As a large percentage of the workforce continues to opt into fully remote and hybrid office environments, having patch management protocols in place has become more critical than ever for business leaders and IT teams across the globe.
Patch management consists of scanning computers, mobile devices and any other internet-enabled machines on an enterprise network for missing software updates, known as “patches.” By deploying patches as soon as they become available, teams can avoid costly downtimes caused by glitches or bugs in a program. These important updates are also often released to address and remove potential vulnerabilities that hackers could or already have taken advantage of.
Enterprise systems that run on Windows — the world’s most popular operating system — have become especially prone to malicious attacks now that a higher proportion of the workforce is logging in from their personal devices and networks. Keep reading to learn about the best practices related to preventative Windows maintenance that will save your team time and lead to fewer headaches than attempting to salvage your remote network following an attack.
What is Windows patch management?
Windows patch management is simply the process of managing patches specifically for Microsoft Windows.
As TechRepublic explains, Microsoft attempted to simplify the patch management process for administrators by creating “Patch Tuesday” in 2003 — the second Tuesday of every month is dedicated to security-related updates, and the fourth Tuesday is reserved for patches that aren’t related to vulnerabilities. In some cases, Microsoft will also release an “out of band” update for a severe security issue, publishing a patch outside of this standard timeframe. However, this usually only happens when a security gap is found to be extremely serious and actively exploited.
According to AV Test’s 2019/2020 Security Report, of the 114 million new malicious programs developed in 2019, 79% of all attacks were distributed on Windows systems. And now, following the uncertainty of COVID-19, that number is on the rise. As hackers take advantage of newly created remote systems to spread malware and increase phishing attacks, the percentage of attacks targeting Windows computers has risen to nearly 85%.
As the most common operating system in the world, Windows is also a prime target for hackers due to its frequently found vulnerabilities — PCMag reports that Microsoft has had more than 660 dangerous security gaps, 357 of which were attributed to Windows 10. By leveraging automated patch management processes, teams can lower the likelihood of a missed update leading to a costly attack.
Automating Windows patch management processes
Although patch management was traditionally considered to be a low-cost, simple process, software companies are now releasing thousands of patches every year. That makes it difficult for IT teams to efficiently manage and deploy updates.
Facing heightened security risks as well as the potential financial and legal impact resulting from a data breach, companies are increasingly looking toward patch management tools that automatically seek out and deploy new updates. Removing the need for manual maintenance and monitoring allows leaders to reallocate resources that were once tied up in highly repetitive administrative tasks. And, a recent study from Gartner has even identified the process of automating simple security tasks as one of the leading IT trends set to transform the business world over the next few years.
When looking for a patch management solution, your organization should find one that offers a scalable infrastructure that will grow alongside your evolving needs. By innovating patch management processes and using tools to help automate time-consuming tasks, your company can better manage costs and capture new efficiencies while also reducing security risks.
Finding the right patch management solution
Although the benefits of automating patch management are clear, many organizations lack the time and resources to create their own system to do so. Faronics’ easy-to-use software distribution and patch management tools provide maximum control over Windows and third-party app installation and updates.
Unlike other tools, our Deep Freeze Cloud patch management features Windows updates, application deployment, scheduled application updates and software usage stats. IT teams can easily stay on top of vulnerabilities and threats with dashboards and alerts with real-time patch status — without having to spend valuable time manually checking.
With nearly 30,000 unique customers using over 10 million licenses in over 150 countries, our team of experts has a history of providing excellent value to users. Faronics’ solutions will help your teams to reduce risk, manage costs and re-capture the hours lost to repetitive administrative tasks.
If your organization is ready to begin the first step in patch management or is looking to simplify its current software distribution processes, contact us today to learn more.