One of the largest data breaches in recent times was back in 2017 when credit reporting agency, Equifax suffered a breach. Over 140 million sensitive customer details were compromised (including SSNs), putting all those consumers at risk of identity theft.
The breach happened due to a web portal software vulnerability that allowed the attackers to breach the system. A patch had come out a few months before the incident happened to fix that issue, but no one at Equifax ever applied the security patch, so the software was left as a sitting duck and hackers found the weakness.
Keeping systems updated in a timely manner is a vital element of good cybersecurity.
What’s Included in an Update?
Some companies and users will put off updates because they can sometimes have issues and “break” things that were working fine. If you don’t have a professional handling your updates through a managed services plan, then you are stuck trying to figure out what went wrong and how to get things back to the way they were.
But not applying updates is more problematic than dealing with the changes an update may make to your operating system or software. That’s because many updates include vital patches to newly found system vulnerabilities.
Hackers are always searching for new ways into a system, which means that applying updates is a continuous cycle as hackers exploit new code vulnerabilities.
One of the most recent Windows vulnerabilities has Microsoft urging users to update their system right away with a patch issued on July 6, 2021. A new security flaw called PrintNightmare was found that impacts the Windows Print Spooler service.
The vulnerability can allow hackers to:
- Install programs on a computer
- View and delete data on a computer
- Create new user accounts with full admin rights
So, a hacker could plant ransomware, take over your computer for crypto mining, steal all your sensitive files, access your email, and more.
When you see an update message on your screen for your firmware, OS, or software, that update can include the following things.
Patches to find vulnerabilities in code are included in updates and can often be the sole reason for an update to be issued. For example, the Windows PrintNightmare vulnerability could allow so much damage to be done, that the company issued an update outside its normal schedule to address the security problem.
Sometimes the code to run portions of an operating system, software, or firmware will have a flaw. This can cause annoying bugs, such as windows crashing or search not working properly in a program.
Bug fixes to address issues like that are also included in many updates.
New & Enhanced Features
Feature updates are also a big part of many computer updates. If you use a hybrid cloud service, like Microsoft 365 or Adobe Creative Cloud, you’ll see new features and even new software versions coming through those updates. SaaS providers add new features often to provide value and keep people subscribed to their services.
As technology advances, compatibility updates can be needed to keep up with an operating system advancement. For example, when Windows 10 added a “dark mode,” it wasn’t long after before several different software developers updated their code to be compatible with the feature and take advantage of that new capability.
What Needs to Be Updated?
There are three main types of code that need to be updated throughout your IT infrastructure.
Operating system updates for Windows, macOS, or another OS will update the very foundation of the code that runs your PC environment and all the programs.
When this is upgraded to a whole new version (such as when many users soon upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11), these updates will typically take a little longer and have a larger impact on your user experience.
The software that runs on your computer will all issue updates from time to time. These updates can look different in how they’re applied. Some may apply automatically by default, while others may just let you know an update is waiting and require it to be installed manually by the user.
Firmware updates are often missed because they tend to be less visible than OS or software updates. However, they are just as vital because the firmware is the code that tells the hardware how to run, how to load the operating system, etc.
Attacks on firmware have increased 5x in the last 4 years, making firmware updates even more important to do as part of your regular update schedule.
Stop Worrying About Updates & Have Them Handled by a Pro
Unbound Digital can help your Johnson City, Tennessee business stay secure and efficient with fully managed updates for OS, software, and firmware.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Call 423-335-2461 or reach us online.