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Protect Yourself: Updates

Cybercriminals are always looking for easy paths to get onto your devices.

One of the most common and simple ways they do this is through exploiting weakness in software—also known as vulnerabilities. Much like a thief attempting to break into a home, cybercriminals will always look for the easiest way in. When your software is not up to date, it is like leaving a door in your home unlocked.

What can you do?

By always updating software, you are essentially plugging known gaps that cybercriminals might use to try and get through. Software developers are constantly releasing updates for their products to fix any security concerns and improve functionality. Most software will ask you to update when a new version is released and you should always update as soon as possible. Consider replacing devices that can no longer receive updates.

Turn on automatic updates

Cybercriminals never stop looking for vulnerabilities or weaknesses, so you need to continually download the latest version of software to your devices.

The easiest way to stay on top is by turning on or confirming automatic updates where possible. An automatic update is a feature that checks for, downloads and installs updates, often prompting you for a time to install the update when it is convenient to you. This way, you can relax knowing that you are always using the most secure version.

This guide explains how to update your Windows, Apple and Android devices. For other products, such as routers and smart devices, check with the manufacturer for guidance.

Windows

By default, Windows operating systems use Windows Update, a tool that automates downloading and installing Microsoft Windows software updates over the Internet, as they become available.

Windows delivers both feature and quality updates. Feature updates are typically released twice per year and include new functionality and capabilities as well as potential fixes and security updates. Quality updates are more frequent and mainly include small fixes and security updates. Some optional updates, which include items like language packs, are not installed automatically.

You can set Windows Update to let you know when updates are available, and you can change when Windows installs your updates, allowing you to keep working without interruption.

For more advice on updates specific to your version of Windows, see Microsoft’s FAQ on Windows Update.

You can also update apps downloaded from the Windows Store on your device either automatically or manually. For more information, see how to manually get app updates, and how to turn on automatic app updates.

Apple

Your Apple device can install many updates automatically. This includes updates for apps from the App Store, updates for your operating system and background security updates, for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. With automatic updates turned on, your Apple devices will update overnight if they are on a charger and connected to Wi-Fi.

Apple also offers free upgrades to new versions of your operating system (e.g. iOS and macOS). Upgrades can be downloaded and installed automatically, but you will receive a notification and need to have your device plugged in and connected to the internet. You can also check for macOS updates manually in Software Update system preferences.

For more information, see how to get software updates on macOS, how to update your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to the latest version of iOS or iPadOS, and how to update your apple Watch.

To update apps downloaded from the App Store, you can turn on automatic App Updates or open the App Store and choose which apps to manually update. For more information, see how to update apps on your Apple device.

Android

Google System updates are released regularly to keep your device secure and working properly. However, only some Android devices receive timely updates and patches, depending on the device manufacturer.

By default, Google System services automatically updates your device with security, bug fixes, and new features. You will automatically receive a notification when an update for your Android operating system is available. When you see a notification to update, tap it to start the process and make sure to follow any instructions and prompts as they appear.

Android devices are made by different manufacturers, and each has a different process to install a system update. Check the guidance on your manufacturer’s website. For more information, see how to enable updates on your Android device.

You can update apps downloaded from the Google Play Store on your Android device either automatically or manually. For more information, see how to update apps on Android.

Other Devices and Software

Remember to turn on automatic updates for your other devices and software where possible. If you are unsure, check with the product’s manufacturer.  

What if the automatic update setting is unavailable?

If the automatic update setting is unavailable, you should regularly check for and install new updates through your software or device's settings menu. 

What if my older device and software do not receive any updates?

If your device, operating system or software is too old, it may no longer be supported by the manufacturer or developer. When products reach this ‘end of support’ stage they will no longer receive updates, leaving you vulnerable to cyber-attacks due to known software ‘bugs’. Manufacturers may also refer to these products are unsupported, vintage or obsolete. Examples of products that are end of support include Windows 7 operating system and the iPhone 6. If your device, operating system or software has reached end of support, we recommend upgrading to stay secure.

For more information you can read our Quick Wins for End of Support guide.

Checklist

Follow this checklist to ensure your devices and software always have the latest protection.

  • Ensure your device meets the requirements to support new updates. If your device or software is too old to receive updates, check the End of support Guidance. Upgrade to a supported product as soon as possible.
  • When you purchase a new device, check for updates straight away as part of the initial set up.
  • Turn on automatic updates where possible.
  • Back up data and files before upgrading your operating system to a newer version.
  • Check if your storage is full: devices running low on space can prevent the latest updates from being installed.
  • Regularly check for software and application updates if the automatic update setting is unavailable.