The Norman Transcript


September 1, 2013

Update or get hacked — it’s your choice

NORMAN — I fix a lot of computers that have been filled with viruses with the owners often clueless as to how they got in trouble to begin with. A common thread I see running through most of these repairs is the failure of the owners to keep their computers updated.

Computers are not magic, nor are they static devices that never change. Constant change is necessary to a computer’s survival because, without change, it will surely be hacked. One of the immutable laws of the Internet is “update or get hacked.”

Understanding the updating process (aka “patching”) includes knowing what you should update and why you should update it.

This knowledge is fundamental to using a safe and secure computer on the Internet.

The “what” of updating is simple; you need to update your device’s Operating System (or “OS”), along with your devices programs and applications.

Operating systems are the master control programs that determine how a device functions and what it can do. Most of us use a diversity of operating systems every day without giving them much thought, but different devices use different operating systems.

If you use a desktop or laptop computer, then you are most likely using Microsoft Windows or Apple OS X. Linux is another computer operating system often used by educational and scientific institutions.

If you use an iPhone or iPad, then you use an operating system called iOS. Android phones and tablet computers, such as those made by Samsung, use the Android operating system, which is a custom version of Linux owned by Google.

Many big-screen TVs made by Samsung also use Linux.

In addition to your computer’s operating system, its programs need updating, too. Popular programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, iTunes, Safari, Firefox, Outlook and Internet Explorer all require frequent updating.

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