As more organizations make a permanent switch to either a fully remote or hybrid workforce, creating policies to address security measures and protect corporate network environments will be essential in the months ahead.
One key component to a strong IT security policy is addressing patch management processes. These updates are typically released by developers to correct small, harmless glitches in software that aren’t initially detected at launch. However, they can also be created to mitigate potentially serious security issues. Malicious actors will use these backdoor vulnerabilities to gain access to organization’s systems and any sensitive information stored within their networks.
With a globally distributed workforce on the rise, putting patch management in the hands of end-users can expose companies to serious risks, as well as potential noncompliance with data privacy regulations. Instead, IT teams need to implement patch management best practices and utilize the right solutions to ensure their digital asset environment is fully protected.
Read on to learn more about how to improve your organization’s patch processes and how you can manage vulnerability remediation.
What do patches defend from?
Patches are a critical piece of an effective software management policy. Typically, the purpose of these updates can fit into four distinct categories:
- Fix software bugs
- Add or enhance features
- Deploy compatibility updates
- Address security issues
While some users may never notice the changes these patches make, others are essential to protecting your devices. Developers often release updates to address serious security flaws as well as glitches not found in the application at launch.
By neglecting to follow-up with these patches, businesses are exposing themselves and sensitive company data to hackers looking to capitalize on vulnerabilities. A study by ServiceNow revealed that in one year, 60% of all data breaches were linked to a vulnerability where a patch was available, but not yet applied at an enterprise level.
CSO Online explains that 80% of all publicly known exploits have security updates available on the day of the vulnerability’s public disclosure. For hackers, it poses little to no challenge to combine this easily accessible information with a company’s digital footprint and identify exploitable vulnerabilities.
Many organizations default to taking a reactive approach to cybersecurity instead of a proactive one. However, this means that they are instantly at risk of hackers identifying and capitalizing on their security vulnerabilities before they know a patch is available.
As the Digital Guardian reports, the process of identifying, isolating and removing a hacker’s attack can cost an organization anywhere from $1.25 million to $8.19 million, taking more than 200 days to successfully remove. For small and medium sized enterprises, this expense and all-consuming use of IT resources could shutter business. At organizations of any size, this exposes any and all data the business is in possession of and, depending on the industry, the potential non-compliance fines could be equal to this or even more expensive.
By having a patch management system in place, organizations can reduce this risk and secure their networks.
The basics of patch management
At its most simple, patch management consists of the structured and regulated procedures an organization has in place to distribute and apply updates.
All IT software and hardware assets, including operating systems, applications and embedded systems such as network equipment, should be addressed in these policies, cautions Rapid7. Patch management is critical to security as it will not only mitigate potential risks, but will also improve system uptime, ensure compliance and boost overall software functionality.
Although patch management is clearly an important consideration for IT teams, it often falls to the wayside as a common expectation is that users will address the notifications to update as they appear on their devices. However, this assumption puts companies at an even greater risk. A study by the University of Edinburgh found nearly half of respondents said that they had been frustrated when updating their software. Those surveyed cited the disruption to workflow as the number one cause of avoiding the task for “as long as possible.”
So how can IT teams reduce risk without devoting all of their resources to patching management processes?
Why is automation so important?
By automating simple but time-consuming tasks such as patch management, your IT team can allocate their labor and other resources toward more complex operational activities.
In a study on the state of vulnerability response, Ponemon Institute reported that 57% of corporate security professionals acknowledge their organization is at a disadvantage because of the reliance on manual processes to respond to vulnerabilities. Annually, experts found that organizations are spending upwards of 18,000 hours at a cost of $1.1 million on patching activities.
Even the most experienced cybersecurity professionals cannot be expected to manually keep up with potential threats to your organization. CSO cautions that an average of 5,000 to 7,000 new computer security threats are announced each year — that works out to as many as 19 every day.
Automated patch management software will assist IT with effective and immediate vulnerability remediation. For organizations who lack the internal infrastructure to create their own system, employing a solution that will ensure their cybersecurity is the best method to reduce the risk of a hack or data breach.
Finding the right solution for your organization
At Faronics, we offer an easy-to-use patch management solution that provides maximum control over Windows and third-party app installation and updates.
Unlike other servicing tools, Deep Freeze Cloud patch management features application deployment, scheduled application updates and software usage stats. Your team will receive real-time data through dashboards and alerts to help inform their business decisions and give them maximum control when it comes to authorizing and installing necessary updates. Customizable patch scheduling also allows teams to manage deployment times and minimize any downtime for end-users.
With almost 30,000 unique customers across 150 countries, our team of experts is ready to help you secure your corporate network and protect your valuable data.