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Computer Dynamics

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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

Keep You and Your Identity Safe

By Katherine Hultquist, Co-Owner of Computer Dynamics

When you make an investment in a computer tower or laptop it is an important one. The computer you purchase will be with you for years to come and therefore the investment is worth the price you pay. However, one thing you may not realize is the how long the computer you purchased will be supported and is safe to continue using on the internet.  

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. 

PC Computers & Laptops 

If I use a Microsoft Windows PC or Laptop, does my computer have an end of support expiration date?  

Computers that run a Microsoft Windows operating system, such as Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 do have an expiration date when Microsoft will eventually stop providing software support.  

How does Microsoft Protect Us from Threats and Vulnerabilities? 

Microsoft provides all supported operating systems with something called Windows Updates. These updates help protect your computer from vulnerabilities present in your Windows operating system. When an operating system is no longer supported by Microsoft, it no longer receives these vital updates, making it vulnerable to known threats.  

What does this End of Support Expiration Date Mean for You at Your Home or Business?  

This means that when the support runs out from Microsoft for your version of Windows, your computer will be left vulnerable to threats that it would otherwise be protected from, like hackers. So, continuing to use an unsupported software version on the internet, (such as Windows XP that stopped being supported in 2014) is very dangerous to you, the information stored on your computer, as well as the accounts you log into online.  

When these expiration dates occur, it is vital that you either upgrade your current computer to a supported version of the Windows operating system or purchase a new computer that has a supported version of the operating system. At Computer Dynamics, we specialize in these types of transitions and can assist you in a smooth transition to either an upgrade of your current computer or easing you into a new computer that will have a supported operating system.  

What are the Expiration Dates for the Windows Operating Systems? 

Windows Version  End of Support Expiration Date 
Windows XP   April 8, 2014 
Windows Vista  April 11, 2017 
Windows 7  January 14, 2020 
Windows 8.1  January 10, 2023 
Windows 10  October 14, 2025 

 

I use an Apple Computer, do those Operating Systems Stop Being Supported too? 

Yes, Apple computers have an end of support expiration date for their operating systems just like Microsoft does. And the same things are true of Apple computers as of Windows based computers, when the updates stop, they become more vulnerable to threats, such as hackers. 

How do I know if my Apple Computer Operating System is Out of Date and no Longer Being supported? 

Apple does not publish an end of life schedule, as Microsoft does. Apple supports the three most recent versions of its’ operating systems – which at this point include High Sierra, Sierra, and El Capitan. To check which version you currently have, you need to click on the Apple icon on the top left-hand corner of your screen and then click on ‘About this Mac’ and it will tell you what version you are currently on. 

What Can I do to upgrade my Mac Operating System? 

Computer Dynamics services Apple computers and can upgrade your Mac for a very reasonable price. Simply bring your mac into our shop, easily located on Division Street in Saint Cloud right behind Red Lobster and let us know you need an upgrade and we will be happy to assist you! 

Is it Really that Important to use a Supported Operating System? 

As this article has shown, using a supported operating system is vital to the health of your computer and the security of your information. When an operating system is no longer supported, you are at risk for hackers, more infections, as well as information breaches. If you use your computer to access email, bank accounts, credit cards, investments, online shopping, or even Facebook – it is necessary to have a supported operating system to keep your online experience safe from internet predators.  

If you are using an unsupported operating system or are uncertain as to what version you are on, contact Computer Dynamics at 320-654-9703; Mark and Katie will be happy to get you moved to a supported operating system so you and your information will be more secure!