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Why software updates are important

Posted 22 Jan 2020

n a previous blog post, we spoke about the fact that many users need to migrate to Office 365 following the official retirement of Microsoft Small Business Server 2011. Whilst the software itself will remain workable, it will no longer be supported by updates or patch fixes.

So, with this in mind, we thought we would take a look at why software updates are so important. 

What is a software update?

It may be tempting to view software updates as a hassle – after all, who hasn’t been deep into work when a notification pops up alerting you to a software update. But before you choose to click ‘cancel’ rather than ‘install’, it’s important to consider the implications of what it could mean for your business.

A software update is a way of continually protecting your computer or electronic device. As well as fixing minor bugs and glitches, updates are a way of ensuring that you have the latest capabilities to protect you against a myriad of security vulnerabilities. Software updates can also add new and improved features to your operating software which may improve your efficiency. They can even remove outdated features that are no longer of use.

When it comes to businesses, ensuring that your corporate IT systems are continually updated with the latest software updates is vital. Not only because you want to ensure that your staff are working efficiently and that your computer systems are fully functional, but because you may need to demonstrate to your customers that you are handling their personal data securely.

The difference between a software update and an upgrade

Many business owners (particularly those working in small-medium enterprises) may be put off from maintaining software updates because of a perceived cost to the business. However, this is where there may be a misunderstanding between an update and an upgrade.

A software update is issued by the manufacturer free of charge, providing small incremental updates as and when necessary. It generally requires just an internet connection and most updates can be scheduled to take place out of working hours, limiting any disruption to your day-to-day business.

An upgrade is something different – it’s a purchase of an entirely new version of your software in a bid to benefit from significant upgrades such as a new user interface or to replace a previously retired operation system.

We regularly work with businesses across the East of England to help them identify their specific business IT needs and help them to understand the differences between updates and upgrades.  

Not updating your software is putting you at risk

 Software updates are designed for specific purposes. Companies such as Lucid Systems can help small businesses prioritise and maintain software updates so that systems run effectively.

Software updates are released for a specific purpose. It means that the software company has identified a weakness and has taken proactive steps to fix it.  

If you don’t update your software, then you are not just putting your personal computer at risk. Out of date software could potentially jeopardise your network or even run the risk of your entire business becoming susceptible to malicious intent. Therefore, it’s imperative that your internal IT teams liaise with all of your staff members to ensure that they are adhering to stringent IT policies and ensuring that updates are managed.

In a worst-case scenario, failing to update your software could lead to you being targeted by hackers. If a data breach takes place, not only will you have to deal with the fallout, but you could find yourself liable to any fines/legal action as a result. You may even find that your insurance policies could be deemed null and void if the data breach was seen as preventable.

Make sure all electronic devices are updated regularly

When it comes to software updates, we’re not just talking about computers and laptops; it correlates to all electronic devices.

As more of us choose to enjoy the benefits of remote working, it stands to reason that businesses need to ensure that any mobile phones/tablets or even apps which have access to internal systems or emails are also maintained with regular updates. This is important for all devices, regardless of whether they are company-issued, or they are personally owned by staff members and occasionally used for work-related purposes.

It's important for all electronic devises to be regularly updated, whether it's a phone, computer or even an app.

Another factor to consider that mobile manufacturers tend to retire systems much quicker, so you may have staff using a phone or tablet for work purposes which is no longer supported by updates or security patches.

A good example of this is the iPhone 6 which is no longer supported by IOS13.

For a phone which was only released in 2015, we can understand why many users (both business and personal) may still be attracted to the lower price point. However, it should be noted that if unsupported phones are used for work purposes, then not only are they vulnerable but they will also not be in adherence with strict GDPR legislation.  

A good thing about mobile phones and tablets is that updating their software is quick and easy; many providers (Apple and Android) release regular updates which often take place automatically. However, as responsible business managers, you should ensure that your internal IT department or external IT support team are checking that these updates are switched on.

At Lucid Systems, we can work with businesses across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire to help identify and maintain any software updates. To find out more about how we can work with you, please get in touch.

by Amy Dawson