would generally offer updates once they are available, some of these updates require closing the application completely to properly install while others may require a full reboot of your computer, however, not all software makers provide an easy way to keep the software up to date, which means, in these cases, the user has to go and check the software maker’s website and manually download an updated version. While this might not be an issue with our home computers, losing a few minutes of work hours due to an update might be a cause for concern in a business environment, this is why some technology companies have developed a way of managing the how updates are downloaded and when they are installed on a fleet of computers from a central location, this is called Patch Management.
Whether a software maker pushes updates to computers when it is released or you have to go download it yourself, patch management is a great way to keep your IT infrastructure up-to-date and free of bugs and security risks, but without the right tools in place, it can be unnecessarily time-consuming for staff to look for and install patches. In addition to finding and installing software updates, patch management software also allow you do decide when you want these updates installed, which computers gets updated first and gives you a way to remove updates if they cause an issue.