Why Worry About Patch Management Policy?
Cybercrime is only getting worse. While managed service providers work to eliminate threats and reduce risk, cybercriminals are quick to change gears and develop new ways to exploit secure information systems. Targeted attacks can find the smallest seam in common applications and quickly gain access. Here is why patch management is so important:
The WannaCry attack in 2017 was one of the largest data breaches in history, infecting over 200,000 computers in 150 countries. In the same year, the credit reporting service Equifax exposed the financial data of 143 million Americans. These two events had two things in common:
- The attackers exploited vulnerabilities in servers operating Windows 7 and Windows 8.
- A fix for these vulnerabilities was made available in the months preceding the attacks, but the organizations failed to update their software.
While patch management services might not be the most provocative element of cybersecurity, they are one of the most essential. Operating systems and common applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe, and Java do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to network access, but this also makes them easy targets for cyberattacks.
Technology vendors are doing their part to discover and fix vulnerabilities as soon as possible while making sure their software can withstand the latest exploits. The malicious code that exploited the WannaCry vulnerability was in the wild for more than a month before the attack occurred.
Attacks like this may be costly and disruptive for businesses, but they are also lessons for managed service providers like SBT Partners that want to protect their clients with strategic guidance and tactical measures. Patch management-as-a-service based on automatic updates is how we close the door to malware.
This blog will review the goals of patch management, how often your systems should be patched, and the essential elements of a successful patch management program.
What Does Patch Management Do?
The goal of a patch management policy is updating software to address known and potential vulnerabilities. A patch is essentially a piece of code that alters an existing program to do one of four things:
- Fix common problems
- Introduce new features
- Improve an application’s stability
- Remediate a security vulnerability
An effective patch management policy gives organizations total control over their data while providing a swift response to worldwide cyber events and new risks. A fully documented patch management policy is required by most major industry regulations, including HIPAA and PCI DSS.
Effective patch management…
…can prevent up to 85% of potential cyberattacks.
How Often Should You Perform Patch Management?
Patches are most effective when installed as soon as they become available, which makes their management a time-sensitive action. Most regulations have a required time frame:
- PCI DSS: 1-3 months of patch release
- NIST SP 800-171: As often as possible
- HIPAA: As soon as they become available
Since deploying patches is essential, businesses should conduct at least some form of reporting or scanning daily. These scans can be automated to find and install updates and check for flaws in the system.
The second part of a vulnerability and patch management program is more detailed assessments done monthly or bi-weekly to make sure all the devices in your network are fully up to date.
What Does Applying Software Patches Protect You From?
Security Threats – The critical reason to apply software patches is the way software vendors keep their products secure from major cyber threats. In addition, patches make security between applications seamless.
Downtime – Patches reduce the number of crashes and downtime, which eat into productivity.
BYOD Risk – Employees who use their own devices create a security risk, but an effective patching policy installs updates across all devices regardless of their physical location.
Obsoletion – New functionality can unlock an application’s full potential, and the only way to make sure you’re using a program to its full potential is to keep your systems updated.
Patch Management Services Are an Important Element of Complete Cybersecurity
Our vulnerability and patch management program mitigates the risk of data breaches and performance issues by standardizing and automating your patch management processes across your entire organization. If you operate without a patch management program or if you update your systems irregularly, SBT Partners will automate the entire process as part of our total cybersecurity approach.
We start by defining a baseline for compliance. This is the bare minimum your business needs to get by. From there, we determine the minimum versions of business applications that need to be in place, and we identify the gaps between the process and the required result.
We make sure we understand the risks associated with the various applications you use, then develop contingency plans to reduce the number of disruptions that updating can cause. We take a close look at how secure your remote employees are and how frequently they update their software. Finally, we make sure every stakeholder in your company is aware of the importance of patch management and their role in keeping your vital business data safe.
At SBT, we give our clients the mission-critical security that locks down their data. We provide a broad range of cybersecurity tools that keep your network safe from all external threats. Through security and vulnerability tests, employee training (for issues such as phishing attacks), and maintaining your critical infrastructure, we can help you avoid conflicts and keep your data out of harm’s way. We offer:
- Vulnerability Assessments
- Risk Management
- Application Security Testing
- Compliance Assessments and Management
Reach out today for more information about our cybersecurity and patch management services.