You’re finishing a project on a tight deadline. The Windows update message pops up to apply software patches (also called updates) and restart your computer. “Not now,” you think, and hit “postpone”. Sound familiar?
The question is, do you ever get around to actually taking the time to apply those patches? Does your IT services firm apply them for you? If not, the recent WannaCry virus was looking for you. It searched for a vulnerability in unpatched systems to encrypt your data and hold it for ransom.
The kicker is that Microsoft released a patch for that very vulnerability in March for all its supported operating systems (sorry XP). If your computer is running Vista or newer and had all the current patches, you were protected from WannaCry.
(As an aside, Windows XP is a prime target because it has not been updated by Microsoft since 2014. As a result, its security holes are like swiss cheese. Microsoft made the highly unusual decision to make a new patch available for Windows XP because of the severity of WannaCry. If you’re still running Windows XP in your business, you are taking a substantial risk.)
Certainly, new ransomware pops up every day, and no single security tool is foolproof. But IT experts agree that installing patches is an essential practice. In fact, it’s first on the list, even before antivirus software, for protecting data and helping users stay safe online.
For businesses, patching can be a little complex, so it makes sense to have professional help. If your IT services firm applies patches automatically, all you need to do is follow their instructions (often just keeping your computer turned on during the specified time) and you’re all set. Generally, IT services firms deploy updates overnight or on a weekend so your work day isn’t interrupted.
Occasionally, applying patches may cause something else to break. That’s another reason to work with a skilled IT services firm who knows your business and can take steps to keep you up and running (or respond quickly if there’s a problem). It’s not a reason to skip applying patches altogether.
If you handle your company’s IT yourself, make sure you are applying the Microsoft patches as they’re released. Resist the temptation to put patches on a “to do” list for later.
Microsoft patches matter to keep your network and data safe, so don’t ignore that pop up or notification from your IT services firm.
If you’d like to know more about how CRU Solutions can help with your business IT, contact us.