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Why are software updates and patches a key form of cyber defence?

If your business runs as a result of being connected to the internet, you must keep computers, devices, applications and software patched and up to date, and where you can, add the use of two-step authentication with strong passwords.

The 2023 Cyber Security Breaches Survey from the UK Government revealed that there has been a steady decline over the last 3 years in key areas of cyber hygiene, patching and software updates being one of them. Frighteningly, only 31% of businesses have a policy that means all software security updates should be applied within 14 days.

What are patches?

A patch is an update to software, including operating systems such as Android and iOS, that are designed to address security vulnerabilities and bugs that have been discovered. The patches could also add new features, fix performance issues or improve software stability.

So, why are patches and updates important?

Patches and updates are created to address new vulnerabilities and exploits in software and programmes, they should be applied as quickly as possible to prevent attackers from exploiting them. By installing software updates and patches, you will be ensuring that your software is equipped with the latest security features which will help to reduce any vulnerabilities being exploited.

If hackers and online criminals do find a vulnerability, they will look to take advantage of this whether through stealing information, encrypting data, accessing accounts or deploying malware. These attacks can lead to financial losses, reputational damage, and loss of business continuity.

Follow these simple steps for updating software and installing patch updates:

  • Consider replacing devices that are no longer supported by the manufacturer with newer models. You can look online to check the support expiration date for your current device.

  • Update all apps and your device’s operating software whenever prompted

  • Set all software (including anti-virus) and devices to update automatically

  • Turn on your anti-virus (AV) product and check it’s up to date. It detects and removes any viruses or other malware (malicious software) from your device. Don’t switch it off!

  • Make sure the AV is set to automatically scan all new files such as those downloaded from the internet or stored on a USB stick, external hard drive, SD card or any other form of removable media

  • AV products aren’t necessary for smartphones or tablets, as long as apps are installed from official store.

Take further steps to protect your business from cybercrime

The first step to cyber resilience is knowledge, our easy to digest and downloadable information pack is the perfect place to start when looking to improve your cyber security. It’s completely free to access and will provide you with simple to follow tips, tricks and guidance to take your first steps in securing your organisation.

We provide a range of affordable cyber resilience services with the very current knowledge and technical expertise from the UK's top university cyber talent. Our services help SMEs and therefore supply chain prepare and improve cyber resilience. From staff training to reviewing your company’s network and systems, our services will help boost your cyber security strategy.

If you have any further questions or would like to know how we can help your business, please get in touch.


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