Cyber attacks are getting increasingly widespread and dangerous by the day, which is why several new ways of ensuring cybersecurity have been coming up, one of them being Patching. In this write-up, we shall have a detailed look at this advanced concept of patch management, its functioning, importance, benefits, and much more. Let’s get started!
What is Patching?
Patch management is the process that involves the distribution and application of updates to the software. It is a process that assists in acquiring, testing, and installation of various patches (code changes) on the prevailing applications and software tools in a computer, which enables the systems to be updated on the current patches and determines which patches are the suitable ones. In this way, it becomes remarkably straightforward to manage patches. Such patches are usually required for the correction of errors in the software.
Generally, the areas that demand patches comprise the operating system, applications, as well as the set systems such as network equipment. In case a defenseless condition is detected after releasing a piece of software, it can be fixed using a patch. Such a process supports the system, ensuring that the various assets are not easily suspected to be exploited.
What is Patch Management?
Any software company usually does patch Management as part of their internal effort of fixing issues with the varied versions of software programs. Besides, it proves helpful in analyzing the existing software programs and detecting any possible lack of safety traits or other upgrades. In this way, software patches help correct the existing problems and are observed only after the initial release of the software. Patches generally concern security, while certain patches concern the precise functionalities of the programs as well.
From detecting the absent patches to the procedure of developing patches to the endpoints, one may automate the complete process of patch management by using the patch management tools. A centralized patch management server streamlines the whole process. Centralized patch management allows deploying third-party software patches and Microsoft software patches, while all of them are controlled from a central point.
The following steps are included in the process of patch management:
-Development of an up-to-date inventory for each production system:
Whether it is done after every month or every few months, it is, by far, the only way of truly monitoring which assets exist in the system. By diligently managing assets, one can have an informed judgment regarding the operating systems, the type of version, and all the IP addresses existing, coupled with their geographic location and organizational keepers. As a common rule, the more often one maintains their asset inventory, the more informed and up-to-date they are going to be.
-Devising a plan to standardize the systems and operating systems to a common type of version:
Even though it is a little challenging to execute, standardizing the asset inventory ensures that the patching process is much quicker and more efficiently performed. One should standardize their assets down to a number that can be easily managed so that one can hasten the remediation process when new patches are released. It will further help save time for the owner as well as the technical team.
-Compose a list of every security control that is in place within the organization:
Keeping track of the prevailing firewalls, antivirus, and vulnerability management tools is something that one should always consider. One must have a clear idea about where they are kept, what they are guarding, and which assets are linked to them.
-Comparing the reported vulnerabilities with the inventory:
Utilizing the vulnerability management tool in assessing which vulnerabilities endure for which asset in the system will help understand the organization’s possible security risks.
-Classification of the risk:
With the help of vulnerability management tools, one may effortlessly manage the assets that need to be considered critical for the organization. Therefore, prioritization of the needs is a must, which will be remediated accordingly.
Implement the patches to some asset samples in the lab environment. Test the machine to confirm that the patches do not cause any problems in the production environment.
-Apply the patches:
After prioritizing what has to be remediated, begin patching to practically lower the risks within the environment. As mentioned previously, the highly advanced vulnerability management tool offers the facility of automating the time-consuming elements of the entire patching process. You may want to roll the patches in batches of assets, even though you have tested in the lab environment so that there are no chances of a widespread issue.
-Trace the progress:
Make sure that the assets are reassessed from time to time to ensure that the patching process was completed successfully.
Why is Patching so important?
With every passing day, a rapid increase is observed in the number of ransomware attacks. So, for an organization that uses a collection of servers and computers, staying updated with all the takes up a great deal of time, and it is super challenging. Attempting to manage all the patches is not just tiring, but it is also a significant risk to the organization. Therefore, patching management has become extremely important these days.
Here are some key points that will help you understand the importance of patching management:
Patch management has the ability to fix vulnerabilities on the software and the variety of applications that may be suspected of cyber-attacks. This helps the organization in reducing security risks.
The patch management process assures that the software and applications are maintained and always updated, allowing a smooth and supportive system uptime.
-Maintains standards of compliance
Considering the continual rise in cyber-attacks, organizations are usually ordered by the administrative bodies to sustain a specific level of compliance. Therefore, patch management is a crucial piece to adhere to the compliance standards set by the regulators.
-Enhancement of features:
Patch management has the ability of going beyond fixing software bugs as it also incorporates feature updates and advancements. Patches are critical to ensure that one has the most advanced and remarkable offerings.
Benefits of Patch Management
To begin with, they overcome system-related crashes so that the organization can increase productivity and save on the expenses linked with low-level patch management. When employing automated patch management, one is free to concentrate on the organization’s core activities that raise revenue rather than individual management of patches and updates on the overabundance of systems within the network.
An organization can benefit from patch management in various ways, come of them are:
-Ensures a safer environment
When the patching vulnerabilities are regularly checked, it helps in managing and reducing the existing risks. This, in turn, protects the organization from any possible security breach and creates a safer environment for everyone.
-Customer satisfaction is achieved
In case the organization sells a particular product or service that expects the clients to work with your technology, it becomes highly important to ensure that the technology works efficiently. Patch management, being a process that fixes software bugs and other technical issues, will allow the systems to keep running throughout.
-No need to pay exorbitant fines
In case the organization is not using patch management, it could be charged with massive monetary fines from the administrative bodies because it does not satisfy the compliance standards. Successful patch management guarantees the organization complies with the standards and keeps it from fines and penalties.
-Continual product innovations
As mentioned previously, one may implement patches to modernize the existing technology with enhanced features and functionalities. It provides the organization with newer ways of deploying the most advanced innovations to your software.
Patch Management Best Practices
Some of the most reliable practices of patch management that allow organizations to improve cybersecurity are:
-Realizing the value of patch management
Understanding why patch management is an essential part of cybersecurity solutions is of utmost importance. Immediate responses to the latest patch updates may decline and guard vulnerable systems from the threats.
-The consequence of delayed patch application
Late patch application leads to a rigorous outcome causing significant security breaches in the systems. It is important to realize that such a delay can result in loss of data or even the business for that matter.
-Availing the assistance of the managed service providers
A managed service provider offers patch management software to meet the business’s requirements, irrespective of how big or small it is. They take complete control over the patch management process as the organization can concentrate on the management and revenue-generation.
-Deploy of patch test
Certain patches are not compatible with a specific operating system or application and cause the system to crash. It is suitable for IT admins to operate a patch test well in advance so that when the patches are deployed, major issues don’t occur.
In a nutshell, patch management is almost inevitable for organizations that run multiple systems to ensure security and maximization of productivity. We hope the guide mentioned above helps you develop a clear understanding of the concept, it’s functioning, and its importance.