Are Software Updates Necessary?
From the antivirus that slows your “work from home” boot up every morning, to the smartphone lags that force you into an update, software seems so needy. You are not alone wondering if you have time for that coffee when your update says 29% completed. In this article, we answer the pressing question of are software updates necessary? We break down the different types of software patches, and give you the scoop on ways to make the necessary updates pain free.
Reasons to update Software: When updates are good, they’re really good.
While there are many reasons to update software, we can all admit that we appreciate an update when they unlock a new feature, or they close a gaping security flaw.
Microsoft Windows has a monthly patch schedule, which bundles low level updates with what they classify as “Critical Updates” and “Security Updates”. These updates close a vulnerability or bug in the program that can range from annoying (program fails to operate after a sequence of operations is performed) to downright malicious (hacker operates string of commands on your device).
Responsible IT managers should have a rigid patching schedule with a regular maintenance cycle, and without these scheduled updates, the servers could be targeted for viruses and Ransomware. We, at Just Fix It, can make this easy for everyone, by applying an automated patching tool that sequences server updates, skips the trivial ones, and ensured both Critical and Security updates are applied and checked within 14 days of release by the software provider.
In February 2021, Microsoft revealed that the on-premises Exchange server that is often used to host important company emails was vulnerable to a specific attack that they did not have a patch for. Within 48 hrs, they had made a patch available, but because it was out of step with the monthly patch publishing cycle, it was estimated that 30,000 servers failed to patch their services on time and showed signs of an intruder presence from a cybercriminal group called HAFNIUM. Those that had patched had efficiently closed the door to these attacks. (https://aka.ms/ExchangeVulns)
When updates are bad, they’re just straight ugly!
There are certainly times when it seems petty to perform an update to fix something you didn’t see as an issue. We don’t use the “Malgun Gothic Bold” font on Instagram so why pause my scrolling to apply this patch?
Most developers will classify these types of updates as low priority or “informational” – Just Fix It and other experienced IT providers would skip those from running unless the user actually reported an issue with those exact symptoms. Software developers use these constant updates to keep track of what they call “valid users”, allowing them to pull fresh info about device type, operating system used, and blocking use of pirated copies. Companies like Google and Apple have now developed policies that block repeat offenders from updating more than once a week.
Unfortunately, there are updates that can unintentionally take down thousands of users at once. These take downs quickly show in our ticket queue, which deals with hundreds of tickets a day across multiple customers and systems. When the internet goes down in a building, users in that office are affected shortly, but when a common software has an update that goes wrong, it can affect all users worldwide, causing a real suck of staff and IT time and resources.
In cases like this, where a software developer is alert, they will create a rush-out-the-door patch sometimes called an “out of band” patch, as it comes ahead of their routine updates. Typically, the IT tech must uninstall the bad update and then load the available patch on all affected devices. In the worst cases, affected devices may have to be factory reset and all of the software reimaged.
Let us take the “update pain” away
So are software updates necessary? Yes! It is very important not to give up on applying security patches and feature updates. Having a trusted IT partner like Just Fix It that can guide you through the process, with our modern asset tracking tools, overnight scripts that can update a fleet of computers at once, even completing reboot steps remotely, can make updates easy and annoyance free. We can even make your life easier by standardizing your company devices, keeping all software up to date. We recommend using server and network Group Policies, reducing the risk of rogue settings causing conflict. Allow us to simplify your maintenance steps so you can get back to business.
Now I’m showing 98% completed, so I guess I probably don’t have time for that coffee….