Keeping your Systems Updated
Keeping computers, smartphones and tablets updated and patched is critical to fending off cyber criminals.
Patches and updates play a key role in fixing security problems that leave your device vulnerable to attack and compromise. The impact of not keeping systems updated is currently being felt by Suffolk County, a municipality recently the target of a cyber-attack in December of 2021. The investigation, originally reported in September 2022, revealed that cybercriminals entered via the county clerk’s office, exploiting a flaw in an obscure but commonplace piece of software, as reported by the New York Times. Cybercriminals allegedly spent nine months in systems before being detected. Had this software been updated and patched, the attackers likely would not have been able to compromise the clerk’s office. It is an everyday reminder to always keep your devices updated and patched to lower the risk of compromise. Suffolk County residents can visit the Suffolk County Government home page for details and the status of the county’s response to the attack.
While cybercriminals continue to develop new methods to steal information and gain access to systems, there are simple, proactive measures to lower the risk of compromise. By updating your systems as needed, you are patching security flaws. Security is the top reason to update software as soon as an update is available. Software vulnerabilities enable cybercriminals to access a person’s computer or business network. They see these vulnerabilities as open doors, enabling them to plant malware on people’s systems.
Installing new updates may also add new features and remove old ones that are unnecessary. Technology is continuously changing, and updates offer the latest features and improvements.
If a cybercriminal gets through a software security flaw, they will likely search for personal data like your financial information, passwords, usernames, or other sensitive information. If this information is accessed by someone other than you, it can use to lock you out of your files and accounts, among other exposure points.
Update wisely. Because cyber criminals know how essential updates are – they also tout fake update messages. These fake notices can appear as a pop-up or email, although they may seem legitimate, clicking may put you at risk. Instead, always double-check the vendor’s website and email address to confirm a developer update available. Notice of new updates and patches typically appear on the vendor’s website, in the app store, or within the associated program.
One of the best ways to combat intrusion is to set your programs and operating systems to update automatically.
For more tips on keeping systems updated to protect information from cybercriminals, please visit our Cybersecurity Center.