Give Your Computer a Fighting Chance

Regardless of the type of computer you use, someone somewhere is always trying to infect it or break in.  One of the best defenses you have is keeping your operating system and applications up to date.  Today, like it or not, patching is a necessity although many treat it as optional.

When software vendors announce patches, miscreants immediately begin reverse engineering (if they weren’t already) the changes to determine where the security holes exist in the software.  They then write code designed to exploit these holes and gain access to your computer.  The number one way to deliver this malicious code is via Internet browsing followed by email attachments.

To give yourself a fighting chance, here and at home, it’s imperative that your operating system AND applications be kept up to date.  Apple provides a software update utility that you can run manually or on a schedule to check for the latest updates.  Windows has a similar utility that checks for updates on a regular basis (if enabled).  For Linux distributions, determining what updates are needed is generally a manual effort.

Unfortunately, for everyday applications, the update process varies from vendor to vendor.  However, below are some key applications that should always be kept up to date:

Adobe Reader & Acrobat
Adobe Flash
Adobe Shockwave
Apple QuickTime
Apple Safari
Google Chrome
Mozilla Firefox
Real Player
Sun Java

Vendors certainly don’t make it easy to keep your computer current.  However, there is a free on-line tool (no signup required) that you can try that does a decent job at indicating where upgrades are needed.  If you browse to the link below, this tool will check the versions of a number of the applications listed above (you’ll have to accept and install the plug-in first).

Give it a try!  I think you’ll be surprised at how many of your applications are out of date (and vulnerable to malicious attacks).

Icon Ninjas