Our lives are filled with technology, both at work and at home. The devices we use, from smartphones and tablets, to computers and machinery, allow us to do just about everything, courtesy of various operating systems and application software.
In order to prevent known vulnerabilities being exploited, these operating systems and software programs need to be kept up to date. From installing patches released by software developers to close security holes, to updating operating systems, it’s essential that nothing is overlooked. But just how often should software be updated? How often should you update your antivirus software? And what exactly needs to be kept up to date?
Read on as we answer all these questions, and more, explaining the security risks posed by out of date devices, and sharing tips on how best to secure the technology we depend upon from the latest cyber security threats.
Why is it important to update software regularly?
Device manufacturers and app developers tend to release software updates on a regular basis, until they decide their product is unsupported. Such updates will usually contain new features to enhance the user experience, bug fixes and performance improvements.
Updates will also often contain security patches and new security features. Installing these is vital.
Security patches are important, because they fix known flaws. These flaws can be used by cyber attackers to compromise your devices. New security features make it more of a challenge for attackers to compromise devices and steal data, encrypt files and render devices unusable.
A lot of devices and apps will install updates automatically. However, sometimes you will need to download and install the update yourself.
What needs to be updated?
It is important to ensure you keep each of the following types of software up to date:
Operating System (OS): The majority of operating systems support automatic updates, but you will need to enable that feature. Do check in case it’s been switched off, preventing your device operating system from being kept up to date.
Web browsers and browser extensions: Web browsers are very complex and as such as especially vulnerable. As they are exposed to risks from websites, flaws can easily be exploited. Again, automatic updates are common, but will need to be switched on.
Applications: Whether you install them yourself, or they come ready installed on your device, you’ll need to keep apps updated. Some will automatically updates, but others will need to be updated manually.
Antivirus: Why is it important to update antivirus software? Because antivirus updates include bug fixes and new features, as well as new signatures designed to detect the latest malware threats.
As well as needing to be switched on, automatic updates may also need certain conditions in order to work. For example:
- A WiFi connection
- To be connected to a power source
- To be plugged in or switched on at a certain time of day
- Sufficient device storage
- A manual restart
What about device and software support?
Devices, operating systems, software and apps will usually be supported for a limited time before they are considered obsolete and out of support.
It’s not always known when a product will go out of support. Keeping up to date with technology news and, at work, listening to the advice of your IT support professionals, will give you an idea. Any out of support software or devices should be replaced, because they will no longer provide updates and security patches, leaving them vulnerable to the latest cyber threats.
How often should you update your antivirus software?
Your antivirus software should be set as default to check for updates at least once a day, but it is worth checking to make sure this is the case. You can run an on the spot scan to check for the latest threats if you have any doubts.
Most antivirus software will carry out a full device scan once a week as standard. It is usually possible to customise the schedule, although a daily scan is usually overkill. Less than once a week however can be risky. If you ever feel that a device has come under threat, you can run a quick scan for peace of mind.
What should organisations be doing to ensure updates are not overlooked?
It is important to be aware that users can decline updates, so it is good practice to have a device management system in place to keep track of the status of devices.
If you operate a bring your own device policy, you may find it difficult to enforce users to update their software. If so, you may wish to restrict access to company data or resources for out of date devices.
Some enterprise networks might block update servers. Network administrators should therefore ensure that devices on their networks can reach update servers.
Be sure to include advice for device users on how to make sure software updates are being installed.
As well as software, operating system and application updates, make sure you are also deploying firmware updates.
Need help keeping your software up to date?
If your organisation could benefit from ongoing assistance with a device management system to ensure your users and their devices keep themselves protected from the latest cyber threats, our friendly experts here at PC Docs are on hand with all the advice and guidance you need.
To discuss your needs with an experienced IT consultant, you are welcome to get in touch.