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Day 8

Update your software

Theory

Though they’re not always quick to admit it, computer programmers make mistakes. The program you’re using to read this article is probably full of cracks and faults, often referred to as “bugs”.

For the most part, bugs are innocuous. A webpage may show up with parts missing, your device might freeze—but your security isn’t at risk.

Except, sometimes it is.

If a software team discovers a critical issue with their product, they usually release a fix. By keeping software up-to-date, you get fixes as soon as possible.

Homework

For this section, we won’t cover specific devices, app stores, or marketplaces since there are too many to cover comprehensively. Instead, we’ll talk about types of software that you can update. Spend time going through your computer and phone to see if you can find any out-of-date software.

While you’re applying updates, look for the option to enable auto-updates; this removes the manual step for next time.

Operating system

Your operating system—be it Windows, Android, OS X, Linux, iOS, or other—likely has the most "bang for your buck" update-wise. Every program you run goes through the operating system, so a flaw here can be bad news.

Just keeping your operating system up-to-date is not enough; exploits in individual programs can be equally harmful.

App store / marketplace

If your device manages apps and programs through a centralized “app store”, there’s usually an option to update everything in one swoop. This can extend beyond official device ecosystems; Steam, for example, is a single program that manages several game programs.

App stores are a good chance to evaluate the condition of many programs at once, but you may still have programs that were installed outside of your device’s app store.

Browser plugins

From PDF readers to plugins like Adobe Flash, plugins and extensions that run in your browser can get out of date quickly and cause havoc.