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Defend your data: 5 online security don'ts

Don't ignore updates
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Don't ignore updates

You may not realize it, but keeping your software up-to-date isn't just a question of adding new features to your programs; it can also be a critical part of protecting yourself online.

"Cybercriminals can get in through holes in unpatched computers," says Marian Merritt, a Los Angeles-based author of "Family Online Safety Guide," written for Symantec, the makers of Norton AntiVirus.

But updating software doesn't just mean making sure you have the latest version of your chosen anti-virus program, Merritt says.

"You also have to keep your computer's operating system and the programs that run on your computer up-to-date," Merritt says. "Don't ignore prompts to update your operating system or applications with critical security fixes."

But when you do update, you need to be careful. If you use a Microsoft operating system, you can safely update through Windows or Microsoft Update, which is a program that comes preinstalled on your computer. Macs have a similar updating program that prompts users when it's time to make an update. For other software programs, experts say it's a good idea to update through the company's website to ensure safety.


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