why are tech updates importantFor consumers, patches and updates are probably one of the most annoying aspects of technology. They force you to unexpectedly stop whatever you’re doing and wait until your software is made up to date. In rare cases they might even crash your device, adding to your frustration. Despite all this, however, software updates and hardware upgrades are, at worst, the necessary evils of owning technology. In a world filled with exploits and vulnerabilities, the need to keep devices up to date simply comes with the territory. In this post, we’re explaining why you should update your apps, software and devices, and detailing the ways you can properly do it.

How can I keep my technology current?

Most of the time, when people talk about keeping their devices up to date, they’re referring to patching or software updates. These are enhancements to the apps, programs, operating system and/or firmware of a device. Developers often make security and performance enhancements that sustain your device’s health throughout its life.

Another aspect of keeping your technology up to date is upgrading it. Unlike updates, upgrades are hardware enhancements. Upgrading a device could be as complex as making physical modifications to it or as simple as purchasing the next version of it. Upgrades aren’t usually necessary to remain secure unless a developer explicitly says so, which generally only happens when support for a device has ended and it’s no longer receiving updates of any kind. For example, this was the case for devices running Microsoft XP and Vista that lacked the hardware requirements to run newer versions of Windows. While some of these devices might still work, it’s unsafe to use them because the operating systems that they’re able to run have not received updates to protect them from new cybersecurity threats.

Why do I need to update/upgrade devices?

As discussed in last year’s International Internet Day post, many technologies have vulnerabilities and exploits unintentionally baked into them. Additionally, as hackers become increasingly clever, security measures that worked in the past fall out of favor. In this way, technology should always be seen as a work in progress, rather than as a finished product. Updates are needed because they ensure that your devices aren’t hijacked by hackers using undiscovered vulnerabilities or unanticipated exploits. Updating your devices also helps prevent them from infecting other devices through unpatched vulnerabilities and exploits, like a form of immunization. With regard to upgrading hardware, it’s more useful when a particular device or technology standard has outlived its lifecycle. For example, it’s likely that most consumers will have to upgrade (not update) to new routers in order to enjoy the upcoming WPA3 encryption standards, as the products currently on the market probably cannot support these new encryption standards.

What’s the best way to make sure I don’t miss updates?

Many devices and programs have the ability to automatically update. While these can be annoying, there’s a case that using them will make updates less inconvenient, as you won’t have to schedule a time to update everything yourself. However, some people hate the intrusive nature of automatic updates, and instead opt to manually update their apps, programs and software by going into their devices’ settings periodically (e.g., weekly or biweekly) and checking for updates that way. However you choose to update your technology is a personal choice, but make sure it isn’t something you’re putting off, as doing so can make your device vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves.

For more information about useful cybersecurity habits, keep reading our technology blog.