Do you know the saying “the devil is in the details”? Computer updates, which are also called software updates or patching, are one of those pesky details that deserve your dedicated attention.
Computer updates are #4 on our 15 ways to protect your business from a cyber attack. See the entire list in this article here.
Updates may seem rather small and insignificant, but still, to this day, cybercriminals are exploiting networks that are not updated with the latest security patches.
What is it about updates that the experts make sound so critical? Is your dental or medical practice in the Phoenix area vulnerable to attacks just by falling back on a few updates?
The Patchwork of Protection
What Are Computer Updates, Software Updates, and Patches?
When we talk about updates, we encounter a vast realm of possibilities.
Software updates, computer updates, or “patching” are ways to improve and fix problems with your computer’s programs and operating system. It’s like getting minor upgrades or fixes to make your computer work better, faster, and more securely. These updates are similar to updating apps on your phone, keeping your computer up to date and protected from bugs or security issues. They help ensure your computer is more secure, runs smoothly, and stays compatible with new technologies and features.
Software updates hold one of the keys to safeguarding your digital kingdom.
According to Verizon Data Breach Investigations, 70% of attacks came through known vulnerabilities on unpatched computers (and a patch was available).
An unpatched computer or old software is like an open gate into your facility’s computer systems and network, and there’s nothing that intruders love more!
This is true, and this is such an easy way for hackers to gain access to a system because software vulnerabilities are published to the public when a software update becomes available.
An Explanation of Why Patching Is Critical
Imagine you have a computer with a new operating system, like Windows 11 from Microsoft. When it was first released, the developers knew it wasn’t perfect because creating flawless software is challenging. They had to meet deadlines, so they made it “good enough for now.”
As people started installing Windows 11, the developers continued working on the program to fix minor issues and make the software more secure. When they made significant improvements, they released an update, along with release notes explaining what they fixed and how they enhanced security.
Here’s where cybercriminals come in. They analyze these release notes to identify vulnerabilities they can exploit. Once they understand how to exploit these weaknesses, they search for computers without the updates. Finding an unpatched computer is like finding an open door—it gives them easy access to that computer or network.
That’s why it’s crucial to install updates promptly!
You might wonder why developers publish release notes if it gives cybercriminals insights into vulnerabilities. The truth is, if developers didn’t share release notes, people wouldn’t know why they should update. Simply saying, “Update #1 is available. Trust us!” wouldn’t give enough information to understand why the update was released.
By publishing release notes, developers inform users about the fixes and security enhancements, encouraging them to stay protected by updating their systems. It’s about transparency and keeping everyone informed to avoid cyber threats.
Extreme Example: 2017 WannaCry Ransomware Outbreak
The 2017 WannaCry outbreak is a perfect example of how dangerous it can be to have unpatched computers.
If you’re unfamiliar with this event, an estimated 230,000 to 300,000 computers across 150 countries were infected with the WannaCry ransomware over just a few hours. The estimated damages range between hundreds of millions of dollars to billions of dollars.
The hackers were obviously skilled at their craft, but the only reason they could inflict so much damage so fast was due to unpatched computers. If you want to get more detail on this, read the first two paragraphs on the Wikipedia page about this incident.
This is an extreme example. However, computers with unpatched operating systems or other software are getting exploited every day, so it is vital to stay vigilant in keeping all the computers and other devices in your organization up to date and patched.
Operating systems like Windows, macOS, or Linux often require updates. These updates include fixes for security vulnerabilities, improvements to system performance, and new features. Updating your operating system ensures that your computer or device remains secure and functions optimally.
Web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge also require regular updates. Browser updates often address security issues, enhance compatibility with websites and web standards, and introduce new functionalities. Updating your browser is essential for safer browsing, improved performance, and a better web experience.
Phone Operating Systems:
Phone operating systems, like iOS (for iPhones) and Android, frequently receive updates. These updates bring security patches, bug fixes, performance enhancements, and new features to your phone. Updating your phone’s operating system ensures you have the latest security protections and access to the most current capabilities.
Mobile apps on your phone, such as social media apps, productivity tools, or games, also need regular updates. App updates often include bug fixes, performance optimizations, new features, and security enhancements. It’s important to update your apps to ensure they work correctly, remain secure, and provide you with the latest features and improvements.
In addition to operating systems, browsers, and phone-related software, other applications on your computer may also require updates.
Software like antivirus programs, productivity suites such as Microsoft Office, media players, and graphic editing tools often release updates. These updates address security vulnerabilities, fix bugs, introduce new features, and enhance performance. Staying up to date with software updates helps maintain a secure and efficient computing environment.
Regularly checking for and installing updates helps keep your digital experiences smooth, secure, and up-to-date.
How to Stay Current with Updates & Patching in Your Business
For business owners in the Phoenix/Mesa area with multiple employees and various devices to manage, keeping everything up to date can be daunting. However, you don’t have to do it all alone. Here are a few options for how to implement patching:
Educate your employees about the importance of updates and security practices. To ensure patches and updates are installed on all company-owned computers, you can require that your employees promptly install updates. Regular training sessions and communication about the significance of updates can create a culture of proactive security within the organization.
This is a quick and easy way to check the box of trying to accomplish patch management. However, it can lead to many questions, and if employees choose not to do it, it’s hard to know that all systems are up to date.
In-House IT Team:
An in-house employee, such as a junior IT engineer or any other employee, can manage and implement updates across the organization. This task can be done by going from one computer to the next and installing updates. This task should be done weekly.
This option is a little resource-intensive but is also a quick and easy way to check the box of trying to accomplish patch management. This method can also be disruptive to your employees, who will need to step away from their computers temporarily while installing the updates. If not well managed, this method will likely lead to unpatched computers and vulnerabilities in the system.
Outsourced IT Service Partners:
Business owners can work with outsourced IT service providers, such as AZCOMP Technologies, that provide comprehensive IT support. These providers can take care of patching and updates. They have the software tools to handle updates and patching automatically after hours or over the weekend. Outsourcing IT responsibilities to a trusted IT partner will ensure that the patching gets done every week without fail and without disrupting your operations.
This option is the best in terms of making sure that patching is actually done on a schedule. Rest easy knowing that your computers and software are up to date. The downside is that it is an extra expense to the business.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that one-way-or-another, patching needs to be done every week without fail. If not, the business is needlessly at higher risk of cyberattack.
About AZCOMP Technologies:
AZCOMP Technologies of Mesa, AZ, is a leading provider of Managed IT services and technology solutions for businesses. AZCOMP’s mission is to help enterprises to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase cybersecurity through innovative tech solutions.
AZCOMP Technologies has provided business technology solutions and cybersecurity services since 2000. AZCOMP offers these services in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Apache Junction, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Gold Canyon, and more. Request your IT consultation today!