Safer Internet Day - Update software or count the cost

in News

If you consider how life-changing a security breach on the Internet can be, then updating software should become a priority for everyone, according to the Alannah & Madeline Foundation.

Human error is the root of most Internet security breaches and not updating software is a common malaise that affects most of these people.

Senior cyber safety expert at the Alannah & Madeline Foundation Jeremy Blackman says it isn’t just updating anti-virus software that is crucial, but all software programs.

“Being blackmailed with stolen photos or having your bank account emptied are experiences that no one would want,” he says. “But by not updating software regularly, people are opening themselves up to this and more.

“Allowing automatic updates of software on all of your devices (whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, laptop, PC or Mac) is the easiest and best course of action.”

The message from the Foundation, which runs its eSmart accreditation in schools and public libraries, comes on the eve of Safer Internet Day.

“The worldwide message from Safer Internet Day is to ‘Be the Change: Unite for a Better Internet’. In our view, regularly updating your software is an essential change that will make your life better,” says Mr Blackman.

“For children and young people, who are the Foundation’s major focus, having their smartphone photos stolen for malicious purposes is a terrible experience. Just the thought of that happening should be enough to compel them to enable automatic software updates on their devices.

“For parents, teachers and librarians, many of whom receive our eSmart training and accreditation, the prospect of having their bank accounts emptied should be an equally powerful message to update.”

Alannah & Madeline Foundation top five facts on updating software:

  • Creating a better, safer internet is a shared responsibility that belongs to all of us. We all have our role.
  • Software providers of search engines, operating systems and smartphone apps, as well as anti-virus software providers, do their best to respond to the latest viruses, malware and other risks. But if the updates aren’t taken up, the user becomes more and more vulnerable.
  • The cycle for software updates is getting faster and faster.
  • Smartphones are the new target for cyber criminals – the new battleground for data theft and extortion/ransomware, mainly through apps and SMS
  • An ‘exploit’ is a software tool designed to take advantage of a flaw or vulnerability in a computer system. Many hackers won’t utilise the latest exploits for new vulnerabilities in the latest software updates if an old one exists.

Jeremy Blackman’s five quick tips:

  1. Don’t delay updating software, even on your smartphone.
  2. Double-check the source of the update – never click on a hyperlink to get an update.
  3. Avoid downloading dodgy apps and software – check reviews and ratings first.
  4. Emails are the most common malware risk – never rush your responses to emails. Be suspicious, in a healthy way.
  5. Smartphones are the new cyber-risk battleground. Update operating system when prompted.

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