System Updates: Why Hitting 'Ignore' is Hurting Your Security

Our world today is all about keeping up to date; up to date on the latest gadgets and releases, up to date on the latest news and celebrity gossips pushed right to your smartphone, even up to date on what our friends are doing across a half-dozen social media platforms.

But for some reason, people are choosing to ignore system updates on their favorite devices, software and add-ons. The logic behind this is pretty simple, relatable even. When an update notification appears on your screen at work, you click 'ignore' or 'remind me tomorrow'. You are busy and don't want to be disturbed with frivolous software request, which will probably need to be updated next week too.

But for those ten minutes you didn't waste updating your computer or programs, you may have opened up your corporate network to criminal intent. It may sound alarmist, but it's totally true. Ignoring system updates is bad for business.

So here are a few tips for 'how to prevent cyberattacks' by keeping your systems and software up to date.

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Even when applications are created with security in mind, there can often be gaps that leave the software open to digital incursion. Most of the time these problems are quickly patched by developers, so all consumers need to do is update their programs. But even a minor security gap can become a big problem if not addressed immediately.

It shouldn't surprise you to learn that hackers are kept informed of these software updates via news websites, hacking forums and exploit tutorials or malware kits available through the dark web. What you need to understand is that cybercriminals are as adept at exploiting employee negligence as they are utilizing software security gaps.

Of course, there are more enterprising hackers that develop and employ zero-day attacks rather than well-known security flaws. A zero-day attack is an exploited vulnerability that is previously unknown to the developer - meaning the vendor had zero days to correct the security hole before it was used by cyber crooks.

For example, the infamous zero-day exploit Heartbleed was once considered the most dangerous security flaw on the web. "The bug could be used to pull a chunk of working memory from any server running their current software," writes The Verge. "There was an emergency patch, but until it was installed, tens of millions of servers were exposed. Anyone running a server was suddenly in crisis mode."

As you can imagine, zero-day vulnerabilities are difficult to stymie by their very definition. However, some cybersecurity providers are experimenting with artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to detect, block and quarantine suspicious behavior, including zero-day attacks, before it can damage your corporate network.

Then there are the phony updates that pop up in your browser for time to time, urging you to update your Adobe Flash Player or antivirus software. Note that these are not legitimate reminders, but harmful Trojan programs in disguise. Never download anything from a third-party website!

In the end, the solution to preventing common cyberattacks is to enable automatic updates for all your systems or software programs, and avoid dubious downloads from unfamiliar sources. If you want to take things to the next level, hire an internal team of security professionals or enlist help from an agency. And finally, invest in cybersecurity insurance from a reputable provider.

While it's nearly impossible to dodge hackers forever, there are steps you can take to safeguard your organization from the most harmful effects of data breach. Visit CyberPolicy to learn more!

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