Importance of Patch Management to Businesses

As the economy begins the gradual but steady opening, it is helpful to find a way of alleviating certain concerns you have regarding your business’ safety and performance. Understanding the advantages of efficient patch management is important for every business as it is a key instrument that your business should use to secure your activities and improve them.

We will discuss the patch management in this blog post and explore the reasons for the importance of patch management for your business.

Definition of Patch Management:

Patch management means the update or patching of each component in the IT network of a company to ensure that it performs and protects against cyber attack. The components of IT network include desktops, laptops, mobile phones, routers, firewalls, servers, operating systems, anti-virus solutions, supplier and proprietary software and others in the network of a company. The update is a piece of code which must be installed manually or automatically in each component’s software.

A company can choose to either manually deploy patches for this important task or use an automated patch management system. Regardless of the size of your company, using an automated patch management system is generally more efficient to reduce the time and costs of monitoring and installing patches.

Automated patch management by installing a client agent on the network generally reduces patch deployment costs and is more time efficient. This agent may be used by the internal or external network administrator to monitor and adjust the patch distribution and generate reports on the patch status of each IT component.

What are the different types of patches?

Software patches correct existing bugs or vulnerabilities that have been identified following release of a piece of software or software. Many types of patches are available:

  • Hotfix – A Hot fix patch is designed to correct a certain problem, and these hot fixes are developed and made available to limit the impact of a software problem as soon as possible. Hot fixes can be applied during running (hot) the software or system without re-starting or closing the program. A hot fix cannot be disclosed publicly.
  • Point release – a dot release is a small or relatively small release to fix a piece of software error or flaw without adding features. Point Release is an error or a fault.
  • Maintenance release – Incremental updates between software or service packages to resolve several outstanding issues
  • Patches for security – A security patch is used to correct a vulnerability’s weakness in an asset. This corrective action prevents successful operation and the ability of an asset to exploit certain vulnerability will be removed or mitigated. Patch management is part of vulnerability management – a cyclical practice of vulnerability identification, classification, remediation and mitigation (security risks).
  • The Service Pack (SP) or Functions Pack (FP), which usually fix many outstanding issues and typically include all patches and hot fixes, maintenance and security patches released before the service pack, includes a collection of the updated, corrected or enhanced features in the form of the single installable package provided by the software program. Most of we know Windows Packs, such as the Windows 10 Version 1903 Update Package that was launched by Microsoft on 21 May 2019 was released for all of our users on 6 June. Introduced privacy updates, more control over Window Update, a sandbox for professional users, Password less Login, Android phone screen mirrors, improved troubleshooting, and security features, by Microsoft Windows 10 Version 1903.
  • Unofficial patches – These patches are developed by a third party or a user community, mostly because of a software development company’s lack of support (e.g. software company has left business) or because a software product has reached its defined end-of-life. These are designed to fix bugs or software defects, like an everyday patch. Nefarious people can introduce non-official patches to create security vulnerabilities; although these are rare and reported quickly, we only recommend that confidence-based patches be installed and that companies do avoid unofficial patches.
  • Monkey Patches – A monkey patch is an update that extends changes or localizes the behavior of a plugin or software product without modifying its source code. This is like an unofficial patcher.
Two Main Reasons for Patch Management

For the safety of your IT network and ensuring optimal performance of your company, the main reasons are effective patch management. System faults usually occur when faults are discovered with software coding, and cybercriminals are trying to benefit from it to obtain unauthorized access to sensitive data in the network of a company. Data violations can cause costly disorder and damage the brand and reputation of your company. Effective patch management will protect your business against this risk.

The performance of vendors and software and proprietary IT components can also be adversely affected by software design defects and they need to be corrected quickly by code/update or patch. Your company wants to work on the most updated and productive levels of all its IT components. Healthy patch management will maintain a seamless operation of your IT network.

