Tech Updates

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Tech Updates: a reader asks…

Do I need to apply updates to my computer, smartphone, tablet, etc. as soon as they become available or can I delay things?

Annoying as always, keeping your technology up-to-date is a chore, but a necessary one. Some things get updated once a year or so, some once a month, some even more often. The main reason for keeping up-to-date is for your own security. Out-of-date software, firmware, operating systems, etc. are a security concern, because bad actors are constantly searching for vulnerabilities to exploit. As we’ve seen from watching the news, hackers are hard at work compromising anyone and everyone. Keeping your systems up-to-date is the first step in overall good security practices.

In general, you should apply updates to your consumer technology devices as soon as they are made available to you. This includes all electronic devices you own. There are a few caveats to that policy for specific items:

  1. For your Apple Mac and Microsoft Windows computers, major updates can and probably should be delayed for a month or two, while early adopters work out the bugs. This does not include minor updates. For Macs, a major update changes the name of the macOS, such as from Big Sur to Monterey. For Windows 10, major updates are usually the Spring and Fall updates, or, as we saw in the Fall of 2021, a number change from Windows 10 to Windows 11. These major updates can’t be installed automatically, you have to initiate them.
  2. For devices like TVs, you may have to look for a firmware update on the manufacturer’s website, download it to a thumbdrive and then install it. Newer TVs can allow you to download over the internet. Firmware updates can be put off for a month or so, but shouldn’t be ignored forever.

In 2022, many of your computers, smartphones, tablets and even network routers are often set to auto-update. That doesn’t mean that the updates will be applied! There are any number of reasons why that doesn’t happen. It’s always safest to check for updates on a regular basis. One handy method is to set aside one day a month to do basic maintenance.

If you have an older computer or device, you may not be able to install the latest version of the operating system or firmware. Manufacturers generally have a service life measured in 10 years or less (sometimes a lot less). The list below shows current versions as of the date this article was published, your older hardware may not be able to run it. But you should check for and install the latest version your hardware supports.

For Microsoft Windows 10 & 11 PCs, the current version of Windows is 21H2.

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For Apple Macs, the current version of macOS is Monterey 12.2.

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For Apple iOS devices, you can tap Settings>General>Software Update to see if any updates are available. For the most part, you should install the update whenever it becomes available. As of Jan. 26, 2022, the current version of iOS for iPhones and iPads is 15.3.

For Apple Watches, you can check the Watch app on your iPhone, going to General>Software Update and installing if listed. the current version is 8.4.

For Apple TV’s (HD and 4K) and Homepods, the current version of tvOS is 15.3.

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For Android phones and tablets, it can get more complicated as updated operating systems are put out by Google (who owns the Android operating system), but your cell phone carrier will most likely manage the updating of your device. The current Android version is 12.

In addition to the operating system of your computing device, you may have installed software or apps that also need to be kept up-to-date. Using old versions of application software can be dangerous. Why? Because bad actors can obtain the same software as any consumer and either reverse-engineer it or otherwise experiment to find security vulnerabilities they can exploit.

The only 3rd party computer security software that I currently recommend using is Malwarebytes Premium, and the current version for that is 4.5.2 for Windows and 4.13.5 for Macs. If you use a different product, be sure to check with the software developer to ensure you’re only running the latest currently released version.


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One Comment

  1. In case you want more validation on the importance of keeping your software up-to-date, CISA (the US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency) has published an Insights document at https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/CISA_Insights-Implement_Cybersecurity_Measures_Now_to_Protect_Against_Critical_Threats_508C.pdf

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