What is Patch Management?
Patch Management is the process of detecting, downloading, testing, approving and installing new/missing patches for all the Operating Systems and applications within a network.

Patch management entails having a centralized view on the applicable patches for endpoints across a network, so that Vulnerable, Highly Vulnerable and Healthy Systems can be classified at a glance. This helps spot the systems that need attention so that appropriate measures can be taken to keep the network safe from cyberattacks.

Patches can be broadly categorized into three types:
  1. Hotfixes/Bugfixes: These address software bugs and enhance performance/functionality.
  2. Security Patches: These fix security vulnerabilities in software.
  3. Upgrades/Service Packs: These are released as an accumulation of bug fixes, enhancements, security patches and drivers(if any) since last upgrade.

Why is Patch Management Required?

Cyber crime has increased exponentially in the past decade, with hackers becoming more and more creative and coming up with new ways to exploit vulnerabilities. One of the most common entry points for these attacks are unpatched systems. Every time a security patch is released, the attackers become aware of a new vulnerability that can be exploited (in unpatched systems) and they start probing networks for the weakness.

Since only 38% of the organizations are prepared for a cyberattack, such vulnerable networks are easy to come across and exploit. This is why an effective patch management solution is required, to keep networks safe from cyber attacks and prevent data breaches. System administrators need to ensure that all the endpoints in their network are up-to-date and have no performance issues, so that everyone can make an efficient use of the time and resources available to them, safely and securely. To summarize, if endpoints are left unpatched in a network, it will lead to:

  • Missing out on new features and resources
  • Reduced performance
  • Systems being vulnerable to attacks

Advantages of Patch Management

An IT admin who manages 1000 endpoints will have countless things to keep track of and patches will be on the top of the list. When an IT admin is handling numerous endpoints with multiple operating systems, it translates to diverse applications that will require patching. Patch Management facilitates an admin to handle patches based on the threats and their severity for individual operating systems from a centralized location.

  • The obvious advantage of patching is security. Cyber threats are not a thing of the past. Security patches are indispensable to a company as they keep networks safe from attacks and data theft.
  • Apart from security fixes, patches may also contain new features or enhancements for existing applications thereby keeping the software up to date. This also, in turn, improves productivity.
  • Patch management helps in boosting the productivity of the company. Patching reduces the downtime caused by unpatched applications hence improving productivity.
  • It also helps a company in achieving compliance with security laws.

Why is Patching so difficult?

Today, organisations have an ever increasing number of endpoints across diverse platforms and each device has a unique set of applications installed on it. Given the sheer number of patches released every day, it's no wonder that system administrators struggle to keep the devices in their network up to date and patched.

It requires them to first detect the patches that are released and download it from the vendor's website, then figure out which version of the software it is applicable to and install it on test devices. If the test devices are stable, they then need to install it on the systems that are eligible for the patch. This process is tedious and time consuming for just one patch and it's almost impossible to do this manually for a large, diverse network even if multiple resources are allocated. This is why you need a patch management solution which automates everything from detecting new patches to installing them on the eligible endpoints.

How does Desktop Central Help?

Patch Management Dashboard

Desktop Central has a completely automated patch management solution for Windows, Mac, Linux and third party applications. DC Server maintains a central database of applicable patches across a network. Based on the missing patches, the systems are classified as Vulnerable, Highly Vulnerable and Healthy so that you can easily single out the ones that need attention and install the missing patches at the earliest to deflect cyber attacks and protect your network from data breaches.