“I don’t have time for that operating system (OS) update, I’m in the middle of something. I don’t need any new features. There’s no risk in NOT updating, right?” Wrong! OS updates provide an essential connection between your computer and support, ensuring that bugs are fixed and risks are mitigated. And—of course—hackers are taking advantage of people who aren’t keeping their updates and patches current.
Perhaps the biggest risk in not using the most current OS is security. Consider that as attacker technologies have evolved, your security deterrents and alerts have not. Older systems may not have offered two-factor authentication upon log-in or have been able to run regular scans to detect weaknesses and stand-up barriers to attack. Hackers know these weaknesses and have begun to make it practice to seek out users with older operating systems because they know they are softer targets.
Businesses are certainly suffering from such attacks—saving money on OS updates that result in thousands or millions in downtime and theft of data—but the consequences are real for individual users as well. If attacked, your computer could be off-line for days or weeks, your personal and financial could be at risk, and, even if you aren’t attacked, you’re likely to be moving at a slower pace than an up-to-date OS can facilitate, and you may not be able to use all the cool and emerging tools that are compatible with current Operating Systems.
In 2016, the Mirai botnet was used to attack hugely popular sites like Twitter and Netflix, denying service to millions of their users simply because those billion-dollar companies hadn’t updated their firmware or OS. Just imagine what such a weapon could do to regular people!
If you aren’t sure what operating system you’re running, follow these simple steps:
- For PCs, click the Windows button/Settings/System/About. Scroll to Windows specifications and note the edition and version. To see the newest version and learn how to update your Microsoft OS, visit Microsoft Support.
- For Macs, click the Apple button in the upper left corner and select About This Mac. The version number appears after macOS. To see the newest version and learn how to update your Apple OS, visit Apple Support.
Remember that as software and operating systems evolve, so too must your hardware. New Operating Systems certainly can work on older computers—but not forever. Whenever upgrading to a new OS, doublecheck that your machine meets the minimum system requirements. If not, it may be time to start shopping for a new computer! (Don’t worry, they’re cheaper, lighter, and faster than when you did this last!)