The rise in remote work since the COVID-19 pandemic has presented IT professionals with a new challenge — keeping their businesses’ online networks secure. It was a tough enough task when employees, and in turn their devices, were all under one roof. Now that people are working under the roof of their choosing, IT teams across the U.S. must continuously maintain the high level of security that exists within the office walls.
Maintaining system security for remote computers might be difficult, but it’s not impossible thanks to various tech functions like patching. Patches are software code fixes that can, among other things, plug any holes in a software’s system. This feature alone has become more critical as more businesses let their employees work remotely.
What’s the purpose of remote patch management?
Remote patch management lets IT team members and administrators add patches and updates on any application, piece of software or device that’s connected to a network from any location, according to SolarWinds. Plus, remote patch management software allows IT professionals to check for available patches and updates, perform installations and deployments without actually being at workstation.
The remote patch management’s system update capability is key because outdated patch versions can leave networks vulnerable to cyberattacks. Since these updates can be made remotely and on an automated basis, there’s minimal concern that an outdated software patch will be present for too long. Bigger companies that have thousands of network endpoints can count on remote patch management to spot vulnerabilities, account for them and remedy the solution as fast as possible.
What’s the best way to manage patching on remote computers?
Employees’ potentially limited cybersecurity knowledge is perhaps IT administrators’ biggest concern when it comes to remote work. Concern levels only increase if a remote worker is conducting company business on their personal device. Just how safe is that data? It’s situations like these where remote patch management and monitoring are invaluable.
Here are some potential best practices businesses’ IT team can take for patch management with their workers’ remote computers.
Ask employees to set devices to auto-update
This isn’t ideal, but unless a company is willing to supply its employees with work-dedicated computers it will have to count on its workers to be smart about security. In this instance, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) considers things like setting device operating systems and apps to auto update, using strong passwords and not doing personal computing on work-dedicated devices as “being smart.”
Provide employees with more secure equipment
Another less than perfect solution, but it’s better than employees conducting company business over their unsecured home network. HPE also states that companies can send employees a separate wireless access point that’s already set up and potentially have a virtual private network (VPN) in it. The downside is it could be a lot of equipment to send out depending on the size of the company. There’s also the issue of if every employee would know how to connect the equipment correctly.
If a company’s workforce can successfully set up a secure remote system, it must remind employees to remain on the company VPN to shield itself from cyberattacks. It only takes one case of carelessness for malware to infiltrate a system.
Work with an expert
Hiring an enterprise with remote patch management expertise is a company’s best bet for keeping its work from home employees’ devices secure. For example, Faronics’ cloud-based IT deployment application, Deploy lets companies manage all of its remote devices in real time. Deploy also can send automated updates for both Windows and Mac machines, compile a computer’s information and app usage.
The remote patching solution also makes it easier for IT admins to protect their company’s private information and defend employees’ personal devices from potential cyber attacks.
The Faronics Deploy solution supports remote workforces in these areas:
- Application management: Companies can control updates at the app level so the end user does not have to intervene. Patches can be automated or pushed manually to any device that’s connected to the Deploy Server. Meanwhile, failed updates are detected right away and will show up in the management console.
- Windows updates: The Deploy solution can help manage Windows updates via a flexible test-and-approve process. Admins can check for pending updates in various patch categories after an initial patch scan. Updates can be applied to computers on their own or integrated with a current Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) infrastructure. Important updates are sent immediately, which decreases the chance of system exploitation.
- OS deployment: Faronics Deploy provides system administrators with a number of customization features to assist with OS patching optimization. Admins can use an imaging server to build synced repositories so imaging tasks can be sent to computers via a centralized management console.
Remote work does not look to be going away any time soon. Sadly, the same can be said for cyber criminals. Implementing a reliable remote patch management system provides a solid safeguard to keep bad actors from disrupting an enterprise’s network.