The Importance of Software Updates

Software updates are more than just the annoying pop-ups that appear seemingly out of nowhere, they are key in preventing cybersecurity threats

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min read

We are all guilty of pressing the Remind Me Later button when we get hit with a software update. Odds are those notifications appear just as we're doing something important, and updating our software now means stopping our work. However, those notifications aren't just there to annoy us. Keeping your device's software updated is important because it can fix security and privacy issues. Especially with the myriad of privacy concerns surrounding smart home devices, keeping your software up to date is crucial. With outdated software, you are putting your device prone to vulnerabilities like data breaches and ransomware attacks.

In a general sense, a vulnerability is a defect in a device's operating system or software. These defects occur due to an error in the software's code, poor design, or flaws in the system itself. As mentioned, hackers can exploit these vulnerabilities to steal or manipulate personal data, launch ransomware attacks, install other types of malware or a backdoor to more exploits in the future. In worse cases, hackers can also gain control over your device and manipulate the original software to work differently than intended. A case in point is how Mandiant, a cybersecurity agency, reported how it found a vulnerability in the software of 83 million baby monitors across Taiwan. This vulnerability enabled hackers to access the visual and audio footage of the cameras and upload them to the web.

As a consumer, it is hard to realise when your device is being attacked, primarily if it uses software or hardware belonging to other companies. Therefore, though software updates may feel inconvenient, it acts as a safety measure to ensure your device and family's security.

Some General Tips on Software update:

  1. Practice pressing the update now button whenever possible. Updating currently will always be the safer option than updating later. You never know when hackers decide to attack.
  2. Some devices may not remind you automatically. Make it part of your routine to manually check for updates every few weeks to see if you have any pending software updates. Similarly, try and update them as soon as you can.
  3. If your device was unused for a while or bought secondhand, check that the software is on the latest version. Typically, you should identify which version the software is on either from the device or the manufacturer's website.
  4. Pay attention to the software updates for toys or devices specifically made for children. Additionally, children might not understand what updates are or why they can't use their toys when its currently being updated. This is an excellent opportunity for you to talk with them about the importance of software updates and good practices to ensure their safety when using these devices.
More to Explore:

Here's further advice and resources to support parents and children on this issue:

Keeping devices and software up to date

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Stop Putting off your Device Updates

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The Key to Firmware Security in Connected IoT Devices

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