Every time an alert pops up on your computer, informing you of a newly released patch, please take action. Ignoring these updates leaves your computer vulnerable and dramatically increases your risk of falling victim to cyber crime. These updates contain patches for the latest known system vulnerabilities and by installing them at once, you can be guaranteed the highest level of protection possible at any given time. Ignore them, and your systems are dramatically weaker and far more likely to be targeted by hackers.
New system vulnerabilities are inevitably discovered when hackers, wearing both white and black hats, test software and attempt to break through. As soon as a weakness is identified, the operating systems get to work on writing a patch which is released as soon as possible, along with one of those pop-up alerts. The diligent few among us, will duly download and install these patches and continue on with our work, knowing we are safe and protected. However, the majority of users delay the task of patching, leaving themselves exposed and at risk to cyber crime.
With so many devices to choose from, hackers rarely waste their time trying to access up-to-date systems. It is far quicker and easier for them to instead penetrate a computer through a known vulnerability on an unpatched system. You are therefore automatically more likely to fall victim to cyber crime if you don’t patch immediately. In fact, you become a far more inviting target because your system vulnerabilities are on display for all to see. And yet all it takes to close this hole on your IT security is the simple installation of a patch.
Security Magazine recently published an article where they listed the ten most commonly exploited system vulnerabilities. All of these are known flaws and have patches available. Several of them are many years old. Those devices still running on outdated software are effectively sitting ducks. According to Security Magazine, between 20 and 30% of all cyber crime attacks could be prevented by installing patches which have been available for over three years. What were once zero-day vulnerabilities are now common knowledge for hackers who look for devices still running on outdated software.
In the first four and a half months of 2017, the top ten vulnerabilities which Security Magazine identify accounted for 88% of all cyber crime activity. All of them have patches. Therefore 88% of hackers could have been stopped simply by installing these patches. It is a simple act and, admittedly, can be a hassle if your system needs to be restarted, but it is worth it. What is ten minutes out of your day compared to the inevitable financial and reputational disaster which follows when any business suffers a security breach? Remember, every computer and device connected to your company’s network needs to be updated regularly. One vulnerable system can be turned into a botnet and used to manipulate others. CEOs should regularly remind staff to check their systems are up to date in order to protect the company, employees and consumers from falling victim to a cyber attack.