Patches? We don't need no steenking patches!
This seems to be the attitude of many business people, regarding their computer systems. But keeping your machines updated is a critical part of their regular maintenance. Kind of like dusting them out, or washing the keyboards in the dishwasher. (Don't actually try that one, although I do know of people who have done it!)
Why don't they keep their computers current? For some, it's the fear that something will suddenly go wrong with their computers, and their business software will just stop working. For others, it's just the bother of having to go around to all those computers, and do the updates, especially since things seem to be working as they are. Many people are convinced that their machines are set to automatically update, and therefore must be current... and by the way, what does that little yellow shield in the tray mean, anyway? And let's face it... some of us are just lazy, especially when it comes to dealing with things we really don't understand anyway.
But small business owners can't afford to be lazy, when it comes to our security. For most of us, our entire businesses are on our computers. When they're down, we're down; we're not making money, or we're severely hampered in our ability to do so.
How important are they?
Remember the Conficker worm that caused everyone to panic, back in March and April? It spreads, mostly, through a security flaw that Microsoft patched in an update made available back in October 2008! Well, according to industry pros, including Symantec, there are still some 50,000 new machines infected every day! Many, if not most, still don't have the patch installed that would have prevented it.
What should we know?
Well, for one thing, that little yellow shield often means that your machine is not up-to-date, no matter what the auto-update settings are. Many people have their machines set to download, but not install updates automatically. And there are many updates and patches that want user-interaction, and just won't do the automatic update without it. Often, these are required in order for other updates to be installed - if you don't install them, you don't even know about the others.
Security vulnerabilities cost money
In fact, they cost a lot of money. A Computer Economics article, from 2007, showed damages of more than $13 billion almost every year since 1999, and that data's already aging. Malware costs companies in equipment, in professional services - like the computer technician who has to come in to fix the problem, or the attorney who has to defend you and your company from claims that you did not make adequate efforts to protect customer data - and in time... lots and lots of time. Time that the computers are out of service; time that the users may be sitting around idly.
Keeping your machines updated can prevent many outbreaks, by locking down the vulnerabilities before malware is commonly available to exploit them. Keeping them updated can save you money!
What about the concern that some of your business software will develop problems, after an update? Well, if you're running old software, this actually could be an issue. In some cases, it's actually necessary to roll back a security update on a particular machine, until another solution becomes available. Perhaps there's a patch provided by the software manufacturer to address the problem. Maybe you need to consider an upgrade or even a replacement to your current software. A consultation with your technology advisors can help you to make the appropriate business decision.
Software update deployment can be a real pain, especially for a small business with a lot of computers. It can take hours to get around to each desktop, downloading and installing updates. Again, your technology advisors can be very helpful here. Updates, and even new software packages, can often be scheduled and deployed to hundreds of machines, automatically.
This can help the lazy among us too. You don't have to remember to install updates and patches, because you've got someone else doing that for you, automatically.
You need to know
Like everything else in your business, information is key. How do you know if your computers are all up-to-date with their security patches? How do you make sure they get deployed without causing you a lot of time, trouble, and headache?
By contacting companies like Working Nets, of course! (Hey - it's our blog. You can't expect us to completely avoid the occasional shameless plug!) Give us a call to learn how our new Managed Services Program can help you make sure that your systems are up-to-date, and much more!