The software that may be on your computer includes:

Microsoft products (either bundled with the Windows operating system or purchased separately)

  • Office (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook)
  • Media Player
  • Publisher
  • Project

Commonly pre-loaded (when you buy the computer)

  • Adobe Reader
  • Adobe Flash
  • Java
  • Roxio Creator

Other applications (which you load yourself from a CD/DVD or via the internet)

  • Printer drivers
  • Accounts software
  • Security software
  • iTunes

As is the case with the Microsoft Windows operating system, online criminals quickly find vulnerable areas in other software and continue to do so for the lifetime of the version. To counter this, the software manufacturers release regular updates such as security updates or critical updates, which protect against malware and security exploits. Other types of updates correct errors that enhance the software’s functionality, and are not necessarily security related.

The risks

Not keeping your software up to date can result in serious issues, affecting both your computer and your own personal security. These include:

  • Viruses, spyware and other malware.
  • Cyber-criminal attacks.
  • Crashing, freezing and generally poor performance.

As well as resolving security issues, software updates frequently contain improvements and new features.

Protecting your computer

You will generally receive a notification from the software manufacturer in the form of an alert on your screen, that updates are available. You will normally be given the choice of whether to download and install the update immediately or later. Our recommendation is to download and install as soon as possible.

Some software updates require you to restart your computer in order to complete the installation process. Again, you will normally be given the option of doing this immediately or later. We recommend that you do this as soon as possible.

Downloading the latest software updates does not negate the need to be running the latest versions of antivirus, anti-spyware and firewall software.