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The importance of updating your operating system:

What is an Operating System?

An operating system, quite often abbreviated to OS is an interface between a computer user and computer hardware. An operating system is software which performs all the basic tasks like file management, memory management, process management, handling input and output, and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers etc.

An operating system enables applications to interact with a computer's hardware. Examples of an OS: Windows, MacOS, Linux and Android to name but a few.

Are Operating System updates important?

Operating system updates are probably one of those things you hear about being mentioned from time to time but how important are they? Very important in fact, and there are some very good reasons for that. You may think that your device is running absolutely fine and doesn’t need to be updated, so therefore it’s not anything to worry about just now. However, it is worth doing sooner rather than later.

To put it crudely, updating your operating system has two purposes: new features and security updates:

- Feature updates include a whole host of benefits from adding new features which make your life easier and introducing customisations so you can change things up, to fixing those frustrating bugs that you encounter every so often

- However, the really key benefit, is that because vulnerabilities have been fixed, the security of your device is improved.

When a malicious individual scours the internet looking for information about you, one key thing they are after is the Operating system and version you are using. This is because all software contains coding errors. The more complex the software, the greater the number of errors. Software vendors know this, and employ a team to devise, test, and distribute fixed and security updates. Never buy software that doesn’t have an option to be updated!

When an error that causes a vulnerability is discovered by ethical hackers or security researchers it is disclosed to the vendor. For example, Microsoft (vendor) would be contacted if a Windows vulnerability is found. The vendor will then be given a month to create, test, and apply a patch or update to remedy this issue. After this time, the vulnerability is then documented and made public in one of many vulnerability databases, which are easily accessible on the internet. The cybercriminal will search for any vulnerabilities associated with the Operating system and version you are using and will use this information to try and gain access to your system and cause damage

Therefore, it is imperative that you apply the update as soon as it becomes available (and certainly within 14 days) to reduce the options that cyber criminals have to use against you. Typically, vendors will announce which Operating systems and versions are no longer going to be supported and become end of life, leaving any potential future vulnerabilities unpatched.

A notable example is Windows 10 version 2H12 which will see support end on the 13th of June 2023. Thankfully version 22H2 is available! Just use the Windows updates option on your desktop.

If you are unsure, plenty of sources on the Internet provide this information, one of which you can find in the useful links section below.

If you do find yourself in the situation of using an end-of-life operating system, it is immediately a serious security concern, so applying that update promptly is essential.

At least change it to a supported version of that system so that you can continue to remain secure and have the latest features available. Better still, look closely at the end-of-life dates of operating systems you may use, so you don’t get caught out again!

Networking hardware and applications also have dates they will become end of life but that is another story!

Useful Links:

How to find your Operating system version:

For Windows:

For macOS:

For Linux:

For Android:

For iPhone:

To find known end of life dates for Windows, MacOS etc:

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