Getting Serious About Security: Updates

Aug 8, 2018

We know updates are annoying. They pop up at inconvenient times and remind you that you need to shut down and restart your machine. Who has time to shut down a machine in the middle of the workday? However, these updates are crucial to your virtual security. The software companies sending you those updates have entire departments dedicated to finding problems and security flaws in their products. They test and patch, correct mistakes, and then release them in the form of an inconveniently timed, annoying pop-up.

We all know this screen. Grin and bear it.

There are a few things you can do to keep at least some of the annoyances at bay.

Make updates automatic. Most software packages allow for automatic updates. Heck, even your operating system will update on the fly if you let it. You’ll probably have to manually confirm the installation of a major update, but small improvements and updates are often installed in the background and you never notice.

Configure Windows security. On your Windows-based PC, you can configure the machine to check for updates at specific times, so your workday isn’t interrupted. Make sure, though, that you pick a time that the machine is actually on. The machine can’t check for updates while it’s turned off. The next time you turn it on, you’ll be upset by the spinning wheel while updates complete!

Avoid end-of-life software. Some people just can’t let go of Adobe Reader IX. I don’t know why. It doesn’t do anything special, and Adobe has released multiple new versions since IX. Software that’s been labeled with “end of life” means that no one checks for flaws or sends out patches (RIP Windows XP). If the last update was two years ago, how can you feel safe? You’re vulnerable every time you open the program.

No one budgets time in a workday for software updates. When you sit down at your machine, you usually have a goal in mind that likely doesn’t involve watching a progress bar creep across the screen. But you need software updates to stay safe. What if all your work was lost because of a ransomware attack? Maybe hackers got to your machine through your out-of-date accounting software. Be smart. Be safe. Take the 15 minutes to update your software!