Saturday, August 13, 2022
Saturday, August 13, 2022
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Patch Management Best Practices

by Milcah Lukhanyu
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You’ve probably encountered software that doesn’t respond appropriately to users. In such a scenario, we often say the program “is bugged” and try to repair it, mostly by resetting our device or reinstalling it.

While some operational issues do get better after a re-launch, most software relies on developers’ efforts to function correctly. Yes, you’ve guessed it – we are talking about patches.

A patch is usually a tiny piece of code aimed at fixing bugs and security vulnerabilities in an existing piece of software. However, being available and being applied are two detrimental states of a patch.

To keep your systems updated and secure, you need to implement patch management best practices, apply them to the right apps at the right time, and monitor their progress and performance.

Here are seven of the best practices we use to patch our devices and networks to give you a head start in your patch management process.

7 Best Practices in Patch Management

Upon public release, new patches often disclose the vulnerabilities they are trying to fix.

Logically, attackers could go through the latest patch notes for software and use the weak points before all available systems apply the patch.

To stay ahead of malicious attempts on your system, we suggest following a customized, sensible patch management plan.

Inventory

Firstly, a comprehensive inventory of all system software and hardware is crucial to get a clear idea of how to proceed.

Once you do, you’ll be able to detect and cross-examine potential security vulnerabilities. Afterward, you can quickly assess which patches matter the most to your system’s safety.

Risk Assessment

With inventory done, you can assess risks associated with every device or app in your network.

All systems benefit from patches, but some items on your list require higher security priority. For example, server patching can wait if a specific server is not accessible from the internet. Likewise, you can push back application patching if a program is used rarely and only by manual execution.

The bottom line here is to patch the most exposed entry points for a possible hacking attack before all else.

Software Optimization

A greater volume of used software means a higher risk of exposure, especially with large organizations often purchasing different software products dedicated to similar functions.

To avoid unnecessary products and services, you should periodically review and sift out all software in use. Choose the best performing piece of software for each task and get rid of the rest.

In addition to better security, fewer software pieces relate to fewer patches you’d have to apply.

Patch Notes

Many companies use third-party vendors for numerous purposes. It’s convenient, cost-effective, and frees up time for your company’s core projects.

Nonetheless, all third-party software requires you to keep up with vendor patch announcements. Since you already have a clear view of inventory, it is best to subscribe to all security patch notes updates and follow them through corresponding channels.

Moreover, you can send patch notes info to a company inbox or a communication channel to ensure each patch makes it to your patch schedule.

Swift Application Patching

In-house applications, be it in development or fully operating, are more flexible than Oss and servers.

If you find security vulnerabilities in your custom code, you should add the exposed portions to your dev’s team backlog and initiate immediate treatment.

Patching your apps on time leaves little place for hackers to infiltrate your system.

For some companies, such app patching is even more vital than vendor patches.

Test Patches

Quick patching leads the way in patch management best practices. However, every system environment is unique – some patches can disrupt network performance and even bring down devices if applied carelessly.

Apply new patches to a small subset of systems within your network and monitor possible significant problems.

Once you have patched a handful of systems, you can begin spreading the patch to larger groups until the entire company network is patched.

Automated Patching

Using patching software to manage and maintain your systems’ updates takes a massive workload off your shoulders.

In many cases, automated patch application proves to be more accurate and efficient than manual patching. Most modern patching services come with highly customizable options, suitable for almost any enterprise.

What is more, most top-performing cyber protection services cover patch automation. You can protect your system to the fullest while maintaining stellar patch implementation.

Summary

Patch management best practices continuously evolve as malicious attacks find increasingly sophisticated ways to penetrate systems.

However, the core has always been the same.

The patch management process grows in security, automation, and speed. Still, the secure system guidelines remain the same – sensible inventory, quick patching, automation, patch testing, risk assessment, performance monitoring, and innovation.

Having robust patch management is essential. It can be the difference between a properly operating network and a crushing data breach.

The good thing is, you don’t need to perform all patching by yourself. There are plenty of professional patching services and cybersecurity solutions to aid you with the process.

Do your due diligence, form an action plan, and proceed to fortify your networks.

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