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- What is patch management?
- Why is patch management so important?
- What are the challenges in patch management?
- Focus on: automated patch management.
- What are the benefits of automated patch management?
Cyberattacks and technological vulnerabilities are increasingly threatening companies of all sizes, all over the world. With the rise of remote working, if your organisation has multiple servers, other IT systems and services (including Cloud services) and staff operating from several different locations – ensuring your systems are fully secured and updated can become a complex and time consuming task.
It’s a vital job however, and this is where patch management comes in…
When properly done.
Patch management can help your organisation solve software issues compromising cybersecurity as well as improving compliance and workplace efficiency.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what patch management software is, why it’s so important – and crucially, why automating your processes matters.
Let’s get started…
1. What is patch management?
Patch management is simply the process of deploying important software updates – or “patches”. It covers the process of coordinating patching, including rollout and monitoring software updates across an organisation.
This could (and should) apply to a company’s entire range of individual computers, mobile devices, servers and other IT systems and services. Common areas requiring attention include applications, operating systems and embedded technology like network equipment.
Patches themselves are updates provided by software developers, created to fix security vulnerabilities or technical issues. They can also provide new features and functions for applications.
Generally speaking. Patches are short-term solutions to ensure stability and security. They can often fill a much-needed gap before full software updates are released.
2. Why is patch management important?
Proper patch management ensures your technology is less susceptible to exploitation through ransomware and malware. It’s one of the most important cybersecurity functions and should be a core component of any organisation’s IT activities.
According to the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, tech vulnerabilities (especially related to the Internet of Things and Cloud Computing) expanded massively during 2021. It’s now a key vector of cyberattacks, at a similar level with “phishing”.
With cybercrime constantly evolving, patch management is an essential line of defence.
In addition to cybersecurity.
Just some of the benefits effective patch management provides are:
- Performance: patching addresses performance issues preventing apps or systems functioning properly – improving your staff and systems efficiency.
- Stability: if one software item crashes, the chances are it will impact multiple functions within your organisation. Patches are often geared towards solving incompatibility issues and reducing overall downtime.
- Compliance: with cybercrime such a common occurrence, organisations are often required to maintain certain levels of compliance by regulatory bodies. Patching is a key part of this, helping your organisation avoid fines or reputational damage.
- Functionality: patching goes beyond just security vulnerabilities, and also helps with feature and functionality updates (and the installation of new software) – so you always have the latest tech.
3. What are the challenges in patch management?
It’s clear patch management is a vital business function.
Nonetheless, there are some commonly faced challenges when implementing patch management processes. These include:
- Lack of visibility into network assets and software, especially with hybrid or remote teams.
- Problems prioritising which patches to apply and when to do this.
- Difficulties remotely managing this process and no formal patching policies.
- The sheer amount of time it takes to manually investigate and deploy patches.
To avoid issues such as this arising in the first place, organisations are increasingly turning to automated patch management, which is typically configured and managed by an in-house IT expert or an external IT Support company.
4. Focus on: automated patch management.
Automated patch management is… you guessed it, the process of distributing patches automatically! Whilst this definition may sound a little obvious, it still requires human interaction for optimal performance.
Instead of IT system admins spending hours distributing patches manually however, an automated patch management process pro-actively intelligently distributes patches and helps prioritise fixes.
This simplifies the process of maintaining systems and applications, by automating scans to check devices and determining what patches are required within your organisation. After this, automated deployment will then send out the appropriate patches to all relevant devices.
Once patches are deployed, automated patch management software can report on the status of all relevant tasks, allowing a more complete overview of apps and devices.
5. What are the benefits of automated patch management?
Automated patch management has several benefits, chief among which are faster and more efficient patching.
Automated patch management can be scheduled to run overnight (or at convenient times for your company) further reducing down-time and staff costs. In general, the best automated patch management tools enable automatic scheduling, patching and management – whilst still enabling user freedom to pause, prioritise and resume updates as necessary.
Automated patch management tools should also provide detailed reporting for compliance and auditing purposes. As well as the cybersecurity benefits, this is a vital aspect of automated patch management – further saving your business time and money. Machines that aren’t receiving patch updates (either offline or avoiding patches) will be highlighted, enabling either manual or automatic processing to remove any vulnerabilities.
Just some of the key benefits of automated patch management include:
- Regular updates: reducing manual errors or omissions.
- Strengthening network security: via rapid, comprehensive and prioritised patches.
- Quickly identify vulnerabilities: IT administrators have an easily-accessible overview of your whole business environment.
- Increased productivity: with improved features and functionality, as well as less systems downtime and IT problems across your entire workforce.
- Enhanced compliance: with additional reporting for the latest security regulations.
If you’ve never faced a security or large-scale IT incident, you may not appreciate the fundamental importance of patch management. Nonetheless, automated patch management is a vital business process. It ensures IT vulnerabilities and inefficiencies are a thing of the past; saving your business time, money and preventing reputational damage.