Keeping your operating system and applications up to date is one of the best ways to protect yourself from being hacked.
Hackers, along with malicious programs or viruses, find weaknesses in software (called vulnerabilities) that they exploit to access your computer, smartphone or tablet. Installing updates fixes these vulnerabilities and helps keep you secure.
Why is it important to install updates as soon as possible? To limit the amount of time hackers have to find and use these weaknesses. The longer a vulnerability is left unpatched, the more hackers will know about the weakness and how to use it.
Use this guidance to learn how to update your software.
Remember: Hackers use weaknesses in software to access your computer, smartphone, tablet and other devices (Internet-of-Things). Protect yourself by keeping your operating system and applications updated automatically.
Make installing updates a top priority
Many software providers release patches and updates for their products to correct security concerns and improve functionality.
Most modern software and applications update automatically, but make sure you agree to install updates when prompted. The common software to keep updated are:
- operating systems, for example Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android
- antivirus and security software
- browsers, for example Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome
- web plugins, for example Adobe Flash, Reader, Skype, Apple Quicktime, iTunes, Java, ActiveX
- other types of applications, for example Microsoft Office.
When you purchase a new device, check for updates straight away as part of initial set up, ensuring you enable automatic updates.
Updates for Windows
Microsoft provides regular automatic updates for Windows 7, 8.1 and 10. Older versions of Windows are unsupported, and if you’re using an older version, consider upgrading. (Note that Windows 8 is no longer supported).
Automatic updates for Windows (PC and Mobile)
Windows Update is free and provides the latest security and other important updates from Microsoft automatically (including updates for Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and Edge). Automatic updates are turned on by default in Windows 10, and you can switch automatic updates on for Windows 7 and 8.1. Refer to Windows Update for information on how to do this.
Updates for Apple
Apple generally provides updates for the latest and immediately previous versions of their operating system, but not for older versions.
For detailed information visit the Apple website:
Updates for Android
Notifications are sent when updates for Android are available. Please note that Android update notifications can sometimes be delayed.
For detailed information on Android updates visit:
Updates for anti-virus software
Anti-virus software requires regular signature updates to remain effective. Anti-virus updates generally occur daily and most applications will default to installing automatically.
For more information on your anti-virus signature update settings, contact your vendor. Learn more about protecting yourself using anti-virus software here.
Updates for plugins and other software
It’s very important that you regularly download and install updates for web plugins and other vulnerable software too – such as Adobe products and Java. Vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash, for example, are some of the most popularly-targeted by hackers for exploitation. Automatic updates are available for these products, but ideally uninstall Adobe Flash to limit this risk.
For detailed information on updates for plugins and other software visit your vendor’s website, or select from some of the popular plugin vendors below: