Patching is an important preventative measure organizations should be taking to help proactively protect their assets from malicious actors. In the event of a disaster or other emergency, enterprises need to be prepared to keep operations running effectively and securely. Many organizations adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by quickly transitioning their in-house staff to remote positions. Plans for adjusting workforce dynamics in a situation like this help keep necessary operations running.
If an event does happen, business continuity and disaster recovery plans can help IT professionals reduce the potential impact of the disruptions, as well as help organizations get back to “business as usual” as quickly as possible. Although events can be caused by everything from severe weather to a malicious actor, a strong patch management protocol can help ensure that systems (and backup systems) aren’t easily compromised by low-level attackers when a shift in normal operations may occur.
Business Continuity in Endpoint Security
Business continuity is a top goal for organizations of every size and industry. With the help of a well-formulated business continuity plan, enterprises can ensure that their regular operations run as smoothly as possible -- no matter what challenges they may face in a crisis. Business continuity plans (BCP) can vary, depending on an organization’s size and industry. For example, a large financial institution will probably have more ground to cover in their continuity plans than a small online retailer.
One thing that relates to organizations of all sizes is the ability to maintain operations after an event. For security and IT operations, business as usual may mean keeping track of the patch status for hundreds or thousands of corporate endpoints, as well as other hardware, like servers. In a crisis, operations and infrastructure can be forced to shift quickly; for example, the massive switch to remote work that occurred alongside the COVID-19 pandemic. Rapid changes like this can lead to gaping holes in the security of critical infrastructure.
Increased Security Risks When Business Operations Shift
Protecting critical cyber infrastructure and data is a requirement every organization must contend with, even during a crisis. In a widespread event, like coronavirus, malicious actors are going to be waiting in the wings looking for ways to capitalize on the disruptions to normal business operations. Securing your digital environment is a critical element of ensuring that business can run as usual, regardless of the circumstances.
A sudden change, such as shifting in-house staff to remote positions, can represent a huge security challenge that organizations need to address. Many events may require moving employees onto new uncompromised systems that may not be a part of their general daily use. It’s important to continuously verify that these assets are being properly maintained; this includes patching.
Having visibility into these new endpoints may be challenging depending on how they connect to the corporate network. Without proper visibility, security and IT operations are limited in knowing how secure these devices may be. If these devices aren’t using proper patch management, these employees’ machines may be low hanging fruit for attackers.
Managing Your Weak Spots: Remote Workers and VPNs
Because business continuity plans are much like a “back-up plan,” many may require your organization to rely on equipment that isn’t normally used -- like a VPN. While some organizations may already have a VPN setup for managing a small team of remote workers, a crisis event that requires just about everyone to work remotely can easily put that VPN’s bandwidth to the test.
The process of patching devices through VPN can be highly inefficient. In addition to bandwidth constraints that can slow down the patching process, user frustration can cause remote workers to stop connecting to the VPN and performing updates on their devices entirely. These rogue devices can represent a significant security risk. Cloud-native, cross-platform solutions like Automox make it possible for organizations to track every device on their network and make sure those devices are secure, regardless of location or domain.
Many organizations are starting to turn towards cloud computing as an alternative to VPN, and it’s also becoming more common to encourage BYOD. This contributes to the complexity and diversity of the modern tech landscape, as each endpoint can vary widely in its security vulnerabilities. In some cases, a portion of these devices may not even be visible or known to an organization’s IT staff. Obtaining endpoint visibility allows organizations to track device activity and know if their data remains secure. Regularly deploying security updates helps ensure business continuity across the board by protecting your network against potential cyber threats. For effective vulnerability management, you need visibility in the right places and the ability to remediate vulnerabilities as necessary.
Transitioning Back to “Normal” Business Operations - What to Consider
Business continuity plans aren’t just limited to planning for adjustments in times of crisis; these plans can also outline how organizations will handle the transition back to “normal” operations. Transitioning your on-site staff to remote work en masse is a huge undertaking, and undergoing such a massive shift may ultimately prompt some changes in what “normal” is moving forward.
When organizations start making the switch back to normal operations after a crisis, they can also take the opportunity to look at how they can reduce costs, be more agile and more efficient long-term. For example, some organizations may start exploring alternatives to VPNs for their remote workforce needs, such as cloud computing.
Organizations may also consider how they can improve their patching process to ensure their environments are protected sufficiently, even during a crisis. Estimates suggest that up to 80 percent of data breaches link back to a known vulnerability. Automated, cloud-native patch management helps organizations ensure that every device on their network is getting the necessary security updates.
There are many new tools and approaches businesses can consider for streamlining everyday operations, as well as for making the process of maintaining business continuity during a crisis more fluid and less painful.
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.