Cyber security is the major hot topic issue when talking about technology. We hear in the news constantly about data breach after data breach and how another company was hacked. One major way we can protect ourselves and our businesses is by updating third party apps. Most people view these apps as the tools we use to do our everyday job, but they do not know how much of a security risk these apps can be.

You are probably thinking, what are third party apps? Third party apps are any applications that you get from a vender other than the manufacturer of the device you are using. Most of these apps require you to download them from an app store or a manufacture’s website. These are Apps like Outlook, Adobe, Chrome, and Firefox, but also can be a CAD or accounting application you purchased from another party. When installed, many of these apps are integrated with critical infrastructure of the operating system of your device or server. These apps make everything convenient when getting our work done, but if we are not careful, they can hurt us.

This is done by exploiting weakness in the app’s security. Just like how we have access to these apps, so do hackers. This gives them the ability to probe and find weakness in the applications and exploit those weaknesses from studying how these apps are implemented and installed on device as well as how they interact on the network. Hackers can then focus attacks on those weak points with the best knowledge of how to exploit them. 

To help avoid these apps from hurting us we have a simple fix. The obvious is updating the applications and trying to keep them on the latest version. Updating third party apps can be just as important as making sure your devices operating system is up to date. Many users think that running Windows update on your device will take care of all updates for your device and its apps. This is not true, often you must go into the app itself and have it look for updates. This is sometimes under a help tab in the application. Other times when you open the app a pop-up will appear telling you there is a new version or an update. These apps either will pull the update directly from the manufacture’s website or have a provided link to said website for you to download the update.  

For most end user and business, it is hard to keep track of all these apps and what needs update as well as have the manpower and resources available to monitor and take care of all the updates. For many without a in house IT department they turn to a managed services provider (MSP) like Plummer Slade to take care of and track this for them, among many other things. Having an MSP that make sure all your third-party apps are up to date as well as make sure the updates are safe is a big help to the end user and businesses, since it is one less thing they must manage.