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Column: Update your computer. Really.

About the image

I was looking for a stock image to go with this, and apparently if you want to depict a hacker, you have to go with “dude in hoodie at keyboard with random computer code on screen.” That’s pretty much your only choice.
By CHRIS MULDROW / Fredericksburg Today

I’m the alpha geek in my family. My mom asks for technical help, my brothers ask for technical help, my son doesn’t ask for technical help but grudgingly lets me fix his laptop when it’s not working the way he wants it to.

In fact, at one time I was the technical support for a rather big company. That particular company had lots of locations, and when I’d go to visit, I’d find computers with operating systems that hadn’t been updated in a long time. A really long time.

Pre-World Wide Web, this wasn’t a big deal. You didn’t update, you missed out on new features or maybe a nagging bug just never went away.

But as we’re seeing today, the consequences of not running updates can have worldwide security and safety concerns. A ransomware attack is hitting computers across the globe today, and organizations like FedEx, the Russian Interior Ministry and the British National Health Service have been heavily affected.

The attack had been seen in 74 countries as of the time I’m writing this, but it will continue to spread. And as it spreads, our systems will crawl, money will be stolen, people’s lives may even be at risk.

For big organizations, it can be costly to keep systems up to date as security patches come out. But a cyberattack like the one we’re seeing can be far more costly.

So if you run a business that relies on technology (and most of them do today), you need a plan to put updates in place. And if your computer’s been nagging you to update, it’s time to listen to the nagging.

Chris Muldrow is publisher of Fredericksburg Today. No, he will not fix your computer.

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