Why Are Software Updates So Important?

Just like physical assets and machinery, software and digital platforms require regular updates and maintenance. 

The importance of keeping on top of updates can not be understated. In the best-case scenario, your users may notice a decrease in performance when regular maintenance is not undertaken. In the worst case, you could be leaving your platform vulnerable to malicious activity that could result in legal action.

In 2017 credit agency Equifax had a data breach that affected 143 million records. Subsequent investigations revealed that this was due to old and out-of-date systems that had not been updated in-line with basic security protocols. They notably failed to patch a disclosed vulnerability in Apache Struts, common open-source web server.

Patching vulnerabilities and general updates need to be maintained regularly. The sooner you update, the sooner you’ll feel confident your platform is more secure and more robust to deal with the demand placed upon it. 

Alongside maintaining and improving existing infrastructure, updates provide critical protections and patches for security vulnerabilities.  

Here are the main reasons why it’s important to update software regularly:

It’s not all about security

Software updates offer plenty of benefits outside of protecting you legally. These might include repairing security holes that have been discovered and fixing bugs; errors and flaws that can cause the software to produce an incorrect or unexpected result.

The underlying operating systems, frameworks and packages your platform is built on are being continuously updated to keep them secure and performant. It’s important to understand these updates can have a knock-on effect on your software which need to be addressed.

Updates can also add new features to your devices and remove outdated features that are slowing down or no longer adding to the system. This will help improve user experience and ensure your platform stays competitive.

Updates help patch security flaws

Hackers love security flaws, also known as software vulnerabilities. 

A software vulnerability is a security hole or weakness found in a software program or operating system. Hackers can take advantage of the weakness by writing code to target the vulnerability. 

First and foremost, updates keep you safe from known security holes, like the Apache vulnerability mentioned above. 

This is especially important when there is a new release available for the software or framework you use because most change logs and update notes reveal previously known exploits that have already been patched. 

Public knowledge of these exploits leaves your application easy prey for malicious users who are out to exploit these now known issues. Not securing these by updating, leaves your system open to compromise making your platform vulnerable.

Keep the hackers out

You probably keep a lot of documents and personal information on your platform. This information is valuable to cybercriminals. If the security patches are implemented, there is less risk to them being accessed.

If it is accessed, it can use it to commit crimes in your name or sell it on the dark web to enable others to commit crimes. If it’s a ransomware attack, they might encrypt your data. You might have to pay a ransom for an encryption key to get it back. Or, even worse, you might pay a ransom and not get it back.

It’s not all about you, it’s about your reputation. 

In the 21st century, digital assets are driving the heart of most companies, therefore an issue with the platform can reflect poorly on you.

As with broken functionality, any downtime or app crashes or reported misuse will put off your audience, so updates help maintain the reputation you have worked so hard to build. 

You deserve the latest and greatest

When software is brand new, it's generally built with the most up to date CMS, Operating System and Packages (at least when we build it!). This means you are at the highest level of functionality.

Over time, users will start to provide feedback and the underlying software ecosystem that sits behind your platform will change. This is when bugs start to appear.

These bugs can affect anything from the user interface to some of your core functionality. As part of our development process, we always test for bugs before going live, but down the line, it is almost inevitable that some will crop up, despite a thorough QA process.

Languages and frameworks are also constantly updated to remove security vulnerabilities and provide developers with better tools to build with.

For example, the latest version of PHP, PHP 7, has massively increased performance, meaning that applications running on this latest version are much quicker. PHP 7 also has optimised memory usage, which directly correlates to lower hosting costs for you.

This is where updates come into play, as these can both fix the bugs and provide more efficient software by updating any dependencies to the latest version. 

Alongside developing systems, our team can also perform audits to identify and fix platform issues and vulnerabilities.

Get in touch today to find out more.