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Did you know one of the best ways to keep your systems safe from cybersecurity threats is also one of the most simple? It’s true!

Keeping software up to date is truly one of the simplest things a business can do in order to be protected from the most popular threats out there. Just about anyone can figure out how to enable automatic updates for their workstation.

So why do we consistently run into new environments and after running our scans find numerous systems that haven’t been updated in a while?

Unicom’s top 6 reasons why systems aren’t updated on a regular basis:

  1. IT staff never enabled automatic updates on the workstations, and employees never thought they needed to check that.
  2. Account permissions weren’t set up to restrict employees’ ability to turn off automatic updates, and the employee accidentally or intentionally disabled it. It may not have been done in a harmful way, the employee may just have been frustrated with losing their work during an automatic update, and didn’t want that to happen again.
  3. Automatic updates were intentionally turned off by IT staff as it can cause conflicts with installed software. i.e. Microsoft pushes out an update that breaks a version of Fiserv (or one of the apps that complement Fiserv), and everyone got upset about it. As a result, IT made a policy of turning off automatic updates, but suffered from reasons 4 or 5 here…
  4. There was no process by which IT staff operated which required them to check and update workstations/servers/firewalls/etc on a regular basis.
  5. There WAS a process implemented, but the work was so great IT staff could not follow the process as they didn’t have automated systems to lessen the workload.
  6. Employees have access to company systems through their mobile devices, but the business does not have any mobile device management to determine if the mobile device is up to date.

What happens when a system is not up to date? Bad things of course!

One of the easiest ways for systems to be compromised is for a hacker to write code that attacks old versions of software. A developer can only keep so many versions up to date concerning cyber threats. They have to draw a line in the sand and say “we’re not going to support version 2017 any longer and all our customers will need to upgrade to a newer version.” So hackers go out and find vulnerabilities in the old versions, knowing that the developer will never release a patch that addresses the vulnerability (you have to be on version 2018 or later to get the patch!). Companies running unsupported and outdated software are a prime target for hackers. Once a system is compromised, the sky is the limit if the hack is sophisticated enough.

What can a business do to confirm their systems are always up to date?

  • Have written procedures and policies for ensuring systems are patched and on the latest version
  • Use automated software designed to keep systems updated as well as inform IT staff of any device which is out of compliance
  • Use group policies which keep automatic updates turned on, as well as prevent employees from disabling this feature (if at all possible)

As always, if you would like any assistance from Unicom in creating technology policies, testing your systems for compliance, or fully managed services where we take on the burden of these tasks, we invite you to get in touch.