Some Disturbing Statistics and Facts Related to Poor Patch Management

A recent Ponemon Research cyber security study found two stunning results about poor patch management:

Patch numbers vulnerabilities (statistics)

The poor patch management accounts for 57 percent of data violations. Ponemon Source Source

37% of the violation victims confirmed that they did not scan vulnerabilities on their systems. Source: Ponemon Institute Study Service Now + Vulnerability State Response Today

Over the last two years 48% of 3,000 companies surveyed have reported one or more data violations. – Ponemon Institute Study Service Now +

34% of the victims of the violation knew that prior to the violation they would be vulnerable. – Now Service + Study Institute of Ponemon

74% of companies can’t patch quickly enough because they have not enough personnel – Service Now + Study of the Ponemon Institute

65% of companies say that prioritizing patches is difficult. – Ponemon Institute Study Service Now +

Edgescan reports that the mean time spent patching hazards increased from 64 days in 2017 to 83 days in 2018 by 22.9 per cent. According to him. Source: Stats report for Edgescan Vulnerability 2019

In 2018 there were 16,555 security vulnerabilities. Details Source: CVE

92%: percentage of security flaws or weaknesses in web applications which can be used. Source: Immunipersonal.

A shortage of skills is reported for 82% of employers, and 71% believe that this gap in talent causes direct and measurable damage to their companies. CSIS – Workforce gap in cyber security

Some additional disturbing statistics and facts underline the importance of effective patch management:

  • An average of 50 new vulnerabilities (which could be easily addressed through patching) were discovered every day throughout 2017. This disturbing number was almost double the amount in 2016 and more than three times the amount in 2015. This number is estimated to increase in 2018 and beyond.
  • Despite the well-publicized warnings and the relatively straightforward remedies provided by patch management, too many companies still fall short in this area. This was demonstrated by the widespread nature of the WannaCry attack, which exploited a vulnerability that had been patched months before. Companies had ample time to prepare and protect themselves, but far too often, they did not take the proper preventative steps. Another example of this too common negligent behavior is the continuing popularity of the exploitation of the remote code execution in Windows common controls, which is known as CVE-2010-2568. There were patches developed for this vulnerability all the way back in 2012, but there are still a considerable amount of companies and users who never updated their operating system, and they continue to pay a considerable price because of security breaches.
  • 9 percent of cyber attacks are based on commonly found vulnerabilities that could be easily addressed by an effective patch management system.
  • Almost a quarter of devices are currently using out of date anti-virus solutions. Anti-virus programs that are not patched will increasingly provide less protection as they are not updated to prevent the latest attacks.
Work with a Trusted IT Partner for Effective Patch Management

We recommend you work with a trusted IT Support partner such as Network Depot to design and execute automated patch management as a crucial part of a total endpoint management solution. An experienced IT partner will know the best patch management system to utilize for your unique business.

A trusted IT partner will know how to install the settings of an automated patch management system to best monitor, update, and secure your customized IT network. They will be able to schedule automatic updates for the software and devices in your infrastructure as well as any devices used remotely. They will also make sure that, whenever possible, patches are installed outside of normal business hours to keep workflow disruptions to a minimum.

Another key advantage of an automated patch management system managed by an IT partner is that they will lessen the danger from the sophisticated and dreaded “zero day attack.” This term refers to the .1 percent of cyber attacks that occur in the small window (sometimes even on the same day) when a vulnerability has been identified and a specific patch is in the process of being produced to repair it.

With automated patch management, your system will be monitored and protected against these malicious occurrences, too. An automated system will immediately be aware of any suspicious behaviors that indicate a zero day attack, quickly contain any potential damage, and backup and restore operations in a worst-case scenario.

After working with your IT Support team to ensure your business is secure and operating optimally with an automated patch management system, you will be able to rest easy over the holidays and the year ahead. With these important matters addressed, we recommend that you do some caroling, drink a glass of eggnog, and happily ring in the New Year!

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