Patch Management Tips and Tricks

By January 26, 2018 Business Intelligence

Did you know that more than 80% of data breaches are a result of inadequate patch management? Furthermore, last year’s ransomware attacks also demonstrated just how far behind many organizations are when it comes to installing the latest security patches on their systems.

Hackers rely on the fact that many organizations don’t bother to keep their systems up to date. That’s why most malware attacks rely on exploits that could have easily been prevented by updating systems regularly. To overcome these serious issues, you’ll need to implement a robust patch management strategy.

#1. Know Your Network

It takes only one security hole to compromise an entire network. That’s why it is so important to constantly look out for the weakest link. Patch management considers your entire network by bringing every connected device together in a centralized inventory.

To have any hope of keeping control over security, you’re going to need a clear view of your entire network infrastructure, including servers, computers, mobile devices, printers, backup and storage systems, and any IoT devices. Patch management starts with a complete inventory of all your hardware, software and operating systems to ensure there are no blind spots.

#2. Release Patches in Phases

One of the most common reasons for businesses to take a lax approach to patches is that they’re worried about them causing unnecessary disruption. However, that’s simply not a good-enough reason, especially when your systems could be exposed to a potentially disastrous data breach.

While it might not be practical to release a set of patches all in one hit, it is essential that you prioritize your updates and ensure that any critical security patches are implemented immediately. Things like feature updates can be safely postponed until your next maintenance period, but you’ll need to make sure any security-related patches are installed as soon as possible.

#3. Use Automation

Manually updating dozens or even hundreds of computers, along with a multitude of other machines is a monumental task that typically requires a dedicated team of experts. Furthermore, manually applying your patch management strategy also leaves everything open to human error. And as we’ve discussed already, it takes only one error to expose your whole network.

By automating patch management using a centralized system that keeps track of all networked devices, you’ll be able to optimize workflows and schedule the implementation of patches based on their importance.

#4. Stay Informed

Ultimately, it’s human ignorance that’s the weakest link in any security strategy, and that’s why it’s so important to stay informed of the risks. After all, you should never take your technology for granted and assume that all vulnerabilities will always be patched automatically without any intervention from the end user. Business leaders should always stay informed about the latest trends and threats facing their organizations; that way, they can take the necessary steps to proactively guard against them.

#5. Have a Backup Plan

While having a controlled patch rollout and using automation to ensure that your patch management goals are met is important, things can still go wrong. Automation does save time and money, but there’s no such thing as a perfect solution.

That’s why your patch management solutions should also be able to roll back any updates. It’s a feature you’ll never want to use, of course, but you’ll always want to have it just in case. The ability to roll back to earlier versions, at least temporarily, will give you time to resolve compatibility issues and any misconfigurations without significantly disrupting your business.

Truewater serves small- and medium-sized businesses to provide the IT services and expertise they need to get more out of technology. Call us today if you’re looking for support that your organization can depend on.

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Truewater was established in 2001 with the vision of bringing enterprise class IT support to small and medium sized businesses.