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It’s HACK-oween: Five Steps to Updating Your Computer Software – What Have You Done So Far?

It’s HACK-oween: Five Steps to Updating Your Computer Software – What Have You Done So Far?

Cybercrime is on the Rise

The first line of defense against cybercrime is straightforward: update your operating system and other high-priority software applications.

It may be Halloween for some but for all the cyber-goblins it is always HACK-oween. These sinister acts are common, and even scarier – no one is immune. And remember: In cyberspace no one can hear you scream.

Our recent newsletter discussed how to handle a security breach in your company.

Phishing is the most common way bad actors try to gain access, but there are other approaches, and many now attack mobile devices as well as computers.

These can include:

  • Hacking, where someone gets unauthorized access to a device
  • Malware, software intended to harm your computer or compromise its use including viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and adware
  • Ransomware, a type of malware that locks your device and demands payment to release it
  • Spam, the mass distribution of unsolicited messages, advertising, or pornography

If you think a device is infected, look for the symptoms below.

  • It seems to take a long time to load data and websites or seems to run more slowly than usual
  • The homepage you set for your web browser looks different
  • Your computer or programs you’re running crash frequently
  • It starts up slowly, restarts unexpectedly, or doesn’t start up at all

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to do real harm. Slowing down your device can make it challenging to complete even simple tasks. Frequent restarts interrupt work, annoy the user, and may compromise data.

The first line of defense is straightforward: update your computer software. Companies release updates frequently to stay abreast of the latest security flaws; it pays to take advantage of their hard work. If you haven’t done so in a while, the process may be painful but it will give you peace of mind.

If you are on the Windows 7 operating system, it is imperative that you act swiftly. Microsoft will end support on January 14: no more security patches, no help. You are on your own, at high risk and non-compliant with HIPAA, FINRA and other agency regulations.

Cybercriminals take advantage of out-of-date operating systems.
Cybercriminals take advantage of out-of-date operating systems.

Here are five steps to updating your computer software.

  1. Conduct an audit to identify your potential liability. Examine all your computers, external hard drives, and thumb drives. Check to see whether operating systems and browsers have been updated to the most current release. If your software is severely out of date, this may mean you have to update other programs, too.
  2. Don’t forget mobile devices. Bad actors are attacking smartphones and
    tablets more frequently. While users may expect hacking attempts on a computer, they are often not anticipating trouble on their smartphone. Distracted, they may tap a link or respond to an email they might otherwise ignore.
  3. Check all software on each device. Don’t forget about business-critical software like accounting or inventory management. Check software versions to determine system requirements.
  4. Set a budget. Identify what software you’ll need to buy vs. what you can upgrade at no charge. While many upgrades may be free, you may need to purchase new licenses for outdated software.
  5. Plan and execute the upgrade. Work with your IT team or a trusted partner like Cantrell’s Computer Sales & Service to develop and implement a plan for making sure your computer software is up-to-date.

The greatest assurance you can have is joining with us at Cantrell’s Computer Sales & Service to help combat the attack on small businesses across the US.  Call us at 925.827.1200 or email us at to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.

The risk of losing data or experiencing a data breach is too great for you to ignore.

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