The recently uncovered Log4J vulnerability has had countless IT security teams in a frenzy. Even though the Apache Software Foundation was quick to release a patch, the exploits have just begun as organizations race to update their systems. According to ZDNet, servers were experiencing over 100 exploit attempts per minute just hours after the flaw was publicly announced. At this point, hackers have attempted to use this widespread vulnerability on nearly half of all global networks.
These attacks, and the countless other data breaches due to unpatched software, underline the importance of regularly updating your organization’s digital systems. Patch management is a vital part of minimizing security risks and maintaining a functional network, which is why it’s essential to equip your IT teams with the right tools. As companies shift to remote or hybrid work structures, auditing, automating and optimizing patch management procedures will only become more critical to securing corporate networks.
What is patch management?
A patch is a quick fix designed to resolve security and functionality issues or add new features to older software versions. In the case of security patches, these are usually rolled out after a company has already detected or experienced a problem ranging from a minor bug to a massive breach. Patch management is the process of allocating and applying these patches to an organization’s devices, operating systems, browsers and applications.
Since 2017 there has been a dramatic rise in the number of publicly disclosed software vulnerabilities, with 18,378 reported in the last year alone, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. As the number of remote workers rises each year and cybercriminals continue to find new exploits in existing software, having a centralized patch management tool has never been more essential to an organization’s security.
Most companies utilize either Windows Server Update Services or a cloud-based platform, but which tool is right for your organization?
Windows Server Update System (WSUS)
Microsoft released WSUS as a free application designed to help IT administrators optimize their patching process for the Windows operating system and related MS applications. WSUS eliminates the need for manual patching as it automatically updates connected workstations with each new release. Some additional features offered by WSUS involve:
- Targeted updates for specific computers
- Bandwidth management
- Network resource optimization
- Multiple language support for international workers
However, while WSUS might be a cost-effective solution, it has a few significant drawbacks. For instance, deploying the platform can be a complicated and time-consuming process as the interface is notoriously difficult to use. Other disadvantages of WSUS include:
- IT administrators must meet numerous system requirements before installing the program.
- It cannot manage operating systems other than Windows.
- As more updates release, it requires significant memory and RAM to run.
- There is limited visibility on patches and vulnerabilities, preventing IT administrators from gathering the data they need for strong system defense.
Cloud-based patch management
A cloud-based patch management tool leverages cloud capabilities to provide real-time monitoring and maximum control over the patching process from one centralized console.
As more workers migrate from the office to their homes, cloud patching becomes essential to ensure that both remote and on-premise devices are updated with the latest features and security. Using this technology, IT administrators can manage and automate patch deployment on any user system with total visibility. Cloud-based patch management solutions also provide IT security teams with a list of all device connections both inside and outside of the network. Without cloud capabilities, only devices in the main office are logged, leaving a massive gap in your organization’s cybersecurity.
Cloud patching solutions are an excellent tool for organizations looking to go fully remote as they don’t require internal servers or maintenance. This means they are also cost-effective for smaller companies and international businesses alike. Additionally, cloud-based patching tools are flexible, scalable and compatible with multiple operating systems to meet the needs of any organization. This way, IT teams can distribute network-wide updates for all employees, no matter where they’re located or what system they use.
Finding the right patching solution for your organization
Faronics offers an easy-to-use patch management solution that provides IT departments with maximum flexibility and control over their network, computer systems and devices.
Our Deep Freeze Cloud solution combines 20 years of experience and innovation in endpoint management to deliver a comprehensive suite of IT administration features directly from our servers. With Deep Freeze Cloud, you can enable automatic downloads or create custom schedules for Windows and third-party application updates on targeted computers or in batches. Our user-friendly dashboard also gives IT teams real-time data and remote monitoring capabilities to improve update efficiency and help inform business decisions.