Friday, December 2, 2022

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    Avoiding 'threat actors': the importance of keeping your software up to date

    Cyber security isn’t straightforward, but in that area one thing is simple: keeping software updated to minimize risks. Jan Lucki, head of development at digital agency Rawnet, investigates why updates are worth your while.

    The internet is full of wonders, but it has a dark side that we don’t talk about often enough. Information has value, and threat actors are hiding around every corner. To celebrate 10 years of Cybersecurity Month, we’re diving into the importance of protecting your customers and encouraging businesses to keep their software up to date.

    A threat actor is an individual or group that prowls the web, usually using bots (scripts that automate certain tasks), in search of vulnerable targets. Their motives can range from data theft to spreading viruses or malware; or simply disrupting services, causing chaos.

    The statistics

    Data breaches are unfortunately a common occurrence. Recently a leading telecommunications brand has been a victim of a cyber-attack, resulting in a data breach for over 40% of its customers.

    In July 2020, a research team estimated that more than 15bn exposed credentials from over 100,000 data breaches were in circulation on the dark web. Another report estimated that websites are attacked on average 62 times per day, by a fleet of more than 330 bots. These numbers have probably risen significantly since then.

    Sounds scary, but by knowing what we’re up against we can better protect ourselves. Security is a wide-ranging and ever-evolving topic that we can’t cover in a single article, but we can start with the basics: keeping software up to date.

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    What are the benefits of updating?

    Websites are built from many moving parts, not unlike an orchestra coming together to perform a symphony.

    On top of the bespoke code that we developers build for you to match business needs, your website might be running on a server with its own operating system and software (unless you’re taking advantage of serverless infrastructure), and it will be running language interpreters, frameworks, libraries, and other dependencies.

    All this software is regularly maintained. By keeping up with the latest versions, by performing timely updates, we take advantage of the latest software developments. This includes bug fixes, better stability, improved performance, new features, and (critically) the latest security updates that have been added since the software was first installed.

    With this, we can close the door to any known vulnerabilities that threat actors might exploit.

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    What does this all mean for you?

    We are security conscious at Rawnet. We know the statistics, and we have first-hand experience dealing with the darker side of the web. Our developers keep on top of the latest security developments, leverage the latest technology, and always look to stay one step ahead of threat actors.

    A lot goes into keeping your website and data secure, but it’s vital not to forget the basics. With the many moving parts coming together to bring a modern website to life, and the threats that exist on the web, it’s more important than ever to keep your software up to date.

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