Patch management is the process of identifying, testing, deploying, and installing software patches (or updates) to computers. A software patch is a piece of code, tailored to fix existing bugs/vulnerabilities in the software, add new features, or enhance its security.
In general, the software patch management process includes scanning computers in the network for missing patches, testing them in a test group of machines, and deploying them manually or automatically via patch management tools. Once the software patches have been deployed and installed, it is crucial to audit and generate reports to ensure high patch compliance in the network.
Speaking about the importance of patch management, we have seen that a software patch not only adds newer functionalities but also fixes existing bugs/vulnerabilities in the software. Hence, a proper patch management strategy prevents threat actors from exploiting the systems by keeping them updated with the latest patches.
This section talks about:
Now that we have a basic idea about what is patch management, let's dig in deeper. There are various kinds of patches, each tailored to suit specific needs and address specific issues. While some are designed for bug fixes to enhance security, others add features to the software. Patches can be broadly classified into the following three categories:
The number of ransomware attacks is increasing exponentially with each passing day. For organizations with multiple servers and computers, ensuring that all of them are updated can be both time-consuming and challenging. Trying to manually manage these patches is not only hectic but also a major risk for businesses. That being said, here are some key reasons that state the importance of patch management:
While installing patches is a crucial step, installing them the second they are available can wreak havoc on endpoints. This is why it's highly recommended you create a strategic approach that strikes a fine balance between the time to patch and patch prioritization.
Here are the five steps for an efficient patch management process:
Manually updating patches and keeping tabs on reports is an impossible task. When an organization grows, applying patches manually becomes increasingly difficult and impractical, paving the way for critical errors. This is why it's best to opt for patch management solutions that offer a central console featuring patch deployment, reporting, and customizations.
There are several instances wherein certain software patch (or patches) have caused system instability and crashes. As a result, it is highly recommended to test the patches in a pilot group of endpoints before they are deployed to the production machines. As a best practice, the pilot group of endpoints must have all the same flavors and operating system versions being used in the network.
Sorting the patches and the endpoints you need to patch by priority is yet another important step for an efficient patch management process. It is best to practice patch deployment in the endpoints in groups and not as a whole. Moreover, patches should be deployed based on their severity, with critical patches being the top priority.
Manual patching of all the endpoints in an organization is a repetitive task that demands time and labor, causing productivity drops. In addition, it increases the overall time to fully patch every endpoint in the organization, leaving more room for exploitation by threat actors. Automating the entire patch management process and using a patching tool for your organization ensures faster response times, enhanced security, and improved productivity.
Tracking the progress and failure of the patch deployments in the network and keeping a record is crucial. Generating and maintaining reports helps with assessing the patch compliance of the network.
Patching endpoints regularly can keep cyberattacks at bay to a large extent. Here are a few patch management best practices that we recommend you follow:
A study by the Ponemon Institute, the Costs and Consequences of Gaps in Vulnerability Response, states that it takes 16 days on average to patch a critical vulnerability once detected.
Say goodbye to tedious downloads and manual installations with automated patch deployment. From scanning missing patches to installing them on the respective endpoints, automated deployments are not just easy, but accurate and fast.
As many as 72% of respondents in the same Ponemon study reported difficulties in prioritizing patches.
With a critical-updates-first approach, admins can sort and act on the patches that need to be installed immediately. This reduces the threat response time and ensures efficient patch management.
With scheduled auto-deployment of patches, your endpoints will keep receiving regular patch updates as and when released. Our experts recommend scheduling deployments twice a week to allow proper testing and approval of patches.
While it's essential to patch endpoints as soon as possible, admins also have to ensure continued user productivity. With flexible deployment policies in place, users can choose to postpone updates if the update conflicts with their business-critical tasks.
How do you find the best patch management software for your organization? The answer depends on the features that you're looking for. Every business has its own set of demands, but there are a few common traits most organizations want to see in patch management software.
The patch management tool should:
If you're looking for an affordable patch management solution that offers everything listed above, look no further; Patch Manager Plus offers all these features to help keep your network patched and secured, all from one, central location. This patch management tool is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux and offers a Free edition for up to 25 devices. In addition, it also provides server patch management to help keep data secure and up to date.
Server patch management involves testing and patching physical and virtual servers with little to no downtime. This free patch management software gives you access to all the essential features required to patch your systems. This patch management solution can secure your entire infrastructure.
ManageEngine's flagship patching software - Patch Manager Plus is available both as an on-premises and on-cloud solution. With remote jobs changing the way IT operates, you can perform patching on the go with Patch Manager Plus Cloud.
Server patch management (or server patching) - as the name suggests is the systematic deployment of patches to prevent servers from being exploited by vulnerabilities and external threat actors. For organizations and enterprises, server patch management is a critical task since the allotted server maintenance time is usually very less, as to prevent productivity drops.
With an automated patching software, not only can you automate the entire workflow but also ensure that the patches are tested and approved before deployment so as to prevent any anomalies. Refer here to know more about server patching.
ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus follows these six steps in its patch management process: synchronizing, scanning, downloading, testing, deploying approved patches to their respective computers, and generating reports.
For details on each of these steps, simply keep reading:
Patch management is the process of identifying, testing, deploying, and installing software patches (or updates) to computers thereby preventing them from being exploited by threat actors.
Software patches are generally of three types, i.e. Security patches, Bug fix patches, and Feature update patches.
A proper patch management process mitigates bugs/vulnerabilities in the software by updating them with the latest patches/versions available. This prevents the systems from being exploited via software vulnerabilities by threat actors.
A software patch is a piece of code, tailored to fix existing bugs/vulnerabilities in the software, add new features, or enhance its security.
Software patches are generally of three different types, i.e. Security patches, Bug fix patches, and Feature update patches.
The difference between a software patch and an update is that a software patch specifically fixes vulnerabilities in the software. However, an update can include newer features, enhancements as well as bug fixes.
Patch management is used to identify, test, deploy, and install software patches (or updates) to computers thereby preventing them from being exploited by threat actors.
The software patch management process includes scanning computers in the network for missing patches, testing them in a test group of machines, and deploying them manually or automatically via patch management software.
A patch management tool is a software that identifies, tests, deploys, and installs software patches (or updates) to computers either manually or via automated methods. It also aids in generating reports to audit and monitors patch compliance in the network.
The steps in patching are:
Microsoft releases security patches for its operating systems (such as Windows 10) and other products (Office and so on) on the second Tuesday of every month, known as Patch Tuesday. This is an example of patch management.