Why should you update your software?

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As your trusted financial institution, we believe it’s crucial to ensure our members know how they can protect their financial information. One of the easiest ways to keep your information secure is to keep your phone or computer software and apps updated. It’s necessary to update your software regularly to ensure hackers can’t access private information, like your Social Security number or bank account numbers. Below are four best practices for updating your software:

Update often

Always keep your software updated when updates become available and don’t delay. These updates fix general software problems and provide new security patches where criminals might get in. Hackers are always looking for new ways to get to your data through software, so updating your software is an easy way to stay a step ahead.

It’s better to install software updates as soon as they’re available. If you can’t, a good rule of thumb is to check for significant software updates weekly. You should also regularly back up your data to protect it from accidental loss.

Get it from the source

When downloading a software update, only get it from the company that created it. Never use a hacked, pirated, or unlicensed version—even if your friend gave it to you. These often contain malware and cause more problems than they solve.

Using unlicensed or pirated software can have severe consequences. Not only does your personal information become vulnerable to cybercriminals, but it’s also illegal. Using or distributing pirated software violates copyright law, and you could face up to $150,000 in penalties. You can even face up to five years in prison.

Make it automatic

Legitimate software usually provides an option to update your software automatically. Automatic updates allow you to get the latest security fixes as quickly as possible without doing anything. You can let your device do all the work when newer software or app versions are available.

There are some reasons to disable automatic updates. If you like knowing what changes or improvements are coming to apps or software, you can turn off automatic updates to keep yourself informed. Turning off automatic updates also allows you to control when they happen. But, some app or software updates involve critical security fixes that hackers actively seek. If you disable automatic updates, stay tuned to any announcements the developer may have about security updates to keep data secure.

Watch for fake software updates

Maybe you’ve seen pop-up windows when visiting a website or opening software that urgently asks you to download something or fill out a form. These are always fake and should not be followed. A browser will only warn you not to move forward or stay on a specific web address because it might not be secure or could contain malware.

Some phony software updates are more distinguishable than others. Pop-ups informing you that your device is infected with a virus or malware play on fear—and if you click on that pop-up, you’ll unknowingly install a virus or malware. Legitimate anti-virus software developers don’t use pop-up ads.

One of the most devious methods is receiving a notification via email that you need to update your software. You’ve provided your email address to the software company, and it’s reasonable to expect email communication about updates. Pay attention to the sender’s email address if you suspect something is off.

Following the above steps is essential to securing your personal and financial information. This is the second in a series of cybersecurity education posts to help you stay safe online. Over the next few months, we’ll share greater insight and tips on other ways to safeguard your online presence.

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