Automated Patch Management Reduces Your Attack Surface & Risk of a Breach

We are increasingly living in an automated world. Although we may not live quite like characters from Star Wars or The Jetsons, we are moving in that direction. Today’s reality is that automation is all around us, even if it is not yet fully integrated into our daily lives.

Some examples? If you took a vacation or business trip recently, you may have not realized that about 90% of your flight was controlled by an autopilot.

The new car or truck you just purchased was built with robots that automated precision tasks such as welding and painting. And we’re already seeing the testing of fully automated cars and trucks that can operate with little or no human interaction.

But just as automation can bring us all sorts of benefits, it also has the ability to wreak havoc on businesses, government entities, and critical infrastructure in many ways.

Automated Cyber Attacks

As many of us adopt automation for improved processes and business outcomes, cyber criminals are also increasingly leveraging a number of automated approaches to attack vulnerable systems. These strategies run the gamut from targeted data breaches, loaders and cryptors, banking injects, exploit kits, and others that allow them to gain access to systems, install malware or ransomware, and steal valuable data.

One of the challenges of protecting enterprises is that cyber criminals are now leveraging automation to weaponize new critical vulnerabilities in an average of 7 days, and zero-day vulnerabilities are already weaponized at the moment of disclosure. Most organizations aren’t fighting these automated attacks with automated tools of their own, leaving vulnerabilities exposed for an average of 205 days.

This puts those organizations at enormous risk.

The Velocity of Endpoint Hardening

One of the most effective methods for reducing cybersecurity risk and exposure is to focus on patching velocity with the 24/72 Endpoint Hardening Threshold. Zero-day vulnerabilities need to be patched and remediated within 24 hours and all other critical vulnerabilities should be remediated within 72 hours in order to outpace attackers.

24/72 is a critical metric that can be leveraged from the C-Suite all the way down to technical professionals. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to meet this best practice without an automated patch management and endpoint solution.

Recent research illustrates how unprepared many organizations are to reduce their attack surface and reduce the risk of a breach. We recently released the 2021 State of IT Operations Report by the AimPoint Group, which surveys 500 IT operations and security professionals at enterprises with headcounts ranging from 500 to 25,000, in 15 different industries. The report looks at the readiness of organizations to adapt to a remote world and their ability to protect remote systems through patching and endpoint management.

The use of automation is a key theme throughout the report. The report found that automation for patch and endpoint management is currently underutilized, yet deemed critical to enabling and protecting today’s hybrid workforces.

Two of the survey questions about patch automation illustrate this problem clearly.

Rate of Patch Automation

Approximately 60% of survey respondents are either using no endpoint or patch management automation at all, or have only developed some scripts. The degree of automation is progressively less for smaller organizations compared to larger ones, likely due to fewer resources and solutions.

Level of automation for endpoints graph

Source: 2021 State of IT Operations Report

The Ability to React Quickly to Cyber Vulnerabilities

Organizations are struggling to react quickly enough to patch and remediate critical vulnerabilities, especially for remote and cloud systems. Around 60% report that it takes their organization more than three days to patch cloud and remote endpoints. And over 20% or respondents report it still takes over 30 days to patch remote laptops, remote desktops, and cloud servers. This is well beyond the 24/72 threshold for endpoint hardening.

Response time to critical vulnerabilities

Source: 2021 State of IT Operations Report

So what can organizations do to help reduce their attack surface, minimize cybersecurity risks, and better protect their remote workforce?

Choosing an Automated Patch Management and Endpoint Hardening Solution

Patch and endpoint management are vital components of a broader IT operations strategy. Evaluating your next patch management solution is a lot easier when you have an inside edge on what is important.

There are several key automation capabilities you need to consider when evaluating patch and endpoint management solutions to help you increase the velocity of endpoint hardening:

  • Comprehensive ability to take any action on endpoints and automatically enforce those actions
  • Global, cloud-native, and infrastructure-free solution with no dependence on local distribution servers and complex infrastructure
  • Automation features to reduce alert fatigue and improve organizational speed and agility
  • Continuous enforcement of patching and configuration policy compliance requirements, regardless of device location
  • Full-featured API for integrating and automating functionality within an organization’s existing tools
  • Automatic deployment of software and updates at scale

If you would like to learn more about choosing a solution to help reduce your attack surface and the potential for a breach with automated patching, be sure to download our Endpoint Hardening and Patch Management Cheat Sheet. It includes a helpful list of capabilities to review when evaluating vendors, which you can use to quickly understand the important attributes of a comprehensive, cloud-native IT operations platform that can help you avoid any unwelcome surprises for your IT team.

About Automox Automated Patch Management

Facing growing threats and a rapidly expanding attack surface, understaffed and alert-fatigued organizations need more efficient ways to eliminate their exposure to vulnerabilities. Automox is a modern cyber hygiene platform that closes the aperture of attack by more than 80% with just half the effort of traditional solutions.

Cloud-native and globally available, Automox enforces OS & third-party patch management, security configurations, and custom scripting across Windows, macOS, and Linux from a single intuitive console. IT and SecOps can quickly gain control and share visibility of on-prem, remote and virtual endpoints without the need to deploy costly infrastructure.

Experience modern, cloud-native patch management today with a 15-day free trial of Automox and start recapturing more than half the time you're currently spending on managing your attack surface. Automox dramatically reduces corporate risk while raising operational efficiency to deliver best-in-class security outcomes, faster and with fewer resources.