Exploiting security vulnerabilities in unpatched systems has become one of the leading causes of data breaches today. Cybercriminals are actively scouring networks searching for vulnerabilities in systems and applications to exploit. However, new vulnerabilities are not the only target. Hackers consistently prey on older, unpatched vulnerabilities, placing unsuspecting companies at greater risk of a data breach. Fending off these types of attacks is the job of an effective Patch Management strategy.
What is Patch Management?
Patch management is the process of identifying, testing, and deploying updates (patches) to components within your network. Patches are for operating systems (OS) and software applications existing on various endpoints, such as desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and servers, regardless of ownership or location. Software vendors release patches as a short-term solution to fix known security vulnerabilities or technical issues. Security patches may be combined with new features or functionality before their next scheduled full software release.
Why do you need Patch Management?
Reduce the risk of a vulnerability breach.
Cybercriminals know that many organizations fail to patch known flaws in a timely manner. Because of this, hackers will continually scan networks looking for security holes to exploit. Known as Scan-and-Exploit, these attacks were the leading initial attack vector in 2020, according to IBM's 2021 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index. The Scan-and-Exploit tactic overtook the top spot at 35%, surpassing phishing attempts that took the lead in 2019.
Improve your security posture and reduce downtime.
Keeping systems up-to-date and patched is critical for effective IT security hygiene. Adopting a patch management process that includes supplemental monitoring, detection, remediation tools, and processes that all work together will reduce the risk of a breach. Patches aren't just to plug security vulnerabilities. They also deliver important bug fixes. Bugs are errors in the program that can lead to frustrating system errors or downtime—both of which can impact employee productivity—something every company wants to avoid.
Address any compliance-driven requirements.
Your organization may have a requirement from the federal government, state, or regulatory body to have a patch management process in place. To avoid fines or penalties, employing a patch management strategy can help you stay in compliance with their regulatory rules. HIPAA, PCI, GLBA, NCUA, FINRA, SOX, and others require the protection of client information, which includes patching security vulnerabilities.
At Systems Engineering, we take patching very seriously, and provide timely notices for vulnerabilities that could cause significant disruption to businesses. IT Security vulnerabilities bring numerous risks and challenges for IT departments. Effective patch management requires a dedicated technical staff who can keep up-to-date on the latest security patches, maintaining the integrity of your network security.
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