Not Sexy… Just Effective

by Tony Rushin

Like flossing your teeth every night, there’s nothing sexy or glamorous about applying regular updates to the key components of your computer network.  However, there are significant rewards.  Regular flossing is linked to warding off diseases – including heart disease; applying regular updates is linked to warding off malware – including viruses, worms, Trojans and spyware.

In my August 1st blog I wrote about 3 areas to pay attention to for computer health: infrastructure, antivirus software and updates.  In previous blogs I provided tips on infrastructure and antivirus software.  In today’s blog I will focus on tips for applying updates – more specifically, software updates.

There are 3 main reasons companies put out software updates: 1) to fix functional problems, 2) to deliver enhanced functionality and 3) to tighten up security.  Relevant to reason #3, the bad guys are smart and they’re always working hard to get at your sensitive information.  That’s why you need to download and apply software updates – sometimes called patches – on a regular basis.

What needs to be updated?  Here’s a partial list: firewall, router, switch, spam filter, server OS, desktop OS, AV software, browser, applications, utilities.  Here are some tips:

Tip #1: Make sure you – or your IT person – are registered to receive update alerts for every piece of hardware and software you own.

Tip #2: Automation is efficient but beware.  Setting up automated updates for shared resources such as servers, firewalls and switches could be a problem since some of the updates may require a system reboot. Plus, if the update gets “hung up” during the process many people could be negatively impacted.  In addition, a best practice is to test the patches prior to rolling them out on the network.

Tip #3: On the other hand, do make sure your antivirus software is set to receive and apply automated and continuous updates.

Tip #4: If nothing else, make sure updates are being applied on a monthly basis to your firewalls, servers, web browser (including important utilities like Java and Adobe) and your desktop operating system.  These are the most vulnerable entry points for malware.

aala12-wsus_logoTip #5: Have a process and tools, such as Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), that helps you build and keep a regular update habit across the firm.

This ends my series on the Big 4 of Malicious Software and the steps you can take with your infrastructure, antivirus software and updates to keep your computer and computer network healthy.  Even with all of the right precautions there are smart bad guys working hard to steal your sensitive information so “let’s be careful out there”!

This is the 12th of 23 blogs I’m writing to celebrate the Atlanta Association of Legal Administrators’ 23rd annual Business Partner Expo.  This year the Business Partner Expo will be held from 3:00 – 6:30 pm on August 17th at the Cobb Galleria.  Over 150 legal administrators and their guests are expected to be on hand learning about the latest technologies, finding solutions to business issues, uncovering emerging trends and developing valuable partnerships to help their law firms.  Already an AALA member?  I’ll see you there!  Not an AALA member?  Give me a call at 404.943.0800 x133 to discuss how you might be able to attend as a guest!

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