In the current digital landscape, technology evolves at a staggering pace. While this rapid evolution often brings a myriad of benefits with it, it also poses unique challenges, particularly in the realm of cyber security. Many businesses do not regularly update their hardware, operating systems or even the software they use, operating under the misguided notion that out-of-date software, operating systems, and hardware are merely costly inconveniences rather than pressing security risks.
But why do these pose a danger? In this article, we'll explain the dangers of using outdated systems, the upsides of timely updates, and why a well-rounded approach to patch management, monitoring, and upgrades is vital to your business's cyber security strategy.
When you use outdated software or operating systems, you're essentially leaving gaping holes in your cyber defences. Updates and Security Patches are released regularly by Operating System and Software Developer to patch known security flaws, by not updating you are leaving these security flaws as an active measure of attack. Cyber criminals are highly adept at identifying and exploiting these vulnerabilities and can be used to deploy a wide range of attacks on your business from ransomware, to launching phishing attacks and much more. By leaving your software out of date, you're offering them an open window into your business, putting all of your data at risk.
A data breach can be a catastrophic event for any business, often resulting in both immediate and long-term consequences and significant financial fallout. Outdated systems often lack the necessary security measures or patches to protect sensitive information, making them an attractive target for cyber criminals. This not only jeopardises your business’ confidential data but also that of your customers and clients.
Compliance with data protection regulations, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is non-negotiable for businesses in the UK. Using outdated software with known security risks may not meet the security protocols mandated by these regulations, opening you up to substantial fines and legal action.
In a business environment where efficiency is one of the highest priorities, outdated systems can also significantly hamper productivity. Older software and operating systems are generally not optimised for the highest performance, this can take a toll on the speed and reliability of tasks. Similarly, outdated systems may not even be compatible with new software applications or not run as well on older operating systems or hardware as they would on newer versions, further hampering productivity.
Non-compliance, especially that results in a cyber attack and data breach, can erode customer trust which is often difficult, if not impossible, to regain. In the digital age, reputation is everything. News of a Cyber Attack or Data Breach can spread quickly, causing immediate and often irreparable damage to your brand's reputation. Customers and clients are less likely to engage with a company they know to have suffered a cyber breach previously as they may be perceived as insecure, similarly existing customers are more likely to move to a competitor leading to a decline in business and revenues.
For a deeper understanding of these risks, Kaspersky provides an insightful explanation here.
Ageing hardware is often one of the leading reasons why businesses operate with out-of-data software or operating systems. Older Desktops, Laptops, and even Mobile Phones & Tablets, often do not meet the minimum requirements to be compatible with the latest Operating System and/or Software releases. Ensuring that your hardware meets the requirements to stay secure is a key element in making sure that your devices can run smoothly and stay secure. New Operating Systems and Software are also optimised to be more compatible with newer hardware, being quicker and providing enhancements for user productivity.
Unfortunately, not all devices are able to be upgraded or compatible with the latest operating systems and software. For example, in a Manufacturing environment, many manufacturing machinery operates with older hardware, running older software and software designed to run on older systems. In these cases, it is important to understand if these devices pose vulnerabilities to your business cyber security, and how you can ensure that you have the necessary infrastructure security measures in place.
Keeping your software, operating systems, and hardware up-to-date is a simple yet effective way to ensure that your devices are protected from essential cyber security flaws. Developers regularly release updates that patch known vulnerabilities in Software, Operating Systems, and even device drivers, making it increasingly difficult for cyber criminals to exploit known vulnerabilities. These security patches are your first line of defence against unauthorised access to your systems.
Keeping up to date is not just about security, updates often come loaded with new features designed to improve usability, and productivity and provide enhanced functionality. These enhancements can significantly boost operational efficiencies, providing you with tools that can lead to a competitive advantage.
Compliance with data protection laws and regulations is not optional, it is mandatory. Just one of the essential elements to protect your data against cyber attacks, and remain compliant, is to keep your devices updated. Security updates ensure that you meet the stringent requirements laid out in the legal frameworks of data protection regulations, thereby safeguarding you from potential fines and legal actions.
In competitive industries, having up-to-date hardware, operating systems and software can provide a significant edge. Updated endpoints are generally, faster, more efficient and less prone to crashes and security breaches, enabling your employees to be more productive and allowing your business to offer better services compared to your competitors who may be running on outdated systems.
A structured approach to regular updates is pivotal to maintaining a secure digital environment. We assist businesses by implementing patch management policies and tools which scan endpoints for available updates and schedule or apply them as they are released. Automating updates mitigates the risk of exposure to zero day security issues, which is often a key factor in security breaches.
Scheduled Cyber Security audits and Risk Assessments offer another layer of defence. These help you to identify any outdated devices that are due for an upgrade and also help you assess your wider infrastructure to help plan upgrade paths and where cyber attackers could potentially target your business. This proactive approach ensures that you are always one step ahead in maintaining an up-to-date and secure IT environment.
Educating your staff about cyber security issues, common tactics to monitor for and the significance of timely updates is crucial. They should be made aware of best practices, how to identify signs of a breach, and what steps to follow should they suspect a cyber security issue. A well-informed team is your last line of defence in preventing and addressing cyber attacks.
EDR continuously monitors all of your business endpoints to provide an enhanced layer of security. Endpoint Detection and Response uses Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to detect anomalies or attacks on your endpoints, providing immediate alerts in case of any security incidents. The quicker you’re informed about a breach or vulnerability, the faster you can take corrective actions to mitigate damage.
Operating on out-of-date software, operating systems, and hardware invites cyber threats and puts your entire business at risk. To ensure that your business’s digital assets are truly secure, they must align with cyber security compliance requirements as part of a comprehensive Cyber Security and IT strategy which includes Update and Patch Management, a robust inventory and device upgrade path and much more.
Don't let negligence be the downfall of your business’ security. At TwentyFour we work with businesses to ensure that they have solutions in place designed to protect you from the latest threats, our in-house team of IT and Cyber Security experts work to ensure that your endpoints are protected with the latest security patches and are actively monitored and protected from cyber criminals attempting to use the latest attack methods to breach your systems.
Contact us today to take our Cyber Security Health Check where we can help your business fend off cyber criminals who are working to undermine your business security.