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Security Series Part II - Updates

Software Updates Fix Security Flaws
Computer software is never perfect. All computer operating systems have flaws that hackers can exploit to gain unauthorized access to your computer. Once your computer is "hacked" by a hacker, or a computer virus or worm, often the attacker can take complete control of the computer and all of the data on it, as well as any data on servers to which the computer is connected. The vendors of the operating system running on your computer frequently make updates available to fix known security flaws in the software. New flaws are detected all of the time, and new updates are frequently made available. Does keeping your computer up to date guarantee that it will never fall victim to a hacker? No, however, it dramatically improves the odds. New flaws are found, hackers begin trying to exploit those flaws, vendors provide updates to fix the flaws (hopefully before the hackers get too far), you install the updates to fix the flaws -- it's a continuous game of "cat and mouse." It is important to stay vigilant and try to keep one step ahead of the bad guys by keeping your system up to date.

Software Update Requirement
An out-of-date computer on the network is more likely to be targeted by hackers, worms, and viruses and used to access your private information, or information on other systems to which your computer has access, attack other computers on the network, or attack the network itself, than a computer that is up-to-date. A condition of connecting your computer to the network is that you must keep your computer up-to-date with all of the operating system vendor's security updates. Should your computer be found to be infected with a virus, or to be exhibiting virus-like or hacker-like activity, it will be disconnected from the network immediately upon detection to prevent damage to other computers, and to deny further access to your computer and its data by its attacker.

Myth -- "My Computer Isn't Susceptible to Hackers..."
Many people are under the impression that their Macintosh or Linux or BSD computers are not vulnerable to attack. This simply isn't true. With Macintosh OS X, Apple completely rewrote the system to run on a variant of Unix called "Darwin". While this provides a stable, high quality platform for the operating system, it is just as likely to have the same security flaws found in numerous other variants of Unix. The same goes for Linux, and BSD, and any other Unix or Unix-like variant. While it is true that the much smaller installed base of systems running this software makes them less attractive to hackers and virus writers, make no mistake, it is just as important to keep these systems up-to-date.

Keeping a Windows Computer Up-to-Date

Windows 8
Open Windows Update by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping or clicking Settings, tapping or clicking Change PC settings, and then tapping or clicking Update and recovery. Tap or click Check Now, and then wait while Windows looks for the latest updates for your PC.
If updates are found, tap or click Install Updates.

Windows 7/Vista
Click the Start button (lower left corner), click All Programs, and then click Windows Update. Click Check Now and then wait while Windows looks for the latest updates for your PC. If updates are found, tap or click Install Updates.

Windows XP/2000
On WindowsXP/2000 computers, you can point your web browser to to download and install "critical" updates.

Keeping Macintosh OS X Up-to-Date
On Macintosh OS X computers, click the Apple menu and choose "Software Update..." Newer computers will open the AppStore. Wait for it to find the updates and then click Update to download and install.

Where to get help
If you need help updating your computer's operating system, contact the Computer Support Line at (860) 768-5999.