What is Automated Patch Management?

Patch management, part of lifecycle management, has existed since paper tape and punch cards were the primary form of data storage. The process requires IT Managers to identify which patches they want to apply to known vulnerabilities, download and apply the patches, and verify the new patches worked without incident. The process is repeated over and over, with the only variable being how often the process is run...daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly. Using a manual patch management process is time-consuming and resource intensive, which results in patches being delayed or skipped altogether. With cyber attacks on the rise, the need for automated patch management has increased.

Automated patch management removes the manual elements of patching by regularly scanning for necessary updates and providing the ability to automatically apply the patch as soon as it is available. Automating also goes one step beyond standard vulnerability scans, which provide reports on unpatched systems, but still require a manual process to remediate the vulnerabilities. Automated patch management gives IT Managers more control and accountability over the security status of their systems.

For companies with complex networks, a large number of systems, and 3rd party applications, automated patch management provides a complete picture of patch security and ensures all vulnerabilities are remedied in a scalable way that’s not possible with a manual patch management process.

Research shows that  90% of exploited vulnerabilities are at least a year old, and 20% are over ten years old. Although fixes have been released for these vulnerabilities, companies using manual patch management have not prioritized applying these patches. With automated patch management, companies can be 100% patched within minutes of new patches being released, while still allowing security teams to work on other pressing issues.

How Does Patch Automation Work?

Automated cloud patch management systems work by installing an agent on all systems in the infrastructure. Once installed, the agent takes inventory of all hardware, software, and details missing patches. With the click of a button, the patches can be automatically installed. With automation, end users can receive alerts when patching is about to occur, failed patches can be reapplied, and patching status reports can provide full system data at a glance. While installing an agent on thousands of computers can be a tedious task, cloud-based systems such as Automox mean that an agent can be deployed across a network in minutes.

Sophisticated automated patch management systems allow users to control what systems to patch and when. This could mean that critical patches are immediately applied, while less critical patches are applied overnight and patches on specified systems are flagged for approval before being installed. Small companies can employ a zero-touch patching process, while larger companies can retain control over patching while still patching systems more quickly than with a manual process.

Automated patch management also improves visibility  of new and existing vulnerabilities across the infrastructures. By automatically providing a clear view of every endpoint and any outstanding patches, IT managers can reduce exposure to known threats. When new devices or systems are added to a network they are immediately scanned and brought up to date.

Added network visibility also ensures that compliance goals are met, as SysAdmins can see when specific endpoints are out of compliance, and remediate them on the spot. Automated reporting on compliance, vulnerabilities, and patching activity, improves communication with stakeholders, further reducing the time spent on patch security.

Automated patch management reduces vulnerability exposure, increases infrastructure visibility, and minimizes the resources required to improve data security. Automox customers report that they have reduced the time spent on patching by as much as 90%, leaving IT Managers to focus on other critical security issues while staying up-to-date on patching.

For more information about automated patch management and its benefits, please visit our website. We’ll show you how patch automation has helped hundreds of IT Managers and System Administrators keep their workstations and servers secure and protected. You can also check out our solution on your own with our 15 day free trial, no strings attached and no credit card required.

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