There is a legion of hackers out there who have just ONE goal in mind: to find a new access to your computer through in a commonly installed software such as Adobe, Flash or QuickTime, among others. What they are  looking for is a vulnerability.

In computer security, a vulnerability is a weakness which allows the hacker to violate the security policy and compromise the computer system and expose access to the data. An exposure allows an attacker to gather information undetected. What would happen if your business data gets into hands of a cybercriminal?

Vulnerability can be described as a combination of these 3 components:

  • a system susceptibility or flaw
  • hacker’s access to the flaw
  • hacker’s ability to exploit the flaw

To exploit a vulnerability, an attacker typically uses piece of code or a process that uses the vulnerability to bypass system’s restrictions and connect to a system weakness.

When trying to gain unauthorized access to a system, an intruder usually first conducts a routine scan (or investigation) of the target, collects any ‘exposed’ data, and then exploits security policy weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities and exposures are therefore both important points to check when securing a system against unauthorized access.

Vulnerability Exploits are a serious business

Over 35,400 exploits have been documented and archived in the Exploit Database so far. It is highly probable and possible that your system is susceptible at least to one of them!

Software companies frequently issue patches and multiple updates for KNOWN security bugs.  Once a known vulnerability is announced, hackers immediately try to figure out how to exploit the vulnerability and access those systems that have been neglected and are behind on updates. That’s why it’s crucial to run updates on software installed on your PCs and servers, immediately upon a new patch release.

We are monitoring our clients’ network and handling these updates for them; if you have a professional, reputable IT company handling your business computer network, they are probably doing it for your business,  but your home computers, smartphone, and other devices that may NOT be under the same protection and may need extra attention. IT is especially important if you or your employees enjoy the benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach (Related: Working from home? DON’T until you read this.) You must ensure your home network is updated and patched – and you must convey this message to your employees, as well.

Without the timely updates to your software, you can put your entire business network at risk.

Is your network open to vulnerabilities? Not sure about security? We can help!

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call us (855) 551-7760 or Request a Consultation today.

While updating software isn’t hard to do, and if you have not yet learned how to do it, here are a few tips on keeping your computer system software and third-party applications up-to-date.

Perform System Software Updates

In addition to running system updates as soon as possible after a new release to install patches for bug fixes, it is important to remember that timely updates will help your system perform better.

When up running and online, computers typically periodically run the check for updates automatically and then prompt you to update. In our busy lives, these prompts may go unnoticed or ignored from time to time. That is why it is important to regularly check for updates even when not prompted.

How to  update your system software on Windows

  1. Click the Windows icon in your task bar to open up the Start menu on the bottom left corner of your desktop screen.
  2. Click on “All Programs.”
  3. Click on “Windows Update,” wait for Windows Update window to open.
  4. Click on “Check for Updates”.
  5. Once Windows checked for updates, and if updates are available, click on “Install.”
  6. When the updates have finished installing, if prompted, restart your computer.

How to update system software on a Mac:

  1. Click the Apple button on menu.
  2. Click on “Software Update.”
  3. Once Software Update finished, if updates are available they will be displayed.
  4. Click “Show Details” to see any updates Software Update wants to install.
  5. If you want to proceed with installation, just click the “Install” button to run the updates.

Most of the time you don’t have to worry about messing up your system with an update going wrong, update wizards are pretty straight-forward. You can always get back to a restore point Window Update creates in cases something does not go as planned (Mac users can take advantage of Time Machine backup).

You can also ask your IT department if your personal devices are covered under their Managed Services plan – and if they are able to assist you with the updates if you are too worried about doing them yourself.

Third-Party Software Applications Updates

Third-party software is the programs that were installed in addition to those that came pre-installed with your computer’s operating system; their updates are NOT part of your machine’s operating system (OS) updates process: you must run those updates yourself (unless your IT department runs them for you.)

Windows 3-rd party software updates:

Because third-party software is created by different companies, the way you update may be different from one to another. Here are a few versions of what may happen with an update process:

  • Some software updates automatically by itself – such as web browsers (for example, Firefox and Google Chrome). It may not be true in cases where you disabled automatic updates – in this case, you have to run a manual update.
  • Some other software may also update automatically, or notify you of an update as soon as it is available. At that time, you can you can choose whether to install a new version of the software or not. Most software will allow you to check for updates manually. There should be an option “Check for Updates” option in one of the program’s menus. Please, note that with manual updates, the location of where the software should run may vary.
  • Some software (rarely) will not even notify you of updates. It is always a good idea to visit the software’s website in order to find out if a new version is released. If it is available, download the latest version and install it (you may need to replace a previous version, if prompted.)

Mac 3-rd party software updates:

  • If you downloaded an application from the Mac App Store, click on App Store button
  • In the Mac App Store, click the “Updates” tab
  • A red alert button will notify you if  and when update is available for a specific application
  • You can choose to update all at once, or run updates one at a time.

We recommend setting a day and time each week – for example, each Friday morning – to check for new updates to minimize the risk of important updates slipping through your busy schedule. Updating your software should be a basic security and performance step you should be taking to keep your PC (or a Mac) and other devices on your computer network up-to-date and performing at their best.

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