When you accept payment at your business or perform any type of online transaction, you assume the technology is up to snuff enough to protect your customer’s data. Yet stories continue to hit the news that prove otherwise.
Take this recent story about an IT security breach, for example. A flaw in computer chips developed by Intel has left billions of devices vulnerable to a security breach. These devices likely include your smartphones, computers on your business’s network, and your servers. The affected chips are found in hardware top manufacturers, including HP, Dell, Lenovo, Microsoft and Apple. This flaw affects almost all intel chips manufactured in the past 20 years.
The good news in this nightmare sounding scenario is that executing an attack on these vulnerable chips is difficult at best, so the chances of passwords and sensitive data getting stolen is unlikely. Still, it begs the question – how can you be sure your data is safe from a security breach?
The answer: Security patches.
What Are Security Patches?
A patch in the IT world is simply a piece of software designed to fix a problem. Because software is constantly updated, iterated, and improved, patches are common.
Patches are released in the software world regularly. Your phone, for example, regularly gets updated to run smoother and work better with the latest apps.
Security patches are fixes designed specifically to minimize vulnerabilities. Without updating these, the operating system you work from and the programs you use to run your business are at a higher risk of being attacked by malware or hackers. Installing these patches is the best way to keep your computer as safe as possible against the latest threats.
Makes sense, but there’s a little more to it that you should know in order to keep your data as safe as possible.
Ways to Update These Patches
Sometimes, the initial patches released don’t solve the problem entirely. In these cases, you might not want to update right away. Instead, you can wait to make an update allowing the developer time to work out any bugs that might be associated with the new patch. This requires you and your IT provider to know what’s included in the update.
In other cases, the updates happen automatically. This is especially true of operating systems on your phone or computer.
And in other cases, you must manually update each patch. This is typically done on servers where IT experts generally manage the updates, picking and choosing which ones to update and when.
The timing of your updates are typically up to you but it’s always critical that you know what’s being updated and why. For example, if you didn’t know about the Intel flaw and failed to do a security patch to minimize risk associated with this hardware error, hackers could potentially access your customer’s credit card information, your business account information, and other sensitive data. The key here is to understand what’s getting updated and ensure you’re always updating security-related patches.
Ensure Your Operating System is Supported
Microsoft has stopped supporting some older operating systems, including Windows 7. If your operating system is no longer supported, you’ll no longer receive mainstream support. Over time, this could leave your business and customer data more vulnerable to an attack. Now is a good time to look at your operating system and talk to your IT provider about whether or not it is still supported. However, Microsoft will still continue releasing security updates for Windows 7 up until 2020.
Keep Your Systems Safe
Here’s the lesson in all of this. Security patches are a critical component of your business’s health. Without them, you will expose your business with gaping security vulnerabilities.
We’re here to help. Stay extra vigilant by keeping security top of mind and then call us. We’ll work with you to help you understand more about what’s getting updated and whether your operating system is supported. Don’t leave yourself and your customers at risk by ignoring this critical piece of IT security. Call us today.