You’ve probably received a pop-up message asking you to update your computer on multiple occasions. Do you always do it right away? Many find this message to be annoying or insignificant. But putting off software updates leaves your computer and private files exposed to hackers, malware and viruses. Don’t wait around for hackers to hit; patching up your system should be your top priority.
What is a Patch?
A patch (also known as an update) is a publically-available software fix designed to address a specific security issue or known bug. These issues arise when the software’s old code no longer protects it from threats and new code is required. More than 90% of software and operating system (OS) updates are to patch security vulnerabilities in programs — so when you neglect these reminders, your computer’s risk for infection skyrockets.
Hackers love when people put off patching their devices. Not only are hackers commonly the ones who discover the weakness, but since new patches are free and advertised to all, hackers are given a big heads-up that there’s a vulnerability out there just waiting to get hacked. They also know that people tend to drag their feet when addressing their software updates, allotting them enough time to create an insert malware into the defective system. The longer you wait, the bigger of a head start you’re giving hackers.
What Is a Hotfix?
The terms hotfix and patch are commonly intermingled. While functionally they do the same thing, they do differ in a few ways. Hotfixes, unlike patches, can be applied directly to the company’s servers and require no shutdown or reboot. Because the company would typically be initiating the hotfix, they are not publically available.
Is My Computer Up-to-Date?
Each operating system is a little different, here’s how you can check if yours is up-to-date:
Windows: Microsoft allows you to automatically update by turning on the “Windows Update” feature. You access this feature using your “Control Panel.” Get step-by-step instructions on installing new software updates on Microsoft’s Update website.
Macintosh: with the introduction of OS X Yosemite, you can now automatically install updates as needed. To manually find out if our computer is up-to-date click on the Apple symbol on the upper-left corner and select “Software Updates.”
Linux: there are a variety of Linux versions out there—you can find your particular update requirements here.
For more information on cyber security, please visit Fighting Identity Crime’s Cybersecurity Center.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.