What you do when you turn six

When you turn six, you usually go to primary school and start learning how to read and write. You start a self-improvement process which is usually making you a better individual.

Although a human being and a software are rather different, we can probably make a parallel between the improvement process related to learning for individuals and the improvement process related to updates and patches for software programs.

According to Norton, there are at least 5 reasons why general software updates and patches are important.

1. Software updates do a lot of things

Software updates offer plenty of benefits. It’s all about revisions. These might include repairing security holes that have been discovered and fixing or removing computer bugs. Updates can add new features to your devices and remove outdated ones.

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2. Updates help patch security flaws

Hackers love security flaws, also known as software vulnerabilities. A software vulnerability is a security hole or weakness found in a software program or operating system. Hackers can take advantage of the weakness by writing code to target the vulnerability. The code is packaged into malware – short for malicious software.

An exploit sometimes can infect your computer with no action on your part other than viewing a rogue website, opening a compromised message, or playing infected media.

What happens next? The malware can steal data saved on your device or allow the attacker to gain control over your computer and encrypt your files.

Software updates often include software patches. They cover the security holes to keep hackers out.

3. Software updates help protect your data

You probably keep a lot of documents and personal information on your devices. Your personally identifiable information – from emails to bank account information – is valuable to cybercriminals.

They can use it to commit crimes in your name or sell it on the dark web to enable others to commit crimes. If it’s a ransomware attack, they might encrypt your data. You might have to pay a ransom for an encryption key to get it back. Or, worse, you might pay a ransom and not get it back.

Updating your software and operating systems helps keep hackers out.

4. It’s not all about you

OK, cyber security is mostly about you, but you’ve got other people to think about, too. If your device gets a virus, you could pass it on to your friends, family, and business associates. That’s why you want to keep your software and systems updated.

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5. You deserve the latest and greatest

Updates not only patch security holes, they can also add new features and improve existing ones. You don’t want to fall behind the times, right?

In that way, software updates really are all about you. Your software program may get a new shot of stability – no more crashing. Or an update might boost program performance – more speed. You deserve no less.

You could ignore those reminders to update your software, but you might be missing out on a lot, starting with your cyber security.

Six years ago, on April 29, 2014, Apache OpenOffice – an almost abandoned fork of OpenOffice.org – announced his last major release. Since then, it has been updated only seven times, with minor releases providing only patches, and in some cases the update was months late after the disclosure of a major vulnerability, leaving users unprotected from exploits.

During the same timeframe, LibreOffice – the often updated fork of OpenOffice.org – announced 13 major releases, each one including new features and interoperability improvements, and 84 minor releases providing patches. In case of vulnerabilities, LibreOffice patched version has always been released before the disclosure, protecting users from exploits.

Having turned six, Apache OpenOffice – if it was a human being – would have been old enough to go to primary school and start the self-improvement process. Unfortunately, software doesn’t go to school, and needs developers to be improved with new features and patched for security.

So, if you are still using Apache OpenOffice is probably the right time to switch to LibreOffice.

If you are just a user, you will benefit from a larger number of features, a faster solution to security and feature related issues, and a superior level of interoperability with proprietary document formats. To download LibreOffice, click here: https://www.libreoffice.org/.

If you want to contribute, you will be welcomed by a larger global community, with mentors willing to help in development, quality assurance, localization, user interface design, documentation, and marketing. To join the community, click here: https://whatcanidoforlibreoffice.org/.

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