A Comparative Breakdown of Patch and Vulnerability Management

“Tell me about your policies for patch and vulnerability management.”

How does your workplace keep up-to-date with the latest patches and updates? How about finding, assessing, and prioritizing vulnerabilities in your infrastructure?

Your next audit may want to know. They may want proof from your IT and HR department.

We advise waiting until an audit, though.

Patients, customers, the people your business helps every day — they’re depending on you way before an audit comes along.

No patch and vulnerability management? No complete cybersecurity strategy. If you don’t have a patch management program, you’re vulnerable to cyberattacks. And if you don’t have a vulnerability management program in place, you won’t know about the vulnerabilities in your system until it’s too late.

While they both aim to cut an organization’s risk and prevent security breaches, they differ in approach and scope.

Do you know why patch and vulnerability management is important?

What is the difference between patch and vulnerability management?

How do you patch hundreds or thousands of workstations?

Who owns both processes from end-to-end?

If your processes are showing some signs of neglect, check out the next upcoming sections for the quickest ways to reinvigorate and document your patch and vulnerability management.

What Should Patch Management Be Doing for You?

Patch management is a routine process of finding, verifying, testing, and installing the updates provided by software vendors to fix vulnerabilities.

Software developers are always working to improve the quality of their software. They release patches that introduce new features, change how existing ones work, and fix security vulnerabilities, and other bugs.

Unpatched systems quickly overwhelm those who handle patch management manually. The number of missing patches grows—a vicious cycle is born. Their risk only goes up with time.

Some System Administrators might be looking at thousands of workstations to patch. How do they patch them all? Patching isn’t just installing updates; it’s keeping track of what patches have been installed on each system so that you know when newer ones are available.

They’re using a systematic approach to fill in missing patches, and they’re automating as much as possible.

Inventory of all those devices? Already done on their behalf.

The eye-straining number of patches is rolled out based on vulnerability prioritization (not all patches need to be applied immediately.)

Deploying protects productivity when scheduled during off-hour maintenance windows.

Hackers know that many people don’t keep their systems up-to-date with security patches. The good news is that patching doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.

What You Need to Know About Vulnerability Management

A vulnerability is a weakness in an application or system that could be exploited by hackers or other malicious actors to gain access to your data.

The goal of vulnerability management is to reduce risk by identifying, prioritizing, and remediating potential security holes before they can be exploited.

Vulnerability management solutions often include a vulnerability scanner—a tool that scans for known vulnerabilities across a network. It detects any software bugs that could lead to unwanted access, unsecure configurations, or other potential problems.

After identifying a vulnerable asset, you need to determine what action mitigates that vulnerability.

Who Owns Patch and Vulnerability Management Processes?

In a typical enterprise, patch management is overseen by the IT department, specifically under the purview of the system administrators, network administrators, or IT managers. Depending on the organizational structure, dedicated roles like Patch Manager or Cybersecurity Analysts are specifically tasked with this role. They’re responsible for upholding all systems, software, and applications with the latest patches. They collaborate with the security team to prioritize patches based on criticality and potential impact on the organization’s security posture.

In most cases, vulnerability management is overseen by the Information Security team, with the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) usually at the helm. The CISO sets the security strategy and works with stakeholders across the organization to maintain implementation.

The vulnerability management team usually includes security analysts and engineers who are tasked with identifying, evaluating, and mitigating vulnerabilities. They collaborate with the patch management team to tackle vulnerabilities and bolster the organization’s security defenses.

What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Patch and Vulnerability Management?

Both patch management and vulnerability management:

  • Are vital for shielding networks from potential threats.
  • Identify vulnerabilities and take steps to mitigate them.
  • Aim to provide an organization with a safe and secure IT environment.
  • Are part of each other—when a vulnerability is identified, one of the remedial actions could be to apply a patch.

However, the scope of patch management is often narrower. It’s mainly focused on maintaining up-to-date systems and software.

Vulnerability management includes both prevention and detection activities, and it can be performed manually or automatically through software tools that scan for vulnerable systems.

It looks at how people, processes, and technology all interact with one another from a security perspective.

A Unified Shield for Enterprise Security

Patch management and vulnerability management are two closely related security processes. While they differ in scope and approach, they are deeply interconnected.

While businesses might know about these dangers, most organizations still employ various security tools and products from different vendors, each having different interfaces.

Organizations need a unified platform that allows them to easily define and enforce consistent security policies across all applications and devices — while also providing real-time visibility into potential risks across the network.

Teams say that using one platform for patch and vulnerability management allows them to leverage their Security Operations Center (SOC) experts and other IT members.

A unified platform combines the best of both worlds:

  • Automation and customization.
  • Better coordination among teams, reducing the likelihood of overlooking crucial patches or vulnerabilities.
  • Reduced costs when other tools aren’t needed for patch and vulnerability management.

Cybersecurity is an ever-evolving challenge. A unified platform does more than just adjust to this changing landscape. It’s a bold move to reinforce your infrastructure with improved resilience and efficiency.

Find out how Syxsense can help you with a unified security and endpoint management platform. Schedule a demo today.