Tip 3: Always accept automatic updates

On Boxing Day here in the UK (26th December for anyone who doesn’t celebrate it) the NCSC (that’s the National Cyber Security Centre) blogged about staying smart with your Christmas gadgets.  This included 5 tips which are always true for gadgets and our tech-filled lives, so I thought I’d go through them.

Always accept automatic updates

Or as Yoda once said…

Automatic updates, you must accept

Ok, so probably not, but everyone loves a fake Yoda quote, right?

Unfortunately, Windows has made “automatic updates” a bit of a dirty phrase, by pushing updates that always seem to come at the worst possible time, take ages, break things, and generally cause a big hassle.  With Windows 10 though, they do seem to have finally managed to reduce the hassle, somewhat.

However, it’s time to put all that aside and embrace the wonderful world of automatic updates.  At the end of the day, there is a risk of something breaking.  But the risk of getting hacked because you’ve not updated is usually far greater than the risk of anything breaking because you have updated, and rolling back an update is usually far less hassle than trying to get your system back after it’s been hacked.

This is true of everything, Windows is the obvious example.  But I build and maintain a lot of WordPress websites, and it’s alarming how often I see the WordPress automatic updates disabled.  This is done with a simple setting…

define( 'AUTOMATIC_UPDATER_DISABLED', true );
define( 'WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', false );

If you have a WordPress website, go into “wp-config.php” and check this – make sure it’s enabled!  The first of the above options should be “false” (not disabled) and the second one should be “true” (enabled).

As soon as WordPress vulnerabilities are found, in plugins, themes or the core of WordPress itself, hackers immediately start scanning the internet to find sites that are still vulnerable.  The sooner you update, the less likely you are to allow a hacker in, so unless you never go to sleep, automatic updates are your friend, your best friend!

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