What Is Patch Management
As we’ve shared in past blog posts, there are several critical security measures to monitor in order to maintain a secure business network for your organization. One of the items you’ll want to keep at the top of your cyber security to-do list is software updates. Included in the category of software updates are patches that need to be constantly monitored in order to keep a network highly secure. The management of these patches is known as Patch Management.
Patch Management aims at updating, testing, fixing or improving software programs. The process of creating strategies to deploy patches in a systematic manner is also another way to describe patch management. Applied patches may be used to fix security vulnerabilities, security gaps and performance bottlenecks. Having a patch management plan in place will help to ensure efficient updates are happening properly. These updates are a key component for establishing a secure business IT support plan.
How Patch Management Works
A typical OS such as windows contains millions of lines of code, so it is impossible to ship without bugs. OS and software vendors release patches as when needed in response to a discovered vulnerability or program bugs.
Patch management tries to answer three questions:
- What should be patched?
- How regular patching should be applied.
- How to maintain system functionality after patching.
Functions of Patch Management
Patch management aims to solve three principal problems, which are:
- Protecting your business from cyber attacks.
- Improve software performance.
- Solve compatibility issues with existing software.
The Importance of Patch Management
Patch management can help keep your business safe. Because it deals with vulnerabilities that can bring down your system, it is a mandatory part of proactive security management. Businesses that do not apply patches are at a greater risk of being the target of a data breach.
The decisions to patch a system can be complicated due to the possibility of breaking existing applications. Even with this, patch management cannot be ignored. Research has shown that around 80% of cyber attacks involves software loopholes that have existing patches. If you don’t patch your system on time, you will make your business an attractive and easy target for cybercriminals.
Patch management allows you to test applications on newly patched OS before deploying them system-wide. This is to reduce the risk of a breakdown in critical business applications due to potential software glitches that may come with the patch.
Any type of delay for deploying security patches will leave your computer system open to cyber attacks. Hence patch management is about managing the risk of not deploying a patch and the risk of business disruption.
Patch Management and Cybersecurity
Ever since cybercriminals with little skills can launch attacks, cyber incidents have increased exponentially. Publicly available tools have made the works of hackers easier. Merely applying patches on random occasions is therefore not enough.
There are patch management techniques that can help keep your data safe and improve your network security. They are discussed below:
- Deploy proper discovery service: The first step to securing your system is to know the devices and services that exist on the network. The right discovery service automatically detects services on your network. The service should have both active and passive discovery capabilities. A discovery service helps keep your patch management up to date and ensures that no device endpoint is lagging behind in patch updates.
- Apply patch to all applications: Many of the programs on a business computer are third-party software. They do not benefit from the auto-update that are available for many OS by default. Because of this, attackers can take advantage of unpatched vulnerabilities in third-party software to hijack your computer. Thus, it is necessary to treat every software program on your computer as important and keep their patches up to date.
- Offer support for many OS: Modern work environment includes the use of computers with different operating systems including Windows, Mac and Linux. Your patch management must take this into consideration and support their integration and passion to automate patch.
- Set special preferences for fragile applications: You need to factor in the potential of a system breakdown when patching your applications. Some patches are known to break the functionality of an OS or software. If you have such programs, you can leave them unpatched. Not patching an application may open your system to common vulnerabilities, you need to set up the software in a way that will reduce the risk of attacks. You can do this by downgrading permissions and whitelisting network access for the software involved.
Patch management should be an important part of your business network security. If you ignore patches, you will make your business vulnerable to attacks. These attacks can be very costly to your organization. If your organization finds that they do not have the manpower to support a patch management plan, please contact SDTEK as we can manage such patches and make sure your most critical software is secure and staying up to date.