Software updates: limit digital risks with one mouseclick

You are working on your computer when a pop-up asks you to install a software update. Not now, you think, and you close the notification window. Sound familiar? You might want to reconsider. Installing software updates promptly is important. They protect you against cybercrime.

What is updating?

Updating means keeping your IT systems up to date. More specifically, the software running on your systems. Think of your operating system, email, internet browser, or website. And it does not only concern the computer you use. You have to update your smartphone, tablet, router, server, and other smart devices. Especially if they are connected to the internet.

What types of updates are there?

There are two types of software updates. A functionality update makes your software more stable, better, or better-looking. For example, your favourite online shop updates its software to make it possible to pay with iDeal. Functionality updates are rarely urgent.

A security update or patch often is urgent. It repairs weak spots in your software. If you can, always install security patches right away. And always use the best and most secure version of your software.

Why are software updates important?

Updates keep your software working properly and safe. Software that has not been updated may have vulnerabilities. Hackers are aware of these and know exactly how they can easily break into computer systems. They then steal data or install ransomware. Regular updating prevents cybercriminals from exploiting the vulnerabilities in your software.

What should you update?

In short: update all devices that have software on them. Start with security patches. Do the functionality updates later. Start with systems that are always connected to the internet. Think of a router or your webshop's software. A digital attacker can easily force their way into these kinds of systems if the software is out of date. 

Then look at systems that regularly connect to the internet, such as your smartphone. Also update your web browser, for example Firefox, Google Chrome, or Edge. Finally, update systems that are never or almost never online.

How do you keep your software up to date?

Many systems stay up-to-date automatically. You will not even notice it. Sometimes you get a pop-up telling you that an update is available. You then choose when to perform the update.

This is how you keep your systems up to date:

  • Update immediately. Do not wait. Especially if it is a security update.
  • Do not keep using software that is no longer updated by the supplier. Replace out-of-date systems, or disconnect them from the internet.
  • Find out who is responsible for updating each system: are you, your IT partner, your software supplier, or your internet provider? If you hire an IT partner, make sure they check regularly that everything is up to date and that the settings are still correct.
  • Limit the number of IT systems. It makes it easier to keep track of and manage the systems, and it limits the number of possible vulnerabilities. Every new system poses a potential risk.
  • Do you work in the cloud? Your supplier then bears the responsibility for updates, and you always know you are working with the latest and most secure version of the software.
  • A practical tip: reboot your IT systems regularly. That way, you know all updates are processed correctly. This also goes for your tablet and smartphone. 

In the video below, 2 entrepreneurs talk about the importance of software updates. For English subtitles, select Subtitles (‘Ondertiteling’) in the Settings menu (wheel) and then choose English (‘Engels’).

Video: The importance of software updates