Patch fatigue is a term that’s buzzing amongst IT managers due to the devastating number of patches enterprises need to keep their environment safe and updated.

2016 IBM Security Report covered 18 years of patches with over 100,000 known vulnerabilities. Though only a few of these vulnerabilities affect each device in a network at any time, these security risks stack up fast. Patch fatigue has caught the notice of IT departments since it’s a tedious task, even with an insignificant environment.

In a recent study conducted by Tripwire, 500 US based-IT professionals about how they cope up with patching and the study revealed the following:

Patch Management is Time Consuming: Patch management can take hundreds of hours every month, regardless of how big or small the organization is or for hundreds and thousands of endpoints. If a patch requires the system to be restarted, lots of time will be lost in that process.

What to do: Post working hours where the business is affected the least, deploy a patch management tool that automates the patching process during maintenance windows. This way focus can be given on mission critical patches and also ascertain the most vulnerable areas. SecPod Saner provides visibility into missing patches. Updating applications with patches is the easiest way to prevent perpetrators from using vulnerabilities to exploit systems.

Saner provides access to the latest vendor patches that are tested by experts. With its capability to identify vulnerabilities and map appropriate patches to remove vulnerabilities, Saner automates the process of security patch management. This frees up considerable time for IT staff while knowing that patches on endpoint systems are up to date. Saner also provides crucial information on the severity of detected vulnerabilities which is useful in deciding whether or not to apply patches on critical systems. Saner makes Patch Management an easy task.

Beyond Microsoft and Operating Systems: The patching process is not only limited to Windows or other operating systems. Third-party applications also include patches and not every patch are created the same. Vendors like Java and Flash are the pain points most of the time whereas applications like WordPress are easy to update.

What to do: The patch management tool also works with major third-party vendors. Saner supports the use of third-party applications by employing an effective patch management solution. The patch management solution is offered as part of a complete endpoint management that can integrate with other capabilities through a combined method to patch and overall endpoint management. Combining the patches together will save time and resources if a department or collection of devices shares software that is alike.

The Troublemakers, Java and Flash: Java and Flash are bundled with other products and hence are two of the most crucial contributors to patch fatigue. Bundling products create version control issues since it’s problematic to identify which patches for Java and Flash are to be deployed to which devices.

What to do: Having an inventory tool is the finest way to manage this problem. Scanning each device thoroughly for the software and software version will permit proper patch deployment.

Organized Scheduling and Acute Fixes: Microsoft releases Patch Tuesday every second Tuesday of every month, providing updates for its catalog of products. This schedule has reduced the burden for many IT managers. Apple releases patch update on an irregular basis which creates a bigger challenge if the environment has numerous operating systems.

What to do: Create a schedule to implement the Patch release. One period during the month to patch devices will be apt. Circulating through groups or devices for less-critical patches helps spread the workload. Patching needs to take place regularly to prevent any hazard to network security.

Understanding the version: Updating the OS in two different fashions for Windows 10 is Microsoft’s new strategy. Long-term servicing branch (LTSB) is the popular Windows update with security updates and bug fixes. Customers can also use the current branch (CB) which includes new features. New features support end users but testing and possible system downtimes are the shortcomings.

What to do: Before updating to the CB conduct a test. Updating to the CB is unadvisable if the business has legacy applications knotted to the older OS versions.

Patching and Vulnerability Management: Vulnerabilities may continue to exist in the network even after patching and it is important to recognize where these prospective drawbacks occur, mainly in legacy applications and older versions of operating systems.

What to do: Patching is the initial phase for safeguarding a network. This is not the end to the work. Understanding the IT network thoroughly through precise reporting will detect areas of concern. Removing discontinued products will also help in alleviating various problems. Until devices update or patch themselves, the IT manager has to discover the best method to handle every difficult task and release the pain related with patch fatigue.

Saner simplifies vulnerability management to a daily routine. Saner helps keep endpoints secure by proactively assessing and remediating vulnerabilities