You’re not alone if you delay installing new software updates, even if prompted daily. People and companies wait to install new software updates for many reasons, including:
- Inconvenience: You may not want to disrupt your workflow, especially if it will take several minutes or an unknown amount of time.
- Uninformed: If you don’t understand the benefits of the update, you may believe there’s no need to install it if your system is functioning.
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind: If your update reminder isn’t on, you may forget to update your software.
If you’re one to avoid updates you run the risk of computer problems, incompatible apps, and worst of all, cyberattacks. So, to help prevent these headaches and risks, here’s everything you need to know about the importance of software updates.
Cybercriminals Do NOT Want You to Update Your Software
Hackers can’t easily access your systems with a few clicks of the mouse, especially if your cybersecurity is airtight. Instead, they take advantage of errors in your software or manipulate employees into giving them access to your systems. Outdated software enables:
Some cybercriminals email their victims links to websites containing malicious files. Once you click to open the web page you allow malware to infiltrate your system.
You should be using up-to-date web browsers and plug-ins with anti-malware capabilities to alert you to risky websites. However, if you don’t keep your software updated, some malicious sites won’t be on their watchlist and flagged.
Known Software Vulnerabilities
When developers build apps and systems, they design them to restrict access based on privileges. User profiles on your computer are examples of this. A normal user is restricted in what they’re allowed to do, use, or change. Depending on how restrictive the privileges are, they may not be able to download and install new apps. This is done to prevent unauthorized users from doing something they shouldn’t—either by accident, or on purpose.
Some users, on the other hand, have administrator privileges, and can modify system settings, add or remove programs, or otherwise manipulate a more comprehensive list of functions on the device. This enables them to fix problems, set up profiles, determine their privileges, and more.
The problem is that no program or system is perfect. No matter how well designed or coded, every system has loopholes in the lines of code, and exploiting them is primarily a matter of finding them before the bad actors do. The original developers are always on the lookout for issues in their code and will update or patch these vulnerabilities when found.
Software updates are integral in keeping a program or system protected, but they only help if they’re actually installed. The longer you go without accepting security patches, the more likely it is that a hacker will be able to exploit the vulnerabilities in your system.
This was the case in the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 — a cyberattack that infected systems all over the globe. These attacks were made possible because the original infected systems had not updated their software. Despite being warned that their software was vulnerable to cyberattacks the year prior, many organizations failed to take any action.
Other cybercriminals manage to retrieve credentials from specific accounts within your company. This way, they can access your systems using valid credentials and cause significant damage to management systems and even remote desktops.
These attacks are often harder to detect, especially if the perpetrator chooses not to use malware and wreaks havoc manually. Worst of all, they’re more common with outdated software that doesn’t have refined or advanced authentication processes to properly identify its users.
[Related Reading: Why Humans Are the Weakest Link in Cybersecurity]
Vulnerable Software Can Wreak Havok on Your Business
Cyberattacks can leave long-lasting negative consequences for organizations:
- Financial cost: When systems become damaged from cyberattacks, organizations often must spend anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars on repairs. Theft of financial information or ransomware extortion also adds to the cost of an attack that could have been avoided.
- Damaged reputation: When existing and potential customers hear a business has been hacked, they can lose trust and confidence that their personal and sensitive information will be safe. This may lead to churn, lower sales and a reduction in profits.
- Legal complications: If the personal information of your customers is breached during a cyberattack, your company may become the target of fines and sanctions from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other regulatory agencies, as well as customer lawsuits.
Updated Software Works Better
By updating your software regularly (when prompted), it functions at its peak performance:
- Perhaps the most obvious benefit of keeping your systems updated is the increased security businesses can enjoy. Outdated systems leave plenty of vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit, but updated systems help businesses patch up those access points and keep their data protected.
- Additionally, software updates make your systems better at recognizing security threats, so even if you are attacked, you can be alerted to take relevant action.
Improved User Satisfaction
Aside from security improvements, software updates are made to improve the software’s usability. For example, if you compare the modern iteration of Microsoft Word to the original version, you can see a clear difference in usability. Continuous updates have made the software significantly more user-friendly and improved its functionality.
By updating your software regularly, you can access these user-interface improvements, which can then enhance your employees’ or customers’ user experience with your business software.
If your business regularly upgrades its hardware (computers and servers), it’s also wise to update your software. These updates are designed to extend the life of your devices by making them capable of using and interfacing with newer programs and systems. The longer you go without updating, the more likely it is that a new release won’t function on the device.
Alert Logic’s Updates for Secure Information
Alert Logic’s managed detection and response (MDR) software as a service (SaaS) is continuously updated to stay ahead of potential and emerging cybersecurity threats.
We accomplish this through regular software changes and maintenance throughout the year and we keep our customers updated on every change we make so they are never left in the dark.
Alert Logic MDR works across public cloud, hybrid environments, and on-premises to provide vital information on your security posture and detect threats to your business.
Ready to protect your company with MDR? Request a demo from Alert Logic today!