Cyber Security Basics - Keeping Employee Software Updated

Posted by Corrin Jones on March 7, 2019

One of the first cybersecurity basics a company needs to cover is creating a software update policy. Software is periodically updated to protect an organization from newly discovered exploits. When software isn't updated, it becomes vulnerable. Yet while a company can control its own devices, it can't always control employee devices—and these employee devices can become a risk in and of themselves. 

Employees often use their own devices at work. If they don't keep them updated, it can create problems for network security. Employees need to be trained to keep their software as current as possible by establishing risk factors and training them on best practices. 

Cybersecurity Basics: Keeping the System Updated

Keeping systems updated can be a difficult task for employees. Often, members of your team need to keep track of so many other things that they simply forget to do it. Here are a few ways you can make it easier for employees to keep their systems protected:

  • Turn on automatic updates for the operating system. Most operating systems support "Automatic Updates" as a way to update the system whenever a new update rolls out. This is a solid general practice for a business because it takes the control of updates out of the employee's hands while still allowing them limited control over when the update occurs.

  • Create an update schedule. If automatic updates can't be turned on, then instead create a schedule for updates. This schedule has to include everything ranging from desktop computers to smartphones. All systems can potentially be vulnerable, including Internet of Things devices. If IoT devices aren't updated, the entire network can be at risk.

  • Use secure web browsers that offer automatic security updates. Browsers like Chrome and Firefox are regularly updated for security, to resolve known vulnerabilities. You can turn on automatic security updates in the settings.

  • Keep browser plug-ins updated. In addition to keeping the browser itself updated, it's important to also keep the plug-ins updated. Browser plug-ins are used to improve the functionality of a system, but they can also present some security risks.

  • Automate software application updates. Many software programs need to automatically update to defend against known risks. You can turn on automatic updates, but there's a caveat. If you rely upon integration between software programs, you may not want to do this because it can "break" interactions between software. If employees use more complex suites at home, the IT team may need to create an update schedule. 

  • Ensure that all business devices are on an automatic update schedule. If employees have work computers, work laptops, work phones or work tablets, these should be kept on an automatic update schedule to ensure that these devices at least are protected.

As you can see, automated software updates can help protect employee software—but it can only go so far. Manual updates may still be needed for some things and it's important that these updates be monitored and maintained on a schedule. 

Institute a Software Update Policy

To ensure that software is kept updated a business should have a clear policy in place. This should be included in other security policies so employees can be held accountable for keeping their software up to date. Without accountability, employees may not take the policy as seriously as they should and it may leave a business with little recourse if employees stop using it. 

A software update policy should include a list of the software solutions that need to be updated, in addition to how frequently they should be updated. This gives employees easy guidelines to follow rather than having more general guidelines. Of course, an employer also does have limited control over what employees do with their personal devices, which means employers should consider securing their systems on an application level as well

If an employer is unable to secure a system network on an application level, it may be necessary to institute device management policies that require employees to use work devices to connect to the network even at home. For highly secured networks this is often the best choice. 

With employees frequently working from home and often not updating their solutions, a software update policy becomes an exceptionally important factor when managing your company's security. Without a policy in place, a business can easily start to fall prey to new exploits. If software isn't properly updated and maintained, it won't just hamper security, but also productivity. At the same time, keeping systems updated can be a challenge in a world where employees are frequently using their own personal devices.

Are you struggling to keep your systems up to date? CWPS can help. Contact CWPS to get started.

2019 Cybersecurity Threat Ebook

Topics: Cyber Security