Week 3: Software Safety

Achille's Heel - Software Safety

Achilles was a Greek warrior hero in the Trojan War. When he was an infant, Achilles’ mother dipped him into the River Styx so that he may become immortal. Every part of his body was fully covered with the magical waters except for his left heel, by which he was held. This unprotected heel was Achilles’ only vulnerable spot. In that regard, unpatched or misconfigured software is your device’s vulnerability, which can be exploited to cause harm to your data or device.

Most software vendors routinely release patches and security updates to protect from newly-discovered vulnerabilities. It’s important that you prioritize installing these updates to protect your system. Additionally, unused and outdated software should be uninstalled from your device to reduce the risk of compromise. Finally, you should only obtain and install software from trusted sources. Bad actors often release free versions of popular software that contains malware that can be used to steal your data, harm your computer, or even take it over completely!

Tips to protect your device from exploitable vulnerabilities:

  1. Avoid opening unsolicited email attachments.
  2. Only install authorized legal software and use it for legitimate reasons.
  3. Abstain from using unauthorized, partially complete “beta” software.
  4. Uninstall software that you have no intention of using, or at least install their security updates regularly.
  5. Report any suspicious software to security@uic.edu immediately.

Software vulnerabilities can be considered the Achilles heel of our modern-day devices. Keep your software updated and secure and don’t let it become your Achilles’ heel!