Recent cyber attacks highlight the importance of keeping your operating system up to date. Discover how security updates work and how to check for updates on Windows 7, 8.1 and 10.

The global ransomware attack involving 150 countries around the world has highlighted the importance of keeping Windows up to date.

Dubbed Wanna Decryptor, the ransomware exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows, affecting versions from Windows XP up to Windows 7.

Microsoft was aware of the issue and released a security update in March to protect users. Customers who didn’t update their machines were vulnerable to attack, and many corporate customers fell victim to Wanna Decryptor.

The incident has highlighted the importance of keeping your software up to date by installing security updates.

What is a security update and why do I need to update my machine?

When Microsoft releases an operating system like Windows 10 its job isn’t finished.  In today’s world, cyber attacks are increasingly common and perpetrated using sophisticated and ever-changing code. Microsoft has security teams dedicated to keeping its home and business customers safe from malicious attacks.

Microsoft releases regular software updates via Windows Update. These updates perform a number of functions, they can add new features and design changes, but they can provide security fixes

On the second Tuesday of each month (nicknamed Patch Tuesday), Microsoft releases a security update to protect customers against the most recent threats.

If you don’t update your machine, then it could be vulnerable to future cyber attacks.

Microsoft gives you the option to install updates automatically, which means you don’t have to worry about searching for them online and installing them manually.

What versions of Windows get security updates?

Microsoft provides concurrent mainstream support and extended support periods for its operating systems after their release.

During the five-year mainstream support period, the OS will get regular updates including security improvements and design features. Once this is over the operating system heads into the extended support period, which means it doesn’t get new features but will get security updates and fixes.

How can I keep my computer safe?

Windows 10 machines include the new Windows Defender Security Center, which includes built-in protection against virus and threats.