Keep Your Device’s Operating System and Applications Up to Date

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Topic 1.1
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The Bottom Line

Threat actors can exploit vulnerabilities in your device’s operating system (OS) and applications (apps) to conduct a variety of malicious activities if you don’t regularly install updates.

The Problem

We rely on our device’s OS and apps for everything from checking the weather and streaming music to monitoring email and identifying the fastest route to the doctor’s office.

Sometimes, threat actors find vulnerabilities in these operating systems and apps, which they exploit for malicious purposes such as spreading malware or exfiltrating data.

Developers of operating systems and apps are constantly creating patches to fix known vulnerabilities. These patches become available through OS and app updates.

If you don’t install these updates, you leave yourself exposed to these vulnerabilities.

Despite the temptation to delay them, it is vital you install software updates regularly for enhanced functionality and security.

The Solution

Routinely update the OS and apps on all your devices.

  • Enable automatic updates for your OS and apps when available.
  • For operating systems and apps without automatic updates, designate a time in your schedule to manually check for and install updates.
  • Ensure that you install your updates from official sources, such as your device’s standard OS update feature or a trusted app store. Exercise caution if you are prompted to install an update through a browser pop-up or email, as these may be phishing attempts.

Below are guides from popular developers that will show you how to manually and/or automatically update your OS and apps:

Windows OS




If a developer no longer issues security updates for your OS or app, consider finding a replacement.

  • If your OS is no longer supported, you should upgrade to the newest available version (e.g., upgrading from Windows 7 to 11).
  • For applications, you should find a comparable product that provides routine security updates.



  • Enable automatic updates, If available.
  • For operating systems and apps without automatic updates, designate a time each week to manually check for and install updates.
  • Upgrade to the newest available OS if yours is no longer supported.
  • Find replacements for apps if the developer does not provide regular security updates.

Do Not

  • Continue using an OS or app if the developer no longer issues security updates.


Project Upskill is a product of the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative 


  • Module 1: Basic Cybersecurity for Personal Computers and Mobile Devices
    • Topic 1.0: Implement User Account Control to Protect Your Personal Computer