In today's environment of frequent operating system and application software vulnerabilities, as well as viruses and worms that exploit those weaknesses, we must all take a more proactive approach to security. In addition to having the latest antivirus definitions and a software firewall, you should also keep your operating system software up to date. Keeping current with all appropriate updates and patches will provide an added layer of security that will help ensure the integrity, confidentiality and security of your personal electronic information.
How Do I Know If I Need an Update?
Software companies release regular updates not only to address security concerns, but other issues that help keep your system running smoothly. You'll probably hear about security problems in the media or on the web, but a proactive approach will save you from future headaches. We recommend that you check with your operating system manufacturer once a week to see if any new patches have been distributed for your system.
Windows Operating Systems
Microsoft has a program called Windows Update to simplify updating for its users. Usually, there is a shortcut from the Start Menu or in Internet Explorer that will take you to www.windowsupdate.com, or you can enter that address manually into your browser. There is also an option to have Windows perform these updates automatically, using the Automatic Update feature.
Once at the website, scan your system for any applicable updates. You will be provided with a tailored selection of updates that apply only to the items on your computer. During the scan, a list of categories appears under Welcome to Windows Update. You'll see how many are available in each category, in parentheses.
Critical Updates Are Important!
Any update that is important to the operation of your computer is called a "Critical Update," and is automatically selected for installation when your security software scans for available updates. These updates are provided to help resolve known issues, and to protect your computer from known security vulnerabilities. Whether a critical update applies to your operating system, software programs, or hardware, it is listed in the "Critical Updates" category. For maximum security, you should install any Critical Updates and Service Packs.
Alternative Systems (Macintosh, Linux, etc.,)
Note: In order to receive any kind of update, you must be connected to the Internet.
Remember, nothing can protect you from absolutely every dangerous element out there in cyberspace. But you can take these simple steps to greatly increase the security of your system. In addition to antivirus software and installing a software firewall, keeping your operating system up to date is a key component. The more aware and proactive you are, the better.