Part 2 in the series The Secret Behind Updates
Greater security seems to be a promise that cannot be kept. We regularly find out on the news that large company websites have been hacked and confidential customer information has been stolen. For each website breech that becomes public knowledge, how many are kept secret? 10, 100, 1000? The real numbers are unknowable. Apparently the head of the FBI knows, because in 2014, he said that in the United States, there were two kinds of large companies: those that have been hacked, and those that do not know it yet.
Large companies and the iPhone can be hacked despite regular security updates created by armies of computer scientists. OS X users (Mac – Apple) are not better shielded from hacks than those who use Windows, as goes a popular myth. As their numbers grow, Mac owners, which are thought to be wealthier, become an increasingly attractive target for hackers. News of malware targeting Macs is now a common topic on the Internet. The reality is that no computer device is safe, even cars, as we have recently seen on the American news program 60 Minutes.
If updates truly increased security, we could logically conclude that large companies would update as soon as possible. Yet a large number of computers in those large companies around the world are still using Windows XP, despite it being 15 years old. Why? Because the costs attached to upgrading are too high. It’s cheaper for them to pay millions to Microsoft to “secure” these computers. So if it is possible to secure Windows XP in a bank machine and a power plant, why doesn’t Microsoft offer everyone else the same possibility? It’s an open secret that subsequent versions of Windows, Mac OS X, and every other operating system powering computerized devices, continue to be hacked.
Upgrading to Windows 10 often makes computers start up faster thanks to an original tactic by Microsoft resembling Hibernate, a little known option already available in every other Windows version. This “fast start up” as it’s known, excites many people. What is kept under wraps, however, is that W10 “speaks a new language” often misunderstood by computers manufactured during the time of Windows 7, so 4 years or more. This means that users who have upgraded from Windows 7 to 10 may discover that crucial peripherals like sound, video or laptop touch pad may not work anymore. And maybe even that expensive software that you need is not compatible with Windows 10. Those residential or small business users that feel they were the “lucky ones”, and were able to adopt W10 Home version without any problems have given up, perhaps without knowing it, the right to refuse any future updates which have been known to arrive with their own bugs. They have also agreed to provide a greater amount of information to Microsoft that may be confidential. Some countries are trying to ban Windows 10 in its current form.
Although very aggressive with its Windows 10 upgrade offer, Microsoft is no different than Apple or Google. How long have you been able to prevent your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet from updating? Only Windows 8.1 and older versions, and current versions of OS X for Apple computers give users the possibility to delay updates. The word “delay” is key, because after a certain time, one by one computer programs require us to update by pestering us with annoying alert messages or completely blocking their use altogether. And once certain programs are blocked, the whole operating system may then become obsolete making your expensive purchase much less useful as you can see with the image below.
Some experts paid by their industry argue otherwise, but the facts clearly show that updates do not give us the security we are expecting. However, updates get us to buy new computer items unnecessarily.
Is it possible to limit updates, to keep our equipment longer, while maintaining a good level of security? The answer is definitely yes! We’ll see how in the third and final part of this series.
Until next time,
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