Patching is a way of keeping software up to date and safe. If you have a computer, you have software. Software can have flaws that open holes, (vulnerabilities or flaws), allowing bad things to happen to your PC.

The good news is that you can prevent issues by keeping your system up to date. Microsoft, Apple, and other software makers release software updates from time to time to correct security issues, improve performance, or add new features. You should install these updates as soon as they are available.

Tip: Microsoft releases new patches on the second Tuesday of the month. Set a reminder to apply these patches as soon as they are released.

Not only does your computer's operating system need patching, but all the other software programs you may have installed may need this attention as well. Pay special attention to software "plugins" like Adobe Flash Player, Java, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and media players.

Patches should only be obtained from the makers of the original software. Sometimes, scammers may send emails that pretend to be notices of patches. These will likely lead to serious security problems.

To learn more about patching, see the Federal Trade Commission's website Onguardonline.

Mobile - download apps