As Worries Grow Around Russian Cyberattacks, Update Your Operating Systems

The easiest way to improve your security is to make sure your OS and other apps are updated.

Zachary McAuliffe Staff writer
Zach began writing for CNET in November, 2021 after writing for a broadcast news station in his hometown, Cincinnati, for five years. You can usually find him reading and drinking coffee or watching a TV series with his wife and their dog.
Expertise Web hosting, operating systems, applications and software Credentials
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Zachary McAuliffe
3 min read

Cybercriminals will look for exploits in out-of-date software. Updates close those doors to them.

Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

As Russia continues to attack Ukraine, cybersecurity has been a concern for many. The Russian ransomware group Conti has warned nations of interfering with the invasion, and US officials blamed Russia for cyberattacks against Ukrainian websites in February.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said while there are no specific cyber threats to the US at this time, cyberattacks can affect large and small enterprises alike, as well as home offices. One way CISA said people and businesses can protect themselves and others is by updating all devices and systems as soon as possible. 

"Update the operating system on your mobile phones, tablets and laptops," CISA wrote. "And update your applications -- especially the web browsers -- on all your devices too."

Updates often patch potential security vulnerabilities, and putting off these updates could leave you and your device open to these flaws and the malicious actors out to exploit them. CISA also advised turning on automatic updates on all your devices. 

Application updates can be relatively painless, especially since most manufacturers allow apps to auto-update in the background. Some people might want to wait to update their systems in case the update causes some headaches. But waiting too long to update can leave your systems vulnerable to cyber attacks. 

Before you update your system, it's always a good idea to backup your data in case something goes wrong. Getting rid of bugs and patching security vulnerabilities is the goal of many updates, but sometimes things don't work out, so having a backup just in case ensures your data doesn't get lost.

How to update your device

Device updates can be time consuming, but regularly updating your system can cut back on installation times. Here are some tips to update Android, iOS, MacOS and Windows devices.


1. Make sure your Android device is connected to Wi-Fi and open Settings.

2. Tap About Phone.

3. Tap Check now for update. If an update is available, an Update button will appear. Tap Update if you see the button.

4. From here, depending on what OS you have, you will see options to Install Now, Reboot and install or a similar variation. Tap the option that applies to you, and your Android will start the update.


1. Connect your iOS device to Wi-Fi and plug it into a power supply.

2. Tap Settings.

3. Tap General.

4. Tap Software Updates.

5. If an update is available, tap Download and Install. If your device is up-to-date, your device will read "iOS is up to date."


1. Connect your Mac to Wi-Fi and plug it into a power supply.

2. Click the Apple logo in the top left corner and click System Preferences.

3. Click Software Update.

4. If an update is available, click Update Now or Upgrade Now, depending on which MacOS you have.


1. Connect your Windows device to Wi-Fi and click Start.

2. Click Settings.

3. Click Windows Update.

4. Click Check for updates.

5. If an update is available, you will be given the option to install it.

For more on how to secure your data, read what digital security experts wish you knew about data privacy, browser settings to change now to help protect your privacy and CNET's list of best antivirus software.

Watch this: Ukraine Invasion: Where to Find Accurate Information Online in Real Time