What is Patch Management and Why it is Important?
Cyber-attacks are increasing day by day and organizations and individual suffers because of those attacks. For, cybercriminals don’t differentiate between how big or small your business is. Any vulnerability in your infrastructure can cost you and your customers severely. Do you want that? Not, because no one wants to destroy their business just because of some mischievous elements.
The best way to safeguard your business from cyberattacks is to implement a comprehensive cyber security strategy. One of the most important parts of any cyber security is Patch Management. In this blog, we are going to discuss what is Patch Management and why it is important.
We hope you must have heard about it in various cybersecurity-related discussions but if you haven't heard of it before? No worries, we have got you covered.
What is Patch & what do we mean by patch management?
Patches can be defined as software and operating system (OS) updates that are developed to address security vulnerabilities within a program or product. OS vendors, Application vendors, and Network equipment vendors release updates to fix performance bugs, provide enhanced security features, and/or fix open vulnerabilities in the software/device.
Patches come in a variety of forms, including hotfixes, security patches, firmware, and service packs. When software updates become available, vendors usually put them on their websites for users to download. Some software automatically checks for updates, and many vendors offer users the option to receive updates automatically. If automatic options are not available, the IT team periodically checks the vendor’s websites for updates.
Patch management is the comprehensive process of acquiring, distributing, and applying updates to software and devices to keep them updated with the latest version to prevent exploit against known vulnerabilities.
Following are some of the key steps in patch management:
- Create and maintain an up-to-date inventory of all your infrastructure assets.
- Wherever applicable & possible, scanning of the infrastructure to check the available patches from their respective vendors.
- Once the scanning is completed, the next step is to acquire the patches from vendors & perform the assessment to remove false positives and perform the prioritization.
- Once assessed, the next step is to initiate the deployment on the applicable devices through appropriate automated or manual means. According to the best practices, initially, patches must be deployed on test machines, deployment on production systems must be done only after completion of successful testing.
- Tracking of the patches being deployed to ensure closure & compliance.
- Regular reporting to required stakeholders for governance purposes.
Why Patch Management is important
Any organization can benefit from patch management in a variety of ways. Some of them are listed below:
- Improved security - Comprehensive patch management strategy focuses on deploying patches on maximum possible assets according to the organization’s compliance & business requirement. This helps in addressing the vulnerabilities present in the environment and reduces the risk of breaches.
- Reduces unexpected downtime - Malware attacks or any security breach can result in the loss of huge production hours. Regular patching can help businesses to prevent unexpected downtimes.
- Reduces expenses - If the systems of your organization are not patched and, as a result, aren't meeting compliance criteria, regulatory bodies may levy heavy financial penalties. Recovery after a breach or payment of ransom to cybercriminals may also result in significant expenses.
- Product Innovation & feature enhancements - Apart from security fixes, patches are also released & deployed for bug fixing, feature enhancement & innovation. It helps in improving the functionality, user experience, and productivity.
There is one more thing that we want to emphasize is the time in the patch management lifecycle. Every time a security patch is released the cybercriminals become aware of the newly discovered vulnerability and start exploring the options to exploit it. We hope you wouldn’t want to be the organization being exploited in the absence of the required patches. Organizations should try to implement mechanisms for automated patching as much as possible to avoid manual delays and failures.
We hope now you must be having clarity on what is patch management and why do you need it for your organization. If you are thinking about how you can prepare and address risks arising due to a lack of effective patch management, then hiring a cyber security expert should be your call. A cyber security consultant can help you prepare and implement the right cyber security strategies for patch management according to your line of business and needs.
Cybersec Knights are one of the esteemed service providers in this space that you can reach out to.