Tips and best practices for protecting computers, smartphones and other electronic devices from security threats are in no short supply. But if there is only one action you take now to protect your devices, let it be this:
Make sure each device and all the applications installed on it are up-to-date.
Consider the WannaCry ransomware attack that affected computers all around the world in May 2017. This attack manifested using a built-in vulnerability in Windows operating systems that had been patched months before the actual attack occurred. Up-to-date computers were immune, while those without the patch were left vulnerable. As a result, thousands fell victim – their important files encrypted, with no way to recover them.
Most devices are set to automatically install operating system updates and security patches. Do not turn this system off, unless you have other processes for protection in place.
Similarly, most applications installed on computers, smartphones and other devices automatically check for updates. You can confirm this on your smartphone by opening your device settings, and then open your app store and select update.
Depending on the device settings and the application, you may need confirm each update to install it. For other applications, you may need to actively check for and install updates, which typically can be done via the Help or About menus within the application. This should be done on a weekly or monthly basis at a minimum.
There are many steps you can take to secure your devices, but one of the simplest and most effective ways to shore things up is to keep each device and the applications installed on it up-to-date.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month.