When it comes to security and reliability your computer applications, we cannot stress enough the importance of being on current versions of software. Wait, you may ask, “why can’t I keep using the same software I already paid for years ago?” This is a question that many of our clients ask. This very issue came to light in Fairfax County last week, where the school district attempted to conduct distance learning using the Blackboard program, only to encounter a plethora of issues. Students found themselves unable to login, and security lapses allowed for profiles to be created by “guest” users posting inappropriate content. These problems eventually forced the district to cancel virtual school for the week, admitting that the version of the system they were using was 3 years outdated!
Why is using current software so important?
What came about appeared to catch the school administration off guard, however those in the IT community would see this as no surprise for a number of reasons. Using outdated, or “legacy” versions of software as we call it, is prone to many issues. While software updates can be a nuisance and at times expensive, they are necessary for a number of reasons, security being the most important. Hackers are always looking for bugs in software to exploit, and developers are deploying fixes as they are discovered- an ongoing cat and mouse game, per se. The more outdated the software, the more exploits available to a hacker that may attempt to spread ransomware or steal sensitive information. Functionality problems also exist with outdated software, as newer features included with current versions will not be available. Eventually you may find that the software no longer “plays nicely” with other programs, has intermittent performance issue, or stops functioning altogether. We have resolved many client complaints where “my program suddenly stopped working” by installing updates. The more users that are dependent on the software, the greater the impact.
When should I not upgrade my software?
There may be that one program that you have used for a long time that is no longer in production, and likely will not run on Windows 10 or newer versions of Microsoft Server. In this case, the only choice is to discontinue using the legacy software and move to a different program, or keep a dedicated machine in place with an older operating system (Windows 7, etc.) and accept the risks.
How do I make sure my software is current?
Most software can be updated by just installing updates when prompted, many programs do this automatically. Supported versions of Microsoft Windows are the most common version of this, it’s nearly impossible to prevent them! Software manufacturers eventually “sunset” versions of their software where they will no longer provide updates or support until a newer version of the software is purchased, or the program is discontinued altogether. At Systemadix, our seasoned consultants can keep your office running smoothly by ensuring up to date versions are in place with updates being applied, and recommend solutions to migrate away from software that is no longer supported.