What is a patch, and why is it so important?

by Kelly McNeil on September 5, 2018 in

We all sometimes ignore notifications that our computers, phones, and tablets are ready to update. Here's why you should stop, and how you could be compromising your cybersecurity safety by doing so!

In today’s cybersecurity landscape, it seems like we’re hearing more and more about software vulnerabilities being exposed and exploited by malicious parties. These malicious parties count on the fact that common, everyday users aren’t keeping up-to-date on all the latest cybersecurity news- meaning that they could be leaving the door wide open to attacks on their systems and programs.

Recently, you may have read about the urgent Adobe fix for two critical vulnerabilities that affected Photoshop Creative Cloud (CC) for both Windows and macOS, or the ecommerce vulnerability that had been left untreated by many users of several online payment tools. Or maybe you haven’t. Again, these cybercriminals count on the average computer user to not be aware of all the possible vulnerabilities they face.

So how do we, as tech professionals, fix this problem? How can you fix this problem at home? At work? How can you teach your family to protect themselves?

The short answer is: patching!

If you’re not familiar with the tech world, “patching” might mean darning socks or fixing ripped pants. Similar to these fabric patches, a computer software patch can be used to repair an exposed flaw in a program or operating system.

Along with other types of updates, like maintenance updates or complete overhauls, patches are part of essential preventative measures that are necessary to keep your computers, phones, tablets, etc. up-to-date and safe from malware and other cybersecurity threats.

Being knowledgeable and willing to apply patches as soon as you’re notified of them (whether that notification comes from a trusted news source or from the developer of the software in question) is your best defense against cybercriminals that seek to weaponize known vulnerabilities. (And, according to the NSA, this can occur in as little as 24 hours of a vulnerability being discovered!)

Think of software patches as armor that repels attacks and protects against various exploits. It’s important that you keep that armor polished and new! If you’re a TechBldrs client, we apply these patches to your systems on a monthly and as-needed basis. At home, you can best protect yourself by updating all your software as soon as you get a notification about an available patch. And, of course, by calling TechBldrs at (610) 937-0900 or emailing us at info@techbldrs.com if you have any questions!

Stay safe, stay smart!