When you’re in the middle of an email, or working on something and in the zone, it’s tempting to ignore that little notification in the corner telling you to it’s time to update your computer. No big deal, you think. I’ll get to it later.
Unfortunately, this very thought sees thousands of people fall victim to hacking and malware attacks every year. The few minutes they save by clicking ‘later’ eventually turns into days or weeks spent trying to clean up the damage. For an unlucky few, the fallout is irreparable.
The same risks apply to the software that powers your website. So how failing to make software updates bring your website - and your business - crashing down?
When a new version of any popular software is released, hackers waste no time discovering and exploiting security holes. It’s not feasible to release a new version every time a weakness is discovered, so the software developer will release security patches instead. These allow you to ‘patch up’ the holes and keep protected from known threats until the next version.
So the next version comes around, and all of those security holes come patched up as standard. However, they also come detailed in the software’s change logs and update notes. If you’re still using the previous version, that means that hackers now have a detailed list of ways to exploit your out-of-date, unprotected software.
A bug is an error or fault in the software that causes it to malfunction or behave differently. Many bugs are corrected during the development phase. However, others don’t become apparent until after the release when the developer starts to get feedback from users.
Much like patches to fix security holes, updates are released to fix bugs as they’re discovered. If you don’t update your software, this is likely to affect its efficiency. It could be minor, like the occasional loading delay, or it could bring your whole website grinding to a halt.
There are also major security implications to leaving bugs unchecked. In some cases, it can leave your systems wide open to hackers. If your business holds confidential customer data, or you deal with sensitive information like medical, financial or government records, this can land you in serious legal trouble.
Updating your software is not just a security issue. Developers are always improving functionality and adding new features. At best, you could be missing out on a number of ways to improve the experience of updating your websit. At worst, you might find that your website becomes incompatible with updated browsers and plug-ins. This can render your website unusable and send your frustrated visitors elsewhere.
So you’ve decided to upgrade after some time, but what if you’ve left it too late? Developers build pathways between one version to the next to make upgrading as simple as possible. However, after a while, they phase out the older versions. If you’re too far behind the latest version, you might have an expensive and frustrating time trying to update your software, which may even result in a complete rebuild. For that reason, it’s best to stay no more than one version behind the current one if you can help it.
We mentioned the legal implications of security issues. What about the damage to your reputation? If you fail to update your website and your customers’ private data is exposed to hackers as a result, it’s highly likely you’ll lose their trust and their business.
Even if you manage to save face with your customers, Google may not be quite so forgiving. When another popular website platform, WordPress, fell victim to a malware infection in 2014, over 11,000 infected domains were instantly blacklisted from the site. Google is by far the biggest search engine, and if your customers can’t find you online, that could be devastating to your business.
So how do you protect your website?
If you’re a Bee Online customer, you’re already protected! As part of your website care plan, we update your Silverstripe content management system at least once a month to keep you up to date with the latest security patches, bug fixes and functionality. You don’t have to lift a finger to know that you’re protected 24/7.
Not a Bee Online customer? Talk to us today about protecting your CMS software, and you can enjoy the same peace of mind as our monthly website care plan customers.