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  1. Why are some updates called Important security updates?

  2. How are they different from other updates?

  3. Is my system insecure, If I don't install them?

  4. How can there be very frequent security updates?

  5. Does it mean my Ubuntu is very unstable or insecure?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

What is a security update? How are they different from other updates?

Usually they are security-related bugs rather than new features or bug fixes. For example, it might fix a buffer overflow a developer found.

If I don't install them, is my system insecure?

Not necessarily, but there are exploits. If someone could manage to exploit them (which might not even be possible unless they have another exploit), it isn't totally compromised. However, you should assume that it is insecure, because if theres a slight chance that it is, for all purposes it is.

How can there be very frequent security updates? Does it mean my ubuntu is very unstable or insecure?

This comes into the differences between Linux and closed-source operating systems.

In Linux, security flaws are found much easier when they exist due to the code being open. Then the patch is immediately put upstream and onto your computer through the package update.

Whereas in a closed source system, often such flaws aren't found until exploitation. Its just a matter of when the security flaw is found, not the existence itself.

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Mind explaining the downvote when the the guy who said pretty much the same thing that I did (after I wrote my answer, mind you) was upvoted? – mathepic Feb 21 '11 at 18:10
Same thing? You were explaining how Linux is more secure than Windows, while Pedram answered the question and explained what the security updates were. – Oxwivi Feb 21 '11 at 18:25
@Toki - Read the question - "Does it mean my ubuntu is very unstable or insecure?" I tried to answer that as well as include information on the other stuff in the question (which is the only thing he said). Secondly I didn't even explain why its better, I just explained the difference! In fact, I only used Windows as an example - the differences were between open and closed source. – mathepic Feb 21 '11 at 18:30
Oops, my bad. However, the what the questioner asks is what is security updates, and if the constant security updates mean that his system is insecure. The downvoter probably disregarded the rest of the question and noted the absence of the answer to the primary issue that questioner addresses. I think you should edit it and write something in the lies of 'Ubuntu is more secure because...' and not directly compare it with Windows or something because it will sound like trolling. I'll upvote you for now. – Oxwivi Feb 21 '11 at 18:40
@Toki Tahmid - Okay, hopefully my answer is more clear now. – mathepic Feb 21 '11 at 18:45

As the name says, security updates are important updates which will improve your security.

Some updates are only new versions of your applications with new features and some of them are bug fixes. Critical security bug fixes are included in "Important securty updates" in the update manager.

If you want your system to be secure you must install security updates as soon as possible. Without these updates, attackers may use vulnerabilities in your software to attack your system.

Also, it's a good idea to make Ubuntu check for updates daily and install security updates without confirmation:

Screenshot of Updates settings, with recommended options shown and highlighted

Image source: Setup Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat to Install Security Updates Automatically

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