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Online Safety

Software Updates

Online Safety

No matter how careful a programmer is, it is difficult not to make mistakes when building a complex computer program. These mistakes can lead to problems when the software is used, causing the program to crash or otherwise malfunction. These problems, often called "bugs," may open a vulnerability that would allow a malicious hacker to attack your computer. Be aware that all software applications are susceptible to these vulnerabilities.

When these vulnerabilities are discovered, the software companies and vendors issue "patches" that fix the specific problems. You need to be sure you download and install these patches.

It is imperative that you check your software vendors' web sites on a regular basis for new security patches or use automated patching features that some software applications offer. If you don't have the time to do the work yourself, you can download and install a utility program to do it for you. Stay informed!

Why Should I Patch My System?
It is important to keep your software up to date by applying the latest vulnerability patches. 
The unfortunate tendency of companies, agencies, and even private citizens not to patch their systems is one reason that many worms cause as much havoc as they do.
Reasons for installing software patches include everything from repairing stability issues and interoperability to making the software less susceptible to malware. Some are intended to fix bugs in the program; a recent Microsoft Windows update fixed a bug that made it impossible to log on to a website automatically. Another reason to patch your systems is to keep them running reliably and to prevent large-scale security problems.

Why Are So Many Computers Left Unpatched?
Whether or not to patch a system can be a difficult decision, as it can sometimes cause unexpected problems. System administrators of large networks have to spend the time to test each new patch thoroughly. And if the patch results in a system malfunction, the administrator may be required to do extensive re-programming in order to make the system both safe and effective. Others make the erroneous assumption that if there is not currently a known exploit, there is no need to apply the patch.
This complacency is a dangerous trend, as the ever-increasing number of security issues needs to be matched by the zeal of both system administrators, and home users.

Meltdown and Spectre
In early 2018, two critical vulnerabilities were identified that affected modern processors. These bugs allow malicious programs to steal data from other programs they wouldn't normally have access to. If you use an Apple/iOS device, Android device, or a computer you can be affected (so, basically everyone). It is important to keep yourself safe from these exploits by making sure to update your operating software. Several patches have been issued to address these vulnerabilities, so make sure that your devices are up to date.