Why Automated Patching is Important

There is nothing worse than the nagging feeling of knowing you’re at risk of cyber attack because the current status of your endpoints is all over the board and getting them into compliance is going to be a major undertaking, which you just don’t have time or resources to handle at the moment. You had hoped you only had one or two snowflakes but in reality you’re looking into the teeth of a blizzard

A “snowflake” is a term often used to describe something or someone that is unique from the rest of the group. Every snowflake is different, and snowflake endpoints are no exception. Endpoints with one-off configurations, that are missing drivers, or have software versions that are unsupported, cause variability that is expensive to manage and support. This variability also makes your organization a vulnerable target for potential security breaches.

Deploying and patching software has long been the bane of many IT managers. It’s not just whether or not you’re patching (you should be), it’s how quickly you’re patching. Cyber attacks are deployed as soon as exploits are known, waiting to patch them only increases your risk factor.

Snowflakes and the related patch management can be a serious drain on resources. These problems are compounded by the increased use of a variety of different systems including operating systems, hardware, applications, and bring your own device policies. The disparate nature results in a lack of controlled oversight.

It’s also important to remember that software is created by humans, and like any other human creation, there are flaws and unintended mistakes. The more complex the software, the larger the chance for vulnerabilities. There is an incredible amount of software created today across nearly every imaginable category, just look at the martech map alone, exploits are inevitable.

A lot of people compare patching to maintaining an automobile when describing the current state of security to other department heads. From the basics like locking your doors (using passwords) and making sure the alarm is on (antivirus programs) to replacing older worn parts (update/patches). Some are more important than others, like changing the oil or replacing the tires, but even less frequent maintenance issues, like new shocks or worn brake pads, if left unaddressed could end up leaving you stranded on the side of the road. Patch management is no different, even the smallest vulnerability left unaddressed could result in a security breach.

Why is patching an ongoing issue? In a world of minimum viable products, manufacturers believe it is more efficient to address patches as they arise rather than have longer development cycles to address potential security flaws. A lot of companies deprioritize secure code review, leaving millions of lines of code exposed to threats. The process is both costly to manufacture and is resource intensive. Rather than delay releases or divert focus from features, it is easier to handle on an ad hoc basis once the product is in market.

While industry numbers are hard to find, basic extrapolation puts the number of exploitable vulnerabilities at between two and eight per hundred thousand lines of code. When you consider that Windows 10 has 50 million lines of code, it’s no surprise that there is an ever growing list of bugs that need to be addressed.

Automated patch management solves the problem of snowflakes. Automation identifies and remediates any snowflakes and brings them back to conformity with your endpoint policies quickly and efficiently. Saving you both time and resources in the process, and allows IT teams to focus their energy on higher level tasks that provide more value to the company.

Patching automation is recommended by security experts as the most efficient and effective way to maintain your endpoints. It enables both consistency and timeliness and reduces the workload exponentially. The less intervention required (especially by the end users) to keep patches updated the better off your organizational security will be.

If you have questions or would like to see how we automate patch management across Mac OS, Windows, and Linux , check out our how it works page, or let us know if you’d like to talk in more detail about your specific needs.

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