Patch Timing: If you have to ask, you’re probably behind

As you take steps to improve your security, you must also gauge the impact of new vulnerabilities.

Also consider: as the number of vulnerabilities increases, so do the costs associated with fixing them.

It’s a notable concern for organizations on a global scale.

According to a recent survey released, a whopping 78% of organizations have seen a rise in vulnerability volume in the past year. What did they see?

More exploitable vulnerabilities in software, which are often taken advantage of by cybercriminals for malicious intent. 

  • 38% of respondents noticed an increase of up to 25%.
  • 25% witnessed a surge of 26% – 50%. 
  • 15% of organizations reported a staggering increase of 51% or more in their vulnerability volume. 

All of this indicates a tougher cybersecurity landscape. The increase in the number of vulnerabilities, often exploited by cybercriminals for malicious intent, underscores the critical importance of vulnerability detection and management. Hackers are constantly looking for weaknesses or flaws in IT systems. One of the most common reasons why organizations are hacked is because they don’t have strong vulnerability management. Without it, you have a very fuzzy view of what’s going on with your endpoints. What risk do they have? Which ones are more of a priority to remediate than others? (Not all risk is equal.) One of the most overlooked vulnerabilities comes from human error, procrastination, and delays.

But there is an easy way to combat it.

Timing Is Everything with Patching

How long does it take to patch? Is this patch update important? How long will it take to fix software with a patch?

These are the risk-based questions security and IT teams consider. Patching times, the delay between finding a vulnerability and applying a fix, pose a significant risk.

If you’re responsible for finding all of the vulnerabilities in your company’s security, then you’re probably already a little overwhelmed. It only gets harder when you add hundreds or even thousands of work devices. 

If it takes too long to patch, this can leave the system vulnerable and may even allow an attacker to enter without anyone noticing.

Organizations, on average, are slow to patch vulnerabilities.

 According to a recent vulnerability management report:

  • 10% of survey respondents said they took anywhere from 3 months to 1 year to deploy security patches. 
  • 25% noted that they patched within 1 month of the patch’s release. 

In Verizon’s 2023 Data Breach Incident Report, cybersecurity experts noted that the average time to patch was 49 days. Why so long?

Patching is a critical part of the cyber security process, but there are barriers to knowing or understanding when it’s time to patch. It could be a “it’s not broke, so let’s not fix it” assumption. Or problems with finding the time or people power.

What metric should organizations use that tells them when it’s time to patch?

Staying Secure With Timely Patching Requirements

In 2021, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued Binding Operational Directive 22-01, requiring federal agencies to patch or remediate known exploited vulnerabilities within two weeks of notification. Two weeks minimizes a hacker’s “dwell time” and reduces the risk of and financial impact from a cybersecurity breach.

Extended delays in patching or remediation create opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities, risking damage to the organization’s systems and reputation.

So how do IT and security teams scan and patch hundreds of endpoints as quickly as possible?

How Can I Find and Apply Patches Faster?

Asking ‘Is it time to patch?’ could be costly.

According to a report by IBM, the average total cost of a data breach in 2021 is estimated to be $4.24 million. Costs continue to reach unprecedented levels due to remote work and heightened cyber threat sophistication.

It’s not just immediate financial losses, but also lasting reputational harm, extensive recovery, and the system reinforcements needed after a breach.

With the rising number of vulnerabilities, work devices, and third-party patches, teams are looking for automated patch and vulnerability management solutions that can give highlight potential attack vectors and close that gaps quickly with as little disruption to business operations. 

Along with regular, automated patch scanning, sophisticated teams are leveraging the same tool to run automated vulnerability scans to find additional security vulnerabilities that may put the company at risk. With one platform that shows them all affected devices, whether they have missing patches or vulnerabilities, teams can see across the IT and cyber spectrum to have a clearer view of their risk.

The process of handling your patches was once slow, administrative, and even annoying. But now? Organizations are shrinking their security risk, protecting their systems, data, and operational continuity. Automation isn’t just for big companies. It’s for small businesses, too. 

By taking these steps, organizations can significantly reduce their cyber risk, safeguard their systems and data, and ensure the continuity of their operations in the face of the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats.