Updates not Headaches

Santafe.com - July 12, 2011

"These days it seems we’re all in a hurry or that we have no time for basic maintenance of ourselves much less our computers."

Have you been keeping up with your updates? These days it seems we’re all in a hurry or that we have no time for basic maintenance of ourselves much less our computers. I have done work for people where I have had to clean viruses from their computer and the first thing I check is how long it has been since they have had an update. They usually have months if not years of neglected updates waiting to be downloaded.

Now I don’t want to get into a war between Apple vs Windows, but Microsoft is the big dog on the block and as such they make a big target. It’s not just viruses but hackers also target these weaknesses and if you leave your computer on all the time then hackers are constantly scanning for you. Most medium to large size businesses probably have a separate firewall protecting them and if you have a personal geek helping you out you probably have a software firewall set up to protect your computer.

The problem with software firewalls and Windows built in software firewall is that they are still vulnerable to holes in the operating system. Hackers use programs to scan for computers day and night on the internet and when they find a computer that has left a hole open, they get there lists together and start working on the computers they find with a specific hole. They then use that hole to cause an error in your system and go through it to take over your system. The best defense for that is to keep up with your Windows updates.

People who have turned off their automatic updates or who just ignore them because they are too busy have holes that these guys can drive a truck through. If you click on the start button, then click on the control panel shortcut, it will bring up a series of system controls. In XP, which is becoming rarer, it is still called Automatic Updates. In Vista and Windows 7 is called Windows Update. You should make sure that at least ‘Notify Me of Updates’ box is checked. Then every once in a while (usually on Update Tuesday) you will get a pop-up notification asking you to okay the download and installation or if you set it on automatic just tell you that it is installing.

If you paid someone to set up your computer they probably activated that feature when asked. Some people who bought it and rushed it home to set up themselves and rushed through the setup questions so they could play with their new toy had a fifty-fifty chance of not activating that feature. You would be surprised how many people I have worked for who landed tails instead of heads. If you own a Mac don’t think this doesn’t apply to you either. Macs can be hacked and even now they are developing hacks for the iPhone and Ipad operating systems. So keep up with your updates. They can make your machine work better, and yes sometimes worse, but they will definitely help keep hackers and viruses from turning your system into a zombie that will search out and eat the brains of other computers.