40% of users ignore software patch prompts

A key part of any company’s security strategy should be a thorough software patch process. And a new survey offers some advice on keeping software secure and up to date: 

Don’t trust users to install a software patch themselves.

Many users fail to update software regularly, often because they don’t understand why a software patch is necessary, according to a recent survey conducted by Skype.

Close to half (40%) of consumers said they don’t always upgrade software when they’re prompted to do so.

Interestingly, security factors into people’s decisions to install a software patch, as well as their reasons for avoiding updates. When asked their reasons for installing updates, 76% said it was to keep their computer secure from viruses and hackers.

However, 45% also said they don’t install upgrades because they’re worried about the security of their computers.

Other top reasons for avoiding a software patch:

  • 27% said upgrades take too long
  • 26% don’t understand what the upgrade will do
  • 25% don’t see a benefit of installing a software patch
  • 20% said updates slow down their computer, and
  • 18% said new versions of software are buggy and crash too often.

In addition, even if people understand why updates are important, about a quarter of respondents said they don’t know how to check if their software is up to date.

The survey was released as part of International Technology Upgrade Week, an initiative launched by several tech vendors to convince users on the importance of keeping their software up to date.

But the results should also be troubling for any IT department that had been assuming users will install a software patch if they’re prompted to by the application. Patches are important, especially because many security attacks occur by exploiting old vulnerabilities that are still open because software was never updated.

If IT wants to make sure all software on users’ machines is secure, the department should perform updates themselves, or at least notify users and tell them to apply the patch and why it’s important.