Why Software Updates Matter for Cybersecurity | EasyDMARC

Why Software Updates Matter for Cybersecurity

9 Min Read
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If your business relies on specialized software, you may wonder why software updates are so important. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to illustrate the point better. You’ve probably heard about Adobe Photoshop. It’s the leading photo editor program in the world, released almost 30 years ago, back in 1990. 

If you look at the base code for the original version of Photoshop, you’ll realize how different it is from the current version.

Now consider this. The original release of Photoshop was followed by three more re-releases with updated functions in the following three years. That meant your license was suddenly obsolete when a new one came up. 

We’re talking about the old days when there were no online updates. You had to buy Adobe Photoshop (like any other application) on a CD-ROM and install the software on your PC.

Could you still work with the old version? Sure, why not. However, the files weren’t backward compatible. In other words, files created with newer versions of the software didn’t run with older versions.

While newer versions added a ton of new features and developed the program in ways unimaginable for the users at first, it was still quite expensive (around $895), and you had to buy the new version every time. 

Imagine spending that much money each time Adobe launched a new software version. That’s besides the fact that an updated CD-ROM often took years to hit the shelves. So if there were bugs, interface issues, or other errors, you had no choice but to wait for the company to release a new version.

Things are different these days. Like most software providers, Adobe Photoshop has switched to a subscription model. You pay a monthly fee, and software updates are done online and available immediately. 

We’ve come a long way from CD-ROM software but the ease and prevalence of the internet leaves many believing that software updates aren’t a big deal. The truth is, they are. 

Read on to discover why software updates are so important in this digital day and age.

What Are Software Updates and What Do They Do?

Understanding software updates gives you some insight into their importance. A software update is a data package designed for a specific piece of software to improve its functionality. The same developer of said software usually creates it. The primary role of software updates is to fix existing issues within the program or to upgrade functions already in place. 

After that short trip down the history of Adobe Photoshop, you might still wonder why software updates are so important. Let’s lay it out in simple terms: Software updates keep your devices and the software running smoothly. They also increase your security, making your devices less prone to cyberattacks.

In the following lines, we’ll discuss the most popular software updates you’re likely to encounter. We’ll also explain why these updates are so important to keep your systems running smoothly.  

Roll Out Security Patches

As you can imagine, security is the main reason behind the importance of software updates. The programmers behind every piece of retail software are always looking to patch any vulnerabilities they find in their base code. They’re not the only ones, though. Hackers also look for zero-day vulnerabilities to exploit for financial benefit. 

Fix Bugs and Improve Performance

If you wonder why software updates are so important for modern software and apps, fixing bugs and improving performance are solid reasons. Many programs and apps are released within a window of opportunity. 

Large companies schedule these launches and have to stick to them to avoid financial losses.  Although many avoid cutting corners, subsequent issues are common. Software updates allow developers to fix bugs, enhance existing features, and improve performance. 

Introduce New Software Features

The importance of software updates is reflected in the features of a program. A new update can consist of a new function for the software. It can also remove something that holds back functionality. The ever-changing nature of technology means some things need to evolve.

Just take a look at Instagram. This app, back in 2012, was merely a photo-sharing social network. These days the app is a juggernaut that allows you to share short-form videos, temporal statuses, your location, live AMA sessions, and much more.

Ensure Compatibility

Do you know what used to suck in the old days? Opening a program to get the message saying “file not compatible with the current version.” It happened with everything, from Office tools to Adobe products. 

These days, software manufacturers launch updates to ensure all their products are compatible with the latest technology. If your software fails to get proper updates, it may stop working on your installed device.  

Prevents Data Breaches and Malware

If you’re still wondering why software updates are so important, the driving reason is safety. A security update is a proactive measure to increase safety when using a program or app. 

That quick patch that takes only a few moments to install may be the only thing saving your information from being exposed to a data breach. It also may be the only way to block new types of malware that could be carried over to your device.

Identify the Genuineness of the Update

Refrain from letting the importance of software updates take you down a dark path. It’s easy for bad actors online to fake update messages and gain access to your accounts, information, or devices. 

How did you get notified about a new software version? You can see several warning signs that can alert you to what’s happening. Pay attention to some of these scenarios:

System Alerts

New devices are more complex to trick than older ones that lack proper defenses if their OS is obsolete. You can set up system alerts on all your devices so they let you know when your apps or software need a fresh update. It’s usually the best way to get legitimate and timeous notifications about required updates.

Google Play does this frequently, even listing the apps that need updates. Windows sends alerts by asking you to confirm the updates and restarting your device. iOS also handles the process automatically.

You still need to be careful with these “system alerts” that constantly indicate you’re facing an issue with your device. You might be facing a malicious ad instead. This is a pretty common occurrence, though low-end smartphones are easier targets. 

Most Xiaomi phones, for example, come with preloaded apps that constantly send malicious ads posing as alert notifications. The texts usually highlight a non-existing issue to make you tap on it and trigger a download.  

Website Pop-Ups

The pop-up was a prevalent method to deliver malware when the internet was in its infancy. These days, many browsers have solid built-in defenses against them, yet pop-ups refuse to go away. They’re still an effective method used by hackers to deliver malicious payloads to unknowledgeable users. 

They’re often disguised as urgent notifications to perform “updates” or take other actions that lead to unauthorized access or malware infection.

Email Notifications

Be wary of these messages. Bad actors in phishing attacks often use them. You can get a legitimate-looking albeit fake email asking you to update some form of software. Most apps and platforms automatically update your devices when you set them up to perform this task. 

If the email includes a link, don’t interact with it until you can check it using a security tool like our phishing URL checker.  A fake update is an easy way to trick people into downloading malware, compromising their data and affecting operability.

Why Are Software Updates So Important?

The importance of software updates can’t be understated. . These improvements fix bugs, patch vulnerabilities, and improve security. If you run a business, these are some of the most notable advantages:  

Cut Financial Costs from Cyberattacks

The importance of software updates goes beyond the standard security requirements any business should follow. Every software update guarantees you’ll save money in the future. You can avoid cyberattacks and protect sensitive data with suitable security patches. 

Hackers always look for weak defenses so they can work their way inside any system and harvest as much data as they want. You can lose all your customers’ information and data related to vendors and business partners, which can make you liable in the law’s eyes.  

Prevent Reputational Damage

Nobody wants to do business with a company that doesn’t know how to safeguard customer data. Companies like Sony, Facebook, Gawker, and others have suffered a considerable loss of stream revenue after experiencing massive data breaches

Some companies take years to find themselves in the good graces of their customers again. Many are forced to issue public apologies and offer some form of compensation. Others go under to be never heard of again.

Regulations are in place to ensure your systems are up and running according to specific standards. In the digital era, everything leaves a track, hence the importance of software updates

Your bases are covered when your systems are correctly updated, even after a data breach. A team of auditors can easily prove whether all your systems were updated when you were hit. This only partially removes liability but lessens the public impact you might experience.

Final Thoughts

As you finally reach the end of the road, we are sure you understand why software updates are so crucial by now. We live in a world that’s online 24/7. It makes sense to keep all software in your systems updated. Doing so means you’ll comply with security regulations, help keep your business data safe, and keep hackers at bay.

Various authors from EasyDMARC teams have contributed to our blog during company's lifetime. This author brings everyone together.


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