Does it ever feel like you’re always being asked to “update” your phone, laptop, or tablet?

An “update” for your device is a like a full-body workout, exercising every muscle and improving performance. A “patch” is the maintenance between workouts, stretching and keeping your device healthy one element at a time. Every device we own—your phone, home computer, smart watch, etc.—requires regular updates. Typically, this process seems cumbersome and annoying, but applying these patches can save you a lot of time, money and headache!

Like cardio for your health, updates are critical for your devices.

Why sweat it?

If a device is connected to the internet, it’s inherently vulnerable to fraudsters and phishers. As new weaknesses are discovered, various companies (Microsoft, Adobe, Garmin, etc.) push protective updates along to you: the end customer. That’s when our real work begins. For starters, don’t ignore the update notification!

By patching your devices and keeping them updated, you make it harder for hackers to take over your machine, access your information, extort money, steal your credentials. . . the list goes on.

By keeping your devices up-to-date, you’re also protecting others. Some criminals will secretly gain access to your machine in order to build a “botnet.” A botnet is basically thousands (or more) connected, hacked devices all being used towards a common goal. Typically, the common goal includes attacking another individual, company or government entity to knock them offline, deliver large-scale ransomware, or disable a program.

Get in a routine

Many companies will push out patches and updates weekly. Here are a few key tips to make sure the updates go through:

  1. Many devices have a function that allows regular updates by default. Windows Updates, for example, will keep you safe in the most painless way possible.
  2. If your device asks for an update, take the time to apply it. Use trusted sources such as Windows Updates and the “Settings” menu to manually make sure the patch is applied.
  3. For connected devices, such as smartwatches, make sure to occasionally connect to the administrative consoles. From there, you’ll know when a patch is needed and how to apply it.

Patches and updates protect our own devices from hackers and secure us against botnets. Like a good daily workout, a little bit of routine legwork goes a long way!

Have a cyber secure day!

P.S. Curious to learn more about cybersecurity? Check out our article on “Simple Tips for Even Better WiFi Security.”

By Will Klotz, CISSP, Information Security Analyst at Camden National Bank