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We secure our valuables – our wallets, keys, and homes. We know that, if left unsecured, they can easily be a target for criminals. So it makes sense to think the same way about the information stored on all our devices.

Computers, tablets, phones and other personal devices hold your emails and your financial and tax documents (with your Social Security numbers). Criminals who get access to this valuable information can commit identity theft, put harmful software on your devices, or both.

What’s one easy way to help protect all of this sensitive information? Update your software regularly, and as soon as possible when a newer version comes out. What’s an even easier way? Set the updates to happen automatically. Don’t ignore reminders to update. Criminals look to exploit vulnerabilities before the software companies can fix it. Delaying gives hackers time to access your information – even when a patch is out there to lock them out.

So what software should you be updating?

  1. Security software. Whether you use antivirus or firewall programs that were pre-installed on your device or that you bought on your own, make sure they’re up to date.
  2. Operating system software. Your operating system could be Windows, Apple OS, etc. If you’re not sure how to update your operating system, go to the website of your device manufacturer for help.
  3. Internet browsers and apps. Both are access points for criminals to enter your devices, so it’s important to keep them secure.

Looking for more tips on how to stay safe online? Check out FTC.gov/OnGuardOnline.

19 Comments

Julianne E
June 13, 2019
Thank you for these helpful articles. I was not aware that software updates were improving security. Please write more articles for consumers. Thank you.
letroy456
June 13, 2019
Thank you
Man in the Mirror
June 13, 2019
This is excellent advice and much appreciated however it becomes useless if the source ,FTC, is itself vulnerable to hackers or viruses as some large U.S. companies have fell victim to.
JasonS
June 13, 2019
This is great advice.
Reno Nevada
June 13, 2019
Thank you again for this excellent information. I am getting calls now as well as e-mails that I do not talk to or delete. It keeps me so well informed. Keep up the great work as we all need your help.
Don't use your…
June 14, 2019
Good
Labtech
June 14, 2019
I cannot believe, after all your articles about internet security, that you would send an email with a link to “Update Your Software Now” ! Of course I thought it was someone impersonating the FTC and the link would be malware or ransomeware. It took me awhile to find the article on your website to discover the email actually was from the FTC.
disappointed w…
June 14, 2019
I don't consistently update my browser because some of the updates make the browser work badly. My operating system is set for automatic updates as is my security software. Not that doing any of that has prevented someone or somethings from using/stealing information from my professional website to set up a fake website, using my name, profession and other information from my site. FTC offers ZERO assistance, a form gets filled out and the counselor who 'assists' admits easily that the FTC takes no action, it uses the complaints as a way of seeing patterns in the types of internet fraud. Thanks alot, FTC! I've contacted the webhost, the pass through proxy server, but the site's not been taken down. Thanks FTC for not helping me get that site taken down.
FTC Staff
June 17, 2019

In reply to by disappointed w…

The FTC takes action against internet fraud, and provides consumer education, but does not have the resources to help people resolve individual complaints.

When you told the FTC that someone used information from your website to set up a fake website, the information was added to a secure law enforcement database that the FTC and other state and federal law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

The FTC offers has information about cybersecurity for small businesses  that may help you.

Cindbee
June 14, 2019
I have been getting calls from Social Security stating that there has been fraudulent activity regarding my Social Security card and I need to contact the office immediatly.(sp?)
Caroline
June 19, 2019

In reply to by Cindbee

Cindibee, Social Security does NOT call people!!! They communicate by letter. The calls you are getting are scam/phishing calls, do NOT call those numbers back or, if they reach you in person, reveal any personal information! Contact the real Social Security office and either wait to talk with an agent (it's a long wait) or make an appointment to go in and make sure everything is ok.
Garush
June 16, 2019
Article needs to be expanded. Would add to the article. Consider not putting vital info in your electronic devices. Would also want to know what types of personal info are used for ID theft. You also want to know when anyone (including yourself) goes into your medical, bank, insurance co or other info. Also be advised whenever a financial institution or company you use has a breech.
Surprised [by-…
August 20, 2019

In reply to by Garush

Your proposed concern is "spot on" as the British say! Without any loss of data (except the [foolish] confirmation that the phishing person had used a corect email address and name of a bank as well as of a relative involved in acions of executing the will), I replied to an email claiming to come from an annuity. Taking care to visit the real Website itself and not clicking on the link in email, I learned to fear giving any more data via email. Yet, I foolishly replied because of medication's side-effects making me too trusting. I even called self MCI [not explaining that it was temporary]. I probably revealed the area where I live as abroad. This should not have happened!! Like the Soc. Sec. Ad., such banks do not send out messages to possible heirs!! One has to contact them.
Don't use your…
February 13, 2020
Also I-noticed either misspelled words or their missed use in a sentence.
REGINA ANN REALI
August 19, 2020
Thanks. I always think fbi.gov
Lilkim2
September 27, 2020
I am Constantly getting emails saying that my pay pal account is frozen, Amazon's saying is a problem with my account, and emails saying that I need to update my payment information. It is very tempting to check it out! What I'm supposed to do to stop it??? Thank you for all your wonderful advice!
AnnEtta
December 31, 2020
Keep me posted
Emily Messina
April 14, 2021
I have a copy of the email that was sent pretending to be Amazon. I would like to be able to share this with you.
I didnt do nothing
June 09, 2021
I had person ask me over and over i said no i love my paypal serivce..i dont give out my information than hack my account i dont no nothing about it