Windows Updates–The Why, How and Are They Safe?

microsoft

It’s something that you just accept as a PC owner (of the Windows variety).

Every now and then your computer will begin to download Windows updates.

But why does that happen? How does it happen? And is it safe for your computer to be downloading stuff under its own steam like that?

Well this post is going to lead you through those questions to put your mind at rest.

Why updates happen

In an ideal world, software would be created to the offer the optimum package of services you’ll ever need. But it’s not an ideal world and things change.

New ideas are created, glitches happen, hackers come up with new ways to violate your computer etc. All of these incidences mean your software has to be regularly updated to make sure it runs smoothly and offers you the best possible protection.

How they happen

Your PC will already be preloaded with software and it’s this that initialises a connection with the internet to check for and download updates.

Even though you’ll have firewalls and security packages on your PC the connection won’t be blocked because it’s the software you already have that’s making the connection. Your Firewall is there to keep intruders out and not there to prevent you (or your software) from downloading the updates your systems needs to work properly.

Are they safe?

The thought of your PC doing this for you may leave you feeling a bit nervous.

What if one of the updates isn’t real and is really from a malicious third party who has hacked into your update service?

First off, updates only come from particular internet addresses (e.g. http://update.microsoft.com). As this is under Microsoft’s control you can be pretty sure their security is as tight as…well, the tightest thing you can imagine, so the chances of anyone getting in there are extremely unlikely.

For arguments sake, say a hacker managed to get their own software into an official update channel, what then? Well, your PC will only accept data if it’s signed with a valid cryptographic key – and making a fake code is impossible.

So, if your PC starts to download a Windows Update don’t worry.

There are bad guys out there

Even though Windows updates are OK, there are still a lot of bad guys out there.

One of the most popular ways to try and infect your PC is through phishing email scams. Your security software should protect you from  these but it pays to remain vigilant at all times. If you don’t recognise the email sender, never open the attachment and delete the email straight away.

Common sense with a healthy dose of scepticism will help you stay safe on and off line. But if you do experience any problems get in touch with your local IT support company immediately.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.