What is Patch Management? Software Patching Explained by Pulseway

 Monday 22 June, 2020
What is Patch Management

Patch management refers to the process of keeping all endpoints and operating systems in an IT network up to date by installing the latest software patches. Software firms periodically release new updates or patches to their existing software to fix security vulnerabilities and other bugs. Patch management software is a centralized solution that automates the complex patching process and protects the IT environment - all from a unified point of control.

To incorporate an effective patch management strategy into their daily operations, managed service providers (MSPs) and internal IT departments need to be fully aware of the importance of patch management and understand that it does not need to be an onerous, time-consuming, manual process. Concerns about patching can be answered by understanding the benefits of using a patching solution, the features to look for in patch management software and the best practices involved in installing patches and how they can be automated.

In this article, we'll discuss the different aspects of patch management and why it is critical in avoiding security breaches.

Why you need patch management software

What is patch management? Why do you need patch management software? This can be best answered by fully understanding the cyberthreats looming over businesses today. Ransomware attacks are surging across the globe at an unprecedented rate. Cybersecurity Ventures has predicted that there will be a ransomware attack on businesses every 11 seconds by the year 2021. In this scenario, it is important for organizations to have the best security solutions in place.

Due to the sheer number of software updates being released every day, it is not only inefficient but also impossible for organizations to keep their systems up to date with a manual patching strategy. However, with a powerful patch management software, MSPs and IT admins can automate the complex process of patching and focus on other critical tasks.

Some of the key benefits of using patch management software are as follows:

With Patch Management softwareWithout Patch Management software
Protection from vulnerabilities caused by missing patches in operating systems and third-party software.SecurityYour IT environment is exposed to cyberattacks and other security threats attributable to outdated operating systems and third-party software.
Lower possibility of crashes and downtime caused by defective software. Hence, productivity levels are high.ProductivityUnforeseen crashes and downtime are likely and may result in lower productivity.
New features and functionalities are automatically added with software upgrades.Feature updatesThere is no possibility of incorporating new features and functionalities in existing software.
It ensures compliance with regulatory guidelines that mandate the application of the latest patches.ComplianceThere is a high chance of non-compliance with regulatory standards, which could result in hefty penalties.
Software updates can be easily automated so they can be quickly and correctly applied without any manual intervention.AutomationSoftware updates are impossible to automate, which leads to inefficiency and the possibility that critical patches will not be applied in time.

Features to look for in patching software

Choosing the right software is critical to the implementation of a strong patch management strategy. Your patch management software should have the following features to enhance cybersecurity in your organization.

  • Deployment and discovery: Your patch management software should be able to automatically discover all the endpoints and servers in your IT network and remotely deploy agents in these devices.
  • OS and Third-Party Software patching: Your patch management software should provide patching support to your OS as well as third-party software titles in your network. It should also support custom software titles that are unique to your IT network.
  • Mobile support: Since remote working has become the new normal across the world, mobile support should an essential feature of your patch management software. This helps technicians monitor patching tasks from anywhere and allows them to provide instant fixes just by using their smartphones.
  • Automation: With this feature, you can automate various routine tasks of your patch management process without any manual interruptions. This reduces the time spent patching while not compromising security.
  • Monitoring: It is important for technicians and IT admins to be aware of all the patching updates in their networks. Your patching tool should automatically monitor the network for outdated software and notify you when the patches are available.
  • Reporting: Your patching software should also have a reporting feature to automatically generate customized reports of all your patching tasks. This gives you a bird’s eye view of your IT infrastructure and helps you assess the health of your systems.

Best practices for using patch management

When you incorporate a patch management solution in your IT network, there are some best practices that need to be followed by everyone involved in the process. This is crucial in addition to understanding what is patch management. Patch management can help avoid major cybersecurity risks only if it is done the right way. The following best practices can help you avoid security vulnerabilities and manage software updates efficiently.

  • Know the importance of patching: Before you develop a patch management strategy, you need to be aware of the importance of patching and how it can help your IT network. It is essential to communicate the importance of patching to all employees in your organization and make it a critical part of your IT management activities.
  • Do patch testing: Patch management software can handle a range of operating systems and third-party software titles. However, there is a chance that some of your software titles are incompatible with your patching tool. You need to do a test run to be sure that all your patches are deployed properly.
  • Have a backup plan: An often overlooked part of the patch management strategy is having a backup plan for disaster recovery. On the off chance your patching solution fails, you need to have a disaster recovery plan in place to mitigate the damages caused by the breach.

Overcome security threats with patching

In this age of remote work and ransomware threats, an effective patch management strategy is critical for organizations of all sizes. By incorporating a strong patch management solution in your IT network, you can keep your operating systems and software up to date and mitigate the risks of a security breach.

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