Security · May 27, 2021

The Purpose of Software Updates? To Help Keep Your Information Secure

Do you groan at every software update notification that pops up on your devices and then treat them as a nagging nuisance to be ignored? If so, you're not alone.

Many people don't understand the importance of updating their operating systems, dismissing critical updates as trivial interruptions to their digital activities. In reality, software updates are an essential way to protect your information. In fact, a key purpose of software updates is to keep you safe on all your devices. Here's what you should know.

Is it important to update your operating system?

If there's a flaw or vulnerability in any app, software program or operating system, chances are there's a cybercriminal ready to take advantage of it to steal private information, such as your passwords or Social Security number. They may then use this information to commit crimes, including identity theft and fraud.

App and software developers fight back, continuously testing for bugs and flaws in their platforms and publishing fixes to eliminate these threats. Often, that's when you'll get those software update notifications. These updates patch security holes, resolve problems such as bugs or viruses, and add new features to keep programs running smoothly and safely.

For this reason, don't just brush off those pop-up windows nagging you to update your phone, tablet, computer and connected devices. They could save you from significant stress and strife in the future. If you'd rather take a passive approach that doesn't require you to update manually, you can set up automatic updates on your devices.

Signs of a digital breach and what to do next

Some of the red flags signaling that your data or device has been breached are:

  • Suspicious pop-up messages from apps or programs you don't recognize
  • An influx of spam or phishing emails, often designed to look like brands you trust (e.g. Microsoft, Apple, PayPal, etc.)
  • Unusual activity in your bank or credit card accounts
  • Being notified about credit card applications you didn't initiate

Although laws require businesses to notify you when your information is stolen in a data breach, it's still important to be proactive in safeguarding your data.

If you suspect you've been the victim of a data breach, there are actions you can take to protect yourself. Contact your bank using the phone number on the back of your debit or credit card. For unfamiliar credit applications or checks on your credit report, contact the credit reporting agencies directly.

If you think your information might've been exposed in a data breach, you could try searching for your email address through an online security research database like F-Secure or Have I Been Pwned?.

Keeping your information secure takes minutes, but trying to undo damage caused by cybercriminals takes much longer. Remember, the purpose of software updates is more than just to enhance your experience—they help protect you from digital fraud, too.


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This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal or tax advice. First Citizens Bank (or its affiliates) neither endorses nor guarantees this information, and encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation.

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