Why keeping your software up to date is important for cybersecurity?

Software updates are essential for maintaining the security and performance of your devices and applications. They can protect you from cyber threats, improve your user experience, and ensure compatibility with other software and hardware. Here are some of the benefits and tips for keeping your software up to date.

Benefits of Software Updates

  • Tightened security: Software updates often include patches that fix vulnerabilities or bugs that hackers can exploit to access your system or data. By installing the latest updates, you can reduce the risk of cyberattacks and protect your personal and business information.
  • Improved user satisfaction: Software updates are not only about security, but also about enhancing the functionality and usability of your software. They can offer new features, better performance, faster speed, and more stability. By updating your software, you can enjoy a smoother and more satisfying user experience.
  • Sustained compatibility: Software updates can also help you avoid compatibility issues with other software and hardware. For example, if you use an outdated web browser, you may not be able to access some websites or online services that require the latest version. Similarly, if you use an outdated app, you may not be able to sync it with your device or cloud storage. By updating your software, you can ensure that it works well with other systems and devices.

Tips for Software Updates

  • Enable automatic updates: Most software and apps have an option to automatically download and install updates as soon as they are available from the developer. This is the easiest way to keep your software up to date without having to check for updates manually. You can usually find this option in the settings or preferences menu of your software or app.
  • Check for updates regularly: If you prefer to update your software manually, you should make it a habit to check for updates regularly. You can usually find this option in the help or about menu of your software or app. You should also visit the official website of the developer to see if there are any new updates or announcements.
  • Update all your software: You should not only update your operating system, but also all the software and apps that you use on your device. This includes web browsers, plug-ins, antivirus programs, office suites, games, and more. You should also update the firmware of your device, which is the software that controls its basic functions.

What are fake update scams?

Fake update scams are a type of social engineering attack that tries to trick you into downloading and installing a malicious file that pretends to be a software update. The attackers usually compromise legitimate websites and inject malicious code that redirects you to a fake update page that looks very similar to the official one. The fake update page will claim that your software is outdated and that you need to update it immediately to view the content or fix security issues. If you click on the update button, you will download a file that contains ransomware, spyware, or other types of malware that can harm your computer or steal your personal information.

Fake update scams can target any type of software, such as web browsers, operating systems, antivirus programs, media players, office suites, etc. You should always be vigilant and cautious when you see an update page for any software that you use.

How to avoid fake update scams?

The best way to avoid fake update scams is to never download or install software updates from unknown or suspicious sources. You should always use the official channels and methods provided by the software developers to check for and apply updates. Here are some tips on how to do that for some of the most popular software:

  • Web browsers: Web browsers usually update themselves automatically whenever they detect that a new version is available. You can also manually check for updates by accessing the settings or help menu of your browser and looking for an option to check for updates. If an update is available, it will be downloaded and installed automatically. You can also visit the official download page of your browser to get the latest version of it.
  • Operating systems: Operating systems also update themselves automatically in the background. You can manually check for updates by accessing the system settings or preferences of your operating system and looking for an option to check for updates. If an update is available, you can download and install it manually or schedule it for later. You can also visit the official website of your operating system to get the latest version of it.
  • Other applications: Other applications may have different ways of updating themselves, depending on their developer and functionality. Some applications may notify you when an update is available by showing a pop-up window or a notification icon on your screen. Some applications may require you to access their settings or help menu and look for an option to check for updates. Some applications may direct you to their official website or download page to get the latest version of them. You should always follow the instructions provided by the application developer to update your software safely and securely.

How to spot fake update scams?

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if an update page is genuine or not, especially if it looks very similar to the official one. However, there are some signs that can help you spot fake update scams and avoid them. Here are some of them:

  • The URL of the update page does not match the official domain of the software developer. For example, if you see a URL like https://windows-update.com or https://adobe-flash-player.net, it is most likely a fake update scam.
  • The update page has spelling or grammatical errors, or uses poor language or formatting.
  • The update page asks you to download an executable file (such as .exe, .dmg, .msi, etc.) instead of directing you to the official download page of the software.
  • The update page tries to scare you or pressure you into updating your software by claiming that your software is severely outdated, insecure, or incompatible with certain websites or features.
  • The update page offers you additional software or services that are unrelated to your software or that you did not request.

If you encounter any of these signs, do not click on any links or buttons on the update page and close it immediately. Then, scan your computer with a reputable antivirus program to make sure that your system is not infected with malware.

General Compliance

The University of Idaho’s Administrative Procedures Manual (APM) 30.111 states that all university-owned devices must be configured to automatically receive and install software updates from approved sources. The Office of Information Technology (OIT) provides a centralized service for managing software updates for Windows and Mac devices using Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager (MECM) and Jamf Pro, respectively. These tools allow OIT to monitor and report on the software update compliance status of university-owned devices, and to deploy software updates in a timely and efficient manner.

The OIT Data Security Standards2 require that all devices connected to the university network must have the latest security patches installed within 30 days of their release. Devices that are not compliant with this requirement may be blocked from accessing the network until they are updated. Additionally, the OIT Data Security Standards2 prohibit the use of unauthorized or unsupported software on university-owned or personal devices that access or store university data. Unauthorized or unsupported software includes software that is not licensed, not approved by OIT, or no longer receives security updates from the vendor.

In addition to the general compliance requirements, the University of Idaho has some specific compliance policies and standards for certain software applications that are widely used or critical for the university’s operations. These include:

  • Microsoft Office 365: The University of Idaho has a campus-wide license for Microsoft Office 365, which provides access to the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive, Teams, and other productivity tools. Office 365 applications are updated automatically through the cloud, so users do not need to manually check for updates. However, users should ensure that they have a stable internet connection and sufficient disk space to receive the updates. Users should also restart their devices regularly to apply the updates.
  • Zoom: The University of Idaho uses Zoom as the official video conferencing platform for teaching, learning, research, and collaboration. Zoom releases frequent updates to improve its functionality, security, and user experience. Users should always update Zoom to the latest version before joining or hosting a meeting. Users can check for updates by clicking on their profile picture in the Zoom app and selecting “Check for Updates”. Users can also enable automatic updates in the Zoom settings.
  • Web browsers: The University of Idaho supports the use of modern web browsers that adhere to web standards and provide a secure and consistent browsing experience. These include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari. Users should always update their web browsers to the latest version to avoid compatibility issues and security risks. Users can check for updates by accessing the browser’s settings or help menu.

By keeping your software up to date, you can improve your cybersecurity and enjoy a better digital experience. Remember to always download updates from trusted sources and avoid clicking on suspicious links or attachments that may contain malware. For more information on how to stay safe online, visit National Cybersecurity Alliance.

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Article ID: 2770
Wed 10/18/23 10:09 AM
Tue 5/14/24 11:31 AM