I was in DC last month and met an interesting man from Kentucky that teaches government agencies how to keep their computer systems secure. He had 14 flash drives on him and was a serious self-professed tech geek or guru. He was happy to find in me another tech geek, although I have no problem admitting that he was wayyyy above my head. Anyways, he described his clients as those with “stars, bars or 3-letter acronyms”. Being in DC, I can only imagine. We seized upon the situation and asked him a common question for us regular people, “what is the best way to avoid viruses?”. I had just gotten one on my Mac so it was fresh on my mind.
Here’s his answer… the #1 way to keep your computer secure is to… keep your software UP TO DATE. Whenever you get that annoying notice “software update available”, do it. Don’t click it away or ask it to remind you later. We asked, “how often?”. His answer, “how about hourly?”, which drive his point home. He went into a lengthy conversation about why this is so important, but my the bottom line is to keep your programs up to date.
How long has it been since you’ve updated your programs? Unfortunately, if you have been a little lax, your first update might take a while.
You might be wondering how to ensure your programs are up to date. Here’s a free resource from you from CNET, called CNET Tracker. First, you’ll need to create an account with CNET, then you can download CNET Tracker onto your computer (make sure you download the correct version for your PC or Mac) for free. Once downloaded and installed, open the program, to scan your computer. You might be surprised at how many programs are out of date and thus putting you at risk. I had an ugly long list, but maybe you’ll be in luck and your list will be short.
Here is a result of one of my scans:
Here is a partial list of my results. You can see very common programs are out of date. Your browsers need to be updated very frequently.
I would recommend upgrading to CNET Tracker Plus like I did (cost me $19 on sale); so that the updates are performed for you automatically… huge time-saver. Otherwise, you’ll need to update each program one by one by one. I don’t think anyone enjoys taking the time out of their busy days to performs software updates. I know I don’t.
CNET Tracker Plus performing the updates for me:
Go here to download CNET Tracker: http://www.cnet.com/techtracker-free/
It will prompt you to upgrade during the process. Now, you can set it and forget it!