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What Every Computer User Must Know About Software Updates

Ever had your computer disabled by a nasty virus infection?  Many of your family, friends and neighbors have. Our phones continuously rang and a steady stream of clients poured in with infected computers the first week of this month.

All of the PCs had active virus protection software installed and working. So what happened?  What allowed these viruses to overtake these machines?

The answer was the same for every single person: they had not installed critical updates for several software programs on their computer.

Unlike the early days of computer viruses, pornographic or salacious websites are not the primary source of infections. It can be an innocuous website like Facebook, MSN or Yahoo. It can come from an email sent to you by a friend or relative.

Everyone who browses the Internet today knows better than to not have antivirus software installed on their computer.

But the problem is – we think the antivirus software is THE single source of protection against our computer becoming damaged by hackers and viruses. The fact is, it’s not.

You HAVE to keep your computer protected by installing critical updates for Windows and other programs on your computer.

You’ve most likely noticed (and ignored) when programs like Java, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, or iTunes alert you an update is ready to be installed. These updates contain important changes that improve the performance, stability and security of the program.

Installing these software updates is critical to keeping your computer protected against crippling virus infections and stolen personal information.

CITES Security, a division of the technology department of the University of Illinois, clearly describes the damage that can be done when you neglect to install updates for your various software programs:  “Just visiting a compromising website with a vulnerable version of Internet Explorer can allow attackers to access your computer and install software that steals your personal information. Being infected like this is known as a drive-by download. The software that infects computers through this vulnerability collects information, including user names and passwords for various sites, including bank and email accounts.”

Vulnerable AppsAs seen in the accompanying illustration, Kaspersky Lab, a computer security company, discovered that the unpatched software most targeted by web exploits (think, virus writers and hackers) are: Java – 56%, Adobe Reader – 25%, Windows and Internet Explorer – 4%, Adobe Flash – 3%, Android Root (for mobile devices) – 2%, and other – 11%.

So what do you need to do?  Install the updates when you’re prompted!

Most people, however, hesitate doing these updates because of the justified fear it could be a fake program waiting to infect your computer.

Two solutions exist to solve this problem: 1) let your computer professional take care of the updates for you. At Calibre, we have a service that automatically installs all the critical updates via the Internet on a regular basis. This completely eliminates your worry about clicking the wrong thing or messing up your computer. Or 2) Do it yourself by regularly visiting to manually download and install updates for common programs.

Bottom line, keeping your computer updated – in addition to using effective antivirus software – will greatly reduce the risk of your computer becoming infected with a virus.