It has been established without a doubt that patch management is very important. Now the question is, how to do it correctly? Though this is a challenging task, enterprises can put an effective patch management system in place. There are numerous patch management softwares available in the market. Choosing the correct software is of paramount importance for effective patch management.
As an IT administrator, you must have a clear objective for your patch management program. Your intention should be to create an effectively configured environment that is kept protected from both known and unknown vulnerabilities in the different operating systems and application software in all the devices that are connected to the enterprise network.
Typical Manual Patch Management System
Many enterprises do not have an effective patch management system. They initiate the search and update process for a patch only after a user raises a complaint for some issue. This is called manual patch management, and while it gives the administrator full control of what is being patched, it can be a very cumbersome process in a large enterprise with diverse OS platforms. OS and application developers release “hot-fixes,” or important security updates that may be necessary to protect the enterprise from a currently running malware campaign. As an example, antivirus companies release updated virus definitions to thwart a zero-day malware campaign. If an enterprise depends on manual patch management, it is vulnerable until the IT administrator downloads and installs the update – which may be too late.
There are a few advantages to manual patch management. Notably, it allows:
IT administrators to test the patches in a test environment—the patches for a specific OS or application must not affect the existing compatibility and functioning of the applications. There have been numerous cases of updated patches crashing the enterprise network.
The IT administrator can choose which patches to apply
Automated Patch Management System
A dedicated tool that provides comprehensive Patch Management through automatic updates is the best bet for an enterprise. Surveys, as well as malware attacks such as the “WannaCry ransomware,” demonstrated the dangers of not updating on time. Months before the WannaCry attacks, Microsoft issued security patches for the vulnerability that WannaCry exploited. Reports after the outbreak revealed that it was only those systems that had not promptly updated those security patches that were affected.
So, what else must your Patch Management System support?
- It must be automated
- It must be able to check, acquire and install the patches for the various operating systems, software applications, antivirus solutions, and devices
- The system dashboard must provide a comprehensive picture of the patch management status in all devices
- It must be easy to manage
- It must provide the ability to test patches and then roll them out to the devices/ endpoints
Utilizing an automated patch management system is the right way to do patch management.