July 1, 2014
Wondering what to do with emails that suggest you download new or updated software? What about those annoying update messages that appear on your device’s screen from time-to-time? You probably understand that updating device software is a key part of maintaining security. But, you also know that downloading and installing software can be dangerous. What to do? This training bulletin provides guidance on how to safely keep your device(s) updated.
Why is this important? Cyber thieves are constantly discovering software vulnerabilities to attack. Through such holes, malware can be inadvertently installed on a device – YOUR device - simply by visiting an infected webpage or opening a malicious file. The installed malware can then be used to compromise computer systems. In response, developers publish software updates, also known as patches, to close the holes and prevent such attacks. Keeping device software updated has become a key part of computer system security.
Sounds easy enough - install updates when available. But, cyber thieves are clever and try to fool users into installing bogus updates that contain malware. Separating the good from the bad is tricky business. Following the guidance below can help you learn to install updates safely. It will take practice, but regular software updating is an important habit for all device users to develop.
Keeping your device updated can seem like a daunting task. How to begin? First, it is critical to update antivirus and anti-spyware programs as soon as new definitions are available. Applications most prone to attack should be next. Focus first on the parts of your system that thieves normally target. These include operating systems (e.g. Windows XP, or 7), web browsers (e.g. IE, Firefox, Chrome), helper programs used to run applications and read/play files (e.g. Java, Adobe PDF Reader, Flash, QuickTime).
If in doubt, the safest way to check for and install updates is from within each program. To do so, start the program you want to check, click on the “Help” pulldown menu, click the “Check for Updates” menu item, and follow the instructions.