The Evolution of Patch Management in Enterprise Security

You’ve got a new patch.

But do I have to apply it? Can I wait until next week? (Or the next?) Is it that serious?How critical your patch is may vary. It might be the update that stops hackers from exploiting a vulnerability for full control.

If you’re not sure what patching is: when a software vendor discovers vulnerabilities in their product, they release a patch to fix those issues. They identify security holes in software and update them with a new version that closes those holes. 

Patches can be applied on your laptop, desktop, cell phone, or video game system.

The best way to protect your network is to stay current with patches.

Patching is just one way to mitigate known vulnerabilities and thwart potential network breaches, but it’s one of the most effective.

The way patches are applied and managed in the enterprise has evolved, but some misconceptions persist, such as:

  • “Patching is complicated and time-consuming.”
  • “If it’s not broken, no need to fix it.”
  • “This needs deep technical knowledge.”
  • “We can’t handle the downtime… so maybe next month… or next quarter.”

What was once slow, administrative, and even annoying, is now automated, easier, and handled for you.

The Smart Way to Inventory and Monitor a Fleet of Devices

You can’t patch unless you know what device you have.

And you can see how out of control that gets when you have hundreds or thousands of devices. 

Which ones need to be patched to keep them safe?

If you’re managing a fleet of devices, you don’t have time to waste on manually identifying and patching them.

Teams are using solutions that let them see everything in one place, and quickly find which devices are out of date or vulnerable. Because critical security patches are speeding beyond monthly patch timetables, teams are relying on continuous monitoring more than ever.

Once teams know what devices are being used, they can automatically deploy patches to each device—no matter where they are.

Implementing a patch management strategy is not a one-time process. Vulnerabilities don’t run on a schedule. And they most certainly don’t run on yours. Without a systematic approach to patch management, your most important updates may not be applied on time.

Before You Deploy a New Patch Release…

Your new patch is available for deployment. 

But first, it’s time to test the new patch in a controlled environment, preferably a carbon copy of where it’s set to go live. 

Are there any problems with the patch that could disturb how the system works? 

After testing and approval, the patch can be deployed to all relevant systems.

We can’t pretend to know what kind of vulnerability you’re facing, but it’s safe to say that it’s not one you want to ignore. Not all patches require your immediate attention, but some do.

Some patches address critical vulnerabilities with immediate risks, while others fix less severe issues. Prioritizing patches by vulnerability severity lets you take on the major threats first.

Using a vulnerability scanner assess software for weaknesses that could be breached by an attacker. Running a scan helps you prioritize what needs to be patched first—usually based on your organization’s risk management plan and how critical each system’s function is.

Patching Yesterday vs Today: Which Is Really Better?

What is broken, doesn’t have to take long to fix.

And what isn’t broken, can still be looked after without devoting any overtime. 

No more feeling like you’re stuck in the past when:

  • You don’t have to guess what needs to be patched. 
  • Downtime doesn’t have to drag into weeks or months because you put off the next update. 
  • You take the proactive approach that saves you time and resources.

There are only so many hours in the day. Teams of all sizes and expertise automate their patching process free up time to focus on more challenging parts of the job. In security, there’s always a different problem tomorrow. Scheduling patching (or service management and software installs) shouldn’t be one of them.