Back in November of 2012, I wrote a short piece explaining why it was important to keep your apps and software updated. Now, in 2014, more users than ever have computers and mobile devices. According to a mobile technology study performed by the Pew Internet Project, more than 55% of adults in the United States own a smartphone, and 42% of adults own a tablet computer. (Source) As show in this infographic, a government census shows that in 2012, 78.9% of all households had a computer, and 94.8% of those households used the computer to connect to the Internet.
What’s the common theme? Many people have smart devices and computers, and all of those computers and smart devices have operating systems of some sort. (Most have apps loaded on them as well.) These operating systems and apps will send reminders that they need updating. Instead of turning your cheek, it’s wiser to obey the prodding and immediately update. Why? Most of the updates that are released are in response to security issues and other flaws in the programs. By updating, you’ll not only get access to the newest versions, you’ll also be strengthening your devices (and thus your) security.
For example, Apple recently released two new updates: one for devices running iOS7 (i.e., phones, iPods and tablets) and one for devices running OSX Mavericks (i.e., computers). Why were these updates released, and why are they so important? The update for Mavericks fixed a number of known issues with the Mavericks operating system, including FaceTime, Safari and Contacts problems. Along with those acknowledged issues, the update also packages in fixes for security bugs. These bugs were made more public by people using devices with iOS7. It recently came to light that a flaw in the operating system could allow a hacker the ability to intercept email messages to or from your device. Furthermore, it opened a hole in the system that could allow someone to deliver data to your device and take control of your system.
For those of you who think you’re “safer” with a device running Microsoft Windows, you may want to look at the Security Bulletins issued by Microsoft, which cover monthly updates for their software and Windows. No matter what device you’re using, please take the time to update your apps and software. I try to find “down time” – either when I leave the house to exercise or right before I go to bed – to update my devices. (And yes, today, between my parents and me, I updated 9 devices, so I understand the time and effort it can take!) It may seem like a nuisance, but in the end, it’s worth it.