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We’ve all seen them. In popups, warnings, and alerts – the call to update your software. Whether it’s Mac, Windows, or another program asking for updates, they can be annoying. Sometimes you even have to restart your computer for them to take effect, and who has time for that?

Nevertheless, they are incredibly important. Some updates speed up your computer or add new functionality. But the vast majority of updates are “under the hood,” as it were, and have to deal with security. Hackers, spies, and other nefarious individuals are always working to find ways to steal your things through your computer. Remember, neither computers nor people are perfect, and in programs as gigantic and complex as an operating system (like Windows or Mac OS X), there are bound to be thousands of bugs, glitches, and other failures that intelligent and unscrupulous people can use to gain access to your computer.

It’s also important to update your smaller programs, like Adobe Reader or your browser. That’s because these interact with the internet, which is the main way that people might use to gain access to your computer. Your browser, like Chrome or Firefox or Safari, directly talks to the internet, and thus is a constant target. PDF readers like Adobe Reader frequently open files directly downloaded from the internet, and so they are also constant targets.

In sum: Protect yourself. Download updates. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but it’s much less inconvenient than losing files, money, or your identity to internet thieves.

Further reading: If you’re interested in an example, take a look at this: http://www.zdnet.com/apple-releases-os-x-10-9-2-update-patches-severe-ssl-bug-7000026765/

Just a few weeks ago, someone discovered a vulnerability in Mac OS X and iOS (for iPhones and iPads) that exploited a problem with SSL, or the “Secure Socket Layer,” which is an integral component in encryption online. It has since been fixed.