The Importance of Updates — And What Happens If I Skip Them
You’re chugging along, getting work done, feeling good about your output and taking great satisfaction in your productivity for the day — and then that pesky alert pops up on your screen telling you that there’s a software update available. You ignore it, figuring you’ll do it later.
Sound familiar? But if you’re like most people, later never ends up being a convenient time either. You keep putting it off and putting it off because there’s always something important you don’t want to interrupt.
And you start to wonder whether software updates are really all that important. Is it all right to skip software updates altogether? What’s the worst that can happen if you skip a software update?
The harsh reality is that updates aren’t a discretionary matter. They’re important and you need to do them. And unfortunately, there can be some pretty bad consequences if you neglect to update.
Want the lowdown? Here it goes:
To delay is okay.
First, we should probably establish that there’s nothing wrong with delaying an update. If you’re busy and can’t be interrupted, or if you simply overlook the update by accident, it’s not the end of the world. The option to delay the installation is a useful one because you’re able to update the software at a time that’s convenient for you.
Remember, it’s for your own good.
Software updates might seem inconvenient, but their whole point is to make your computer experience a lot better. The company that makes the software, such as Windows and its Office Suite, or any of the countless apps on your smartphone, is constantly working to make your user experience safer, more efficient, and all-around better.
Your biggest concern is a security risk.
The primary reason you don’t want to be delaying a software update? Your security is compromised. Think of old software like a piece of old material, such as a brick wall or a thick piece of fabric. As time goes on, the software coding starts to get holes in it. And as those holes get bigger and more obvious, they become easy for hackers and cyber criminals to exploit.
Compromised software means a compromised business.
If you’re running a business, then it’s very likely you have private information about your clients or your employees on file. It’s only a fraction of the important data your device contains — there also might be plans for future products, or tax records, or any number of important documents. When hackers and cyber criminals are able to infiltrate your software, there’s the potential for them to steal important information or even wipe out entire files and documents. This problem can be avoided if you simply let an update install so you can start working with a more secure version of the software.
There’s also ransomware you have to worry about.
Above and beyond wiping out your important data, a hacker or cyber criminal can also hold all of that hostage and demand payment for it. One of the more famous examples of this happening is the WannaCry attack of May 2017, when 230,000 computers around the world were attacked by an exploit vector that escaped the U.S. National Security Agency. Major businesses and agencies like FedEx, Honda, and even the British National Health Service were struck and told they had a week to pay $300 in Bitcoin cryptocurrency or else their encrypted files would be deleted. Not to blame the victim here, but crises like these can be avoided if you are diligent about updating your software and ensuring it isn’t left vulnerable.
You can pass that malware on to other computers.
It’s not just your own computer or devices that are at risk. If malware attacks your computer via holes in coding of outdated software, you could then accidentally pass that malware to colleagues or clients via emails or flash drives.
You miss out on the best version of the app.
Remember earlier how we talked about how updated software or updated apps are improved versions of that same software and those same apps you love? That’s important. If your business is going to be as efficient and productive as possible (and in turn, as successful as possible) then you want to make sure you’re using the latest version of the software. If you don’t update, you’re pretty much dooming yourself to be left behind.
But…be careful about breaking anything with an update.
This isn’t such a concern for one person using one computer, but when you’re running an IT department, you don’t want to send out an update that breaks your entire base. Be sure to test a subset of your base first to make sure everything is good to go.