As your IT environment likely becomes increasingly complex, it can be more challenging to manage. Some of the simpler elements that you might have once used as part of governing security are probably not well-managed manually anymore.
Automated technical solutions are now needed to ensure organizational security.
One such area of automated opportunity that you might explore is software patching. The concept of manually patching one device at a time is no longer relevant nor is it feasible for the most part. Instead, automation is better suited to effective risk management.
Anything, including applications and data, only has the security level that your devices and infrastructure provides.
If you don’t apply a needed software patch, you’re creating vulnerabilities. You’re also potentially not in compliance with regulatory guidelines. If something were to happen and a breach occurred, it could wreak financial havoc, cause disruptions in business continuity, and diminish your reputation.
Below, we highlight key things to know about a patch management process and why implementing this type of process could be needed in your organization.
An Overview of Patch Management
Patch management is a process that allows you to acquire, install and test code changes, which are patches, on your existing software tools and applications. With patch management, your systems can stay updated.
Patch Management is often done internally by software companies.
If there are issues with security features or upgrades are required, a patch can fix the problems. The fixes occur because the issues aren’t noticed until after the release of the software initially.
Most patches are focused on security, but in less frequent cases, may also be for functionality.
A software patch can fix a bug as well.
Patch management, with those things in mind, can help manage a network of computers through the regular performance of patch deployment.
Automated solutions help detect missing patches and deploy them to endpoints.
Why Is Patch Management Important?
To reiterate, the main reason patch management should be an important priority for any business is because it keeps you updated in a way to better protect against cyber threats.
Without patch management strategies in place, you’re exposing your organization to security flaws. Regulatory compliance is another reason it’s crucial to consider patch management.
Along with increased security, patch management can reduce downtime and help you avoid financial penalties imposed by regulatory agencies.
With the implementation of a patch management process, automation will be a top overall priority because it will reduce your IT team’s burden and ensure efficiency. With your IT staff likely stretched thin right now, the last thing you want to do is add another burden to their plate.
When you automate patch management, you get the advantage of centralized management through a unified solution across all your endpoints. Automation allows you to prioritize patches based on functionality or security effectively. Using automated solutions can help decrease the time between the release of a patch and applying it, and you can standardize your process across your environment.
Establishing a Process
The following are some of the steps that you’ll need to include as you build a patch management process and begin to implement it:
- Consider how you typically group your users in your administration process. You want to replicate something somewhat similar for your operating systems, apps and devices. You should begin to create device and application groups based on priority and risk. You can calculate risk in a number of ways including how critical the component is and usage patterns.
- Once you have an idea of your devices, including any BYOD elements, then you can begin to create internal policies. Your policies will drive everything from here a far as your patching automation process. Even with automation, without the right policies in place, you’re going to have a weak patch management process.
- Your policies determine how often you’ll need to scan for new patches, but again, once you decide on parameters, you can automate this.
- After patches are implemented, you need a testing environment to ensure a smooth rollout of any changes.
- Let users know about upcoming patches and the impacts this could have on them.
Finally, roll out patches in a streamlined way with automatic triggers, and make sure your team regularly monitors status and deals with issues as needed. Your patch management solution and process will need ongoing reviews to make sure you’re keeping up with best practices and that it includes new devices.