Pagoda Blog

Why You Should Download the Latest Security Patches and Software Updates

May 6, 2021

When new software or the latest version of an existing software system is released, the work of the developers is hardly done. Because of the near constant evolution of technology, and human error, vulnerabilities always emerge. This is where security patches come in. 


Security patches work to protect you from software vulnerabilities before cybercriminals use them to gain access to your device(s) or those of your entire company network. The catch? The patches only work if you download the latest software and operating system updates when your device prompts you to do so. It’s such a simple and highly effective cybersecurity measure, but too often, many of the computers, smartphones, and other devices across a company’s team (especially if employees are working remote) are running on outdated, and therefore vulnerable, software. 


How does a security patch work? 

A security patch is essentially a piece of code written by software developers that fixes a discovered vulnerability. Vulnerabilities can either be discovered by a white hat hacker or a malicious hacker. The hope is that the white hat hacker (a skilled programmer who’s trained to review software code for weak points) will discover it first so that a security patch can be created and released to the software’s users before anyone’s data is compromised. When a malicious hacker finds the vulnerability first, users are notified and a security patch is released to prevent further damage. 


What happens when you don’t install the latest security patch? 

Cybercriminals are regularly scanning IP addresses for these vulnerabilities, ready to take advantage and launch an attack. This means that all users need to install the latest security patch as soon as possible. If a cybercriminal comes across a device that’s not yet protected by the latest update, they can potentially gain access to not only that one device, but any device on the network. According to a piece by Tripwire published in May, 2020, the top 10 most targeted security vulnerabilities have security patches that have been available for years.  


A hacker may then utilize the vulnerability to download malware onto your device or take over your computer and encrypt your files. Sometimes hackers will use an unpatched device to gain access to the network of a larger company with valuable data, referred to as a “toehold.” 


It’s also important to note that when a hacker gains access to your device, they now have access to sensitive information that can be used for identity theft to commit crimes in your name or your business’s name. They may also sell your information on the dark web


Benefits of patches beyond security 

Software and operating system updates not only offer improved security features, they also often include technology updates that make that software easier to use. This might mean faster load times, a cleaner user interface, and new online tools to improve your team’s collaboration and productivity. 


Make security patches part of your cybersecurity strategy 

If it doesn't already, your business’s cybersecurity strategy should prioritize a plan for ensuring that all team members download the latest security updates as soon as they become available. This is often the responsibility of a Managed Service Provider — they will regularly check all devices and ensure each one is up to date.  


Related reading: 

5 Ways a Data Breach Can Cause Long-Term Damage to Your Business

Why Your Business Needs a Technology Update

9 Security Tips for Working Remotely  


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Feature photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels

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