Computer Dynamics

Windows Updates… Are They Important?

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by Katherine Hultquist, Co-Owner of Computer Dynamics

It is Monday morning and Mary is in a hurry to get her week started. She turns on her computer and sees that Windows is doing an update and it says on the screen “this may take a while”…Mary shakes her head in frustration and says “I don’t have a while – I need to use my computer now!”
Mary’s reaction to Windows updates is quite common. Most people do not feel like they have the time to worry about updates and would rather be working, catching up on their social media, or playing games.

So, are updates a waste of time or are they an important part of your computer’s health, well-being, and security? Let’s explore the answer together. We will start out by defining what updates are…

Yes, electronic devices have an expiration date on their support. What does that mean for you? It means that the item you purchased does not stay up to date indefinitely and will eventually need to be replaced with a newer model. This article will address both PCs and Macs and their expiration dates, and also what that means for you.

Microsoft uses the following standard terminology to describe software updates:
Critical update
Definition: A widely released fix for a specific problem that addresses a critical, non-security-related bug.
Definition update
Definition: A widely released and frequent software update that contains additions to a product’s definition database. Definition databases are often used to detect objects that have specific attributes, such as malicious code, phishing websites, or junk mail.
Driver
Definition: Software that controls the input and output of a device.
Feature pack
Definition: New product functionality that is first distributed outside the context of a product release and that is typically included in the next full product release.
Security update
Definition: A widely released fix for a product-specific, security-related vulnerability. Security vulnerabilities are rated by their severity. The severity rating is indicated in the Microsoft security bulletin as critical, important, moderate, or low.

From the definitions we just reviewed, it looks like Windows updates do help keep a computer more secure. However, many people do not believe they have anything to worry about because they do so little with their computer. As a result, many people use older operating system that are no longer supported – like Windows 7 and Windows 8 (Windows 8.1 is still supported).

Microsoft’s website states the following about expired operating system usage:
“When your PC is running a version of Windows that has reached end of support, it is important you take action because without ongoing security fixes, your PC will become vulnerable to viruses and malware. If you have Windows 8 (not updated to Windows 8.1), Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) or Windows 7 (not updated with SP1), one of the following full-screen notifications might appear on your computer (depending on the system that you’re using).”

According to the information we just reviewed from Microsoft if you are not receiving security updates, your computer becomes vulnerable to Viruses and Malware such as Trojans. But what does that mean for you? What will happen to your computer if it becomes infected with Viruses or Trojans?

According to the Norton Antivirus website,

Once a virus has successfully attached to a program, file, or document, the virus will lie dormant until circumstances cause the computer or device to execute its code. In order for a virus to infect your computer, you have to run the infected program, which in turn causes the virus code to be executed.

This means that a virus can remain dormant on your computer, without showing major signs or symptoms. However, once the virus infects your computer, the virus can infect other computers on the same network. Stealing passwords or data, logging keystrokes, corrupting files, spam-ming your email contacts, and even taking over your machine are just some of the devastating and irritating things a virus can do.

While some viruses can be playful in intent and effect, others can have profound and damaging effects. This includes erasing data or causing permanent damage to your hard disk. Worse yet, some viruses are designed with financial gains in mind.

According to the Kaspersky Antivirus website, A Trojan horse or Trojan is a type of malware that is often disguised as legitimate software. Trojans can be employed by cyber-thieves and hackers trying to gain access to users’ systems. Users are typically tricked by some form of social engineering into loading and executing Trojans on their systems. Once activated, Trojans can enable cyber-criminals to spy on you, steal your sensitive data, and gain back-door access to your system.

These actions can include:
• Deleting data
• Blocking data
• Modifying data
• Copying data
• Disrupting the performance of computers or computer networks

Are Updates Important?
From all the evidence provided, it seems clear that updates are important. Without updates, your computer can get infected and that can cause data loss, stolen information, and malfunctions in your operating system. Even if you feel you do little with the computer and don’t have a lot to lose – letting others steal your personal information is always dangerous and can lead to identity theft. Keeping your computer up to date will help to keep these malicious infections at bay.

How to Keep your Computer Up to Date
Windows 10 should automatically update – however – there are large groups of updates that change the version of the operating system that sometimes will not download by themselves. To check to see if you have the latest version of Windows 10 go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 and click on the Update Now button – this will download a program that you will need to install and run that will either update you or let you know you are on the latest version of Windows.

Microsoft stops supporting older version of Windows 10 – so it is best to keep it up to date.
If you live in a location where you have slower internet speeds or have limited download it is best to bring your computer into Computer Dynamics where Mark and Katie can update your computer for you. If you have any questions about Windows updates or need to bring your computer in for service,
just call 320-654-9703.

References:
Norton Antivirus. https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-malware-what-is-a-computer-virus.html
Kaspersky Antivirus. https://usa.kaspersky.com/resource-center/threats/trojans
Microsoft. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/824684/description-of-the-standard-terminology-that-is-used-to-describe-micro
Microsoft. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/3163589/your-pc-is-running-an-outdated-version-of-windows-notification

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