Are you aware that hackers have figured out how to remotely log into some routers and, in turn, into the networks of individuals and businesses? Horrendous!

Is there a defense? Yes, many exploits can be eliminated with a firmware update.

Are you familiar with firmware? Likely you are quite familiar with many aspects of hardware (the physical computer, tablet, smart phone, printer, etc.) and software (the operating system like Windows or Mac, the drivers, and the applications such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Reader).

Perhaps you are not as familiar with firmware. Firmware is the computer code within various electronic devices which allow the devices to function as designed. Computers and many pieces of computer equipment have firmware –equipment such as printers, routers, storage devices, switches, firewalls, etc. Firmware can, and in many cases should be, updated. Does any of your equipment need firmware updates? Very likely! Further, neglecting available firmware updates can be detrimental to the optimal functioning of your computer and related equipment.

How so? Issues which prove problematic may come to light after computer equipment is manufactured. A manufacturer could simply treat the equipment as out of date (or defective), but of course this tactic would not be cost effective. Instead, as long as the equipment is still supported, manufacturers issue firmware updates which remedy trouble spots. (If your device has reached end of life status, the manufacturer will no longer provide updates. We do not recommend using equipment which is no longer supported.)

Typical reasons for firmware updates:

  1. Security – If a manufacturer finds that exploits are a possible threat to the hardware it produces, the manufacturer will normally issue a firmware update.
  2. Reliability – Sometimes errors are made in the initial programming of equipment. These errors may only be evident in certain situations, but they can be a real nuisance to the user. In such cases, firmware updates are often provided by the manufacturer of the equipment in order to correct such errors.
  3. Compatibility – A piece of equipment, when first manufactured, may not have been designed to interface with another particular piece of equipment. If feasible, helpful manufacturers will update their firmware to provide needed compatibility.

Caution is necessary, however. Firmware updates, like all updates, can produce unintended consequences. Larger companies, will off-set this risk by setting up a separate test environment to assess the effects of a firmware update on equipment utilized in the company production environment. Once the update is applied to devices in the test environment with successful outcomes, the firmware update is applied to the production environment. If you do not have the benefit of a separate test environment, careful consideration must be given to mitigate potential risk.

Interested in improving and protecting your business? Contact us – we’re here to help with firmware, software, or any of your technology needs.

 

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