Do you often neglect to update your PC or mobile device’s operating system (OS) software because you’re busy or have no time? It’s okay, you’re in the majority if you do.
But you know who does have time? Hackers. Researching and exploiting vulnerabilities that security patches are supposed to protect is their full-time job. Hackers rely on users’ tendencies to click “Remind me Later” whenever they receive notifications asking them to download and install the latest security patch.
Small- and medium-sized business (SMB) users are especially at risk when they neglect to update their systems, because unlike enterprises and multinational corporations, SMBs don’t have sizable IT departments equipped to handle mundane and large-scale support simultaneously.
Security patches are files that OS companies (like Microsoft and Apple) and application developers release to protect their products against recently discovered flaws. Hackers exploit these and other undiscovered flaws by installing malware, stealing your data, or corrupting your networks.
Software update notifications — whether on PCs, Macs, or mobile devices — are ‘pesky’ for a reason. They’re urgent reminders from software companies that threats have been detected and putting off installing them for later is dangerous.
One of the ways small businesses cut IT costs is by using outdated applications and operating systems. A company that still uses Windows XP might not realize it doesn’t receive patches anymore, or assume that its data is too insignificant to make it a target.
This mindset is a recipe for a disaster because older OSs — even the ones that are still supported — tend to have more loopholes than more recent software. But any program that is no longer supported by its creator is almost impossible to protect.
Take the WannaCry ransomware attacks for example. The massive breach affected organizations worldwide and spread like wildfire because of unpatched systems, which made it easy for hackers to infect a large number of computers. In fact, 200,000 of WannaCry’s victims were running on Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, which no longer receive security updates from Microsoft.
Delaying your next OS software upgrade — as long as it’s fully supported by the software company — puts you in the crosshairs of emerging threats and creates incompatibilities with newer, more advanced business applications.
When handled poorly, security patches cause operational disruptions, which is why some users hesitate to install them as soon as possible. Moreover, some small businesses simply do not have the resources to implement effective security management practices. And although patches cause downtime, it’s nothing compared with the consequences of ransomware, viruses, and other forms of malware.
You can improve your company’s patch management practices by scheduling time to regularly check for updates across all your applications and devices. One out-of-date application on a seemingly unimportant computer could be enough for hackers to get their foot in the door.
In addition, make sure your employees understand the importance of security patching and how vulnerabilities affect individual users and ultimately the entire office network. But if your small organization is unable to handle the rigorous aspects of patching, enlist the help of a reliable IT support provider.
A managed services provider (MSP) like Dyrand can take care of security patch management for you. As your IT providers, we’ll handle all aspects of your IT’s security, including firewall management, backup and disaster recovery, and mobile device management.
Bear in mind that regular security patching is just one part of what should be a comprehensive security strategy that should include other measures such as installing intrusion prevention systems, antivirus software, providing ongoing cybersecurity training, and more.
If securing your computers and devices seems overwhelming for your Vancouver-area small business, Dyrand can offer comprehensive IT support that ensures your OS and various apps are up to date and regularly patched. Get in touch with our certified cybersecurity experts today.