Patch Management Best Practices

Maintaining an updated, patched infrastructure is the best way to protect your networks from attacks exploiting known vulnerabilities. But too often patching is pushed to the bottom of a long list of IT tasks. While patching is considered to be a time-consuming yet necessary evil to many IT professionals, As a key element of ongoing security compliance, the consequences of leaving networks vulnerable to attack are far more costly than not patching. To avoid putting your infrastructure at risk, you should adhere to a set of patch management best practices that keep you fully patched in real time and reduce your exposure to known vulnerabilities.

Keep an inventory of all systems

Without knowing what devices, applications, and operating systems are in use, IT teams have no way of identifying those that may be putting the entire network at risk. As employees more frequently access networks from home and abroad, keeping track of systems has become more important. With a cloud based solution like Automox, you’ll maintain an accurate inventory with real time visibility of patch status across your endpoints.

Create a regular patching schedule

If patching is completed on an irregular schedule there is a stronger likelihood that patches will be inadvertently skipped. Providers such as Microsoft release patches monthly, but companies need to monitor multiple operating systems and software applications for updates. This process is time consuming and often put off due to other priorities.

With automated patching you can set your own patching schedule based on vulnerability level, department, location, operating system, or software application. Timely patching is correlated with the risk of data breach1. Once a policy is set, it will run automatically with patches either automatically applied or as part of your patching process. And patches that fail to apply will alert you so you can investigate and fix the issue.

Patch third-party applications

While patching often focuses on operating systems from Microsoft, Apple, or Linux; 3rd party applications such as Java and Adobe account for a much higher percentage of vulnerabilities2. One study found that Java is the single biggest risk3 to US computers due to a high market share and low patch rate, which makes it an excellent target for attackers.

Unfortunately, patching 3rd party application is often overlooked as it is not easily accomplished through legacy on premise solutions or tools such as Microsoft’s WSUS. With modern cloud based solutions, applying patches for 3rd party applications is as easy as applying OS patches. Automox handles all of these patches in a single dashboard, becoming your single source of truth on patch status.

Generate reports regularly

Readily available data on patch status is almost as important as patching itself. When malware such as WannaCry or NotPetya is released, IT teams must be able to immediately assess potential impact across their network. If patching reports are generated manually or through a combination of several systems, it can become difficult to compile datasets and determine the overall security of a network in a timely manner. Maintaining updated reports on the patch status of every workstation and server, will improve response time and reduce your attack surface.

Employ an automated patch management system

Automated patch management streamlines the patching process by adhering to all of the best practices listed above and eliminating the risk associated with delayed patch application. Once thought of as enterprise-only solutions, modern cloud based patching solutions like Automox are now accessible to businesses of any size and enable IT departments to get and stay patched economically and efficiently.


 

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