Part of secure computer life is living with patches. Patches are those annoying notices that you get from your OS about once a month that always want to reboot the computer on you after they install. If you let the patches install themselves every time you are prompted, then you are definitely doing your part to keep your computer secure. However, those operating system patches are not the only ones you need to be concerned about. There are patches for just about every piece of software on your computer. Many programs will automatically seek out these patches and notify you of when they are ready to be downloaded or installed, but many do not.
There are many cases where you might need to seek out patches by yourself and download and install them. Some applications do not possess an agent that runs on your system and checks for patches. Or, the updater agent may have been disabled on some or all programs that use one either by you, or by a corporate standard if your computer was imaged by an IT department. This might take place if there are a lot of different software suites installed on the computer and the cumulative effect of multiple agents running simultaneously could be crippling to system performance.
If you have programs that you know are provided updates by their manufacturer, then you would have to go to the web site of that company and seek out the patches, usually in the support area and under patches, updates, downloads or similar and related section of the site. These patches would then be downloaded locally to your computer, and then executed as you would any other program. If a compatible application is present, the patches will perform the update they were designed to provide and thus reduce the risk of the application being attacked by a worm or other similar hack.