What are the Best Practices for Patch Management?

  • In a study by the Ponemon Institute, 57% of cyberattack victims stated that applying a patch would have prevented the attack.
  • Patch management is an integral part of managing the IT infrastructure of an organization. In line with the above survey result, improper patching can leave an organization exposed to cyber-attacks; as criminals can exploit known vulnerabilities.

What is Patch Management?

  • Patch management is the systematic implementation of fixes and updates to the software resources in the IT infrastructure of an organization that includes operating systems, applications, server components, etc.

Why Patch Management is Important?

  • In this day and age, it’s difficult to be on any social media site and not see a story pop up about a major company that was hacked. This is an unfortunate reality we are living in. To keep hackers out, we have to keep our data safe and that starts with keeping the software on our computers up-to-date. If you’re not familiar with the term, “patch management”, it means making sure the software on your computer has all the latest updates and fixes. This is important because your company’s sensitive data (name, address, banking information, etc.) is at risk if you don’t update your software.

Some of the Benefits of Patch Management

  • The benefits of network patch management are many. Some of which are as follows:
  • The most important, of course, is that it can prevent the need for a full system reboot. When a large, complex system needs to be rebooted, it can take a lot of time and cause significant disruption to the business. Administrators can use patches to address security and performance issues that may have been ignored until the system was rebooted.
  • Another benefit is that patches can keep your network environment stable to ensure that everything operates at the best possible level. If you don’t install patches, you won’t be able to take advantage of the newest software updates.
  • A third benefit is that patches may be used to alter system configurations. Often, administrators will configure a system for the

Patch Management Best Practices

  • Most organizations are aware of the importance of patch management, but the challenges come while implementing a sound patch management solution.
  • Patching is a strategic initiative that involves the amalgamation of people & processes and accommodation of the ever-expanding network and complexities due to the hybrid nature of modern enterprises.
  • To come such challenges, here are some best practices that you as a technician can incorporate into your workflow for better patch management.
  • Maintain a Repository: Having a detailed account of all assets, both hardware and software, in a network allows technicians to better plan patch rollout.
  • Monitoring Security Updates from Vendors: Software vendors release periodic updates for their products. For example, Microsoft releases fixes and updates for their product on the second Tuesday of every month, which is popularly called patch Tuesday. Staying informed about such updates allows technicians to better prioritize updates. 
  • Create a patch policy: A patch policy allows for the enforcement of a set of rules on how to deploy patches for a network. Such a rule allows for a systematic deployment of critical patches without disturbing the normal operation of a business. 
  • Schedule patch deployment: As a technician, you need to decide on a timeframe when to deploy patches and in the case of critical patches how quickly to deploy them.
  • Categorize patches: As a technician, you need to know what patches need to be prioritized over others. This can be achieved by adhering to the severity status assigned by the vendor. Proper prioritization allows for the remediation of vulnerabilities that can prove to be fatal for the business.

Key Takeaway

Patch management is an integral part of the maintenance process of a network. It thwarts attacks stemming from software vulnerabilities. Executing sound patch management requires adherence to best practices, some of which are mentioned above.

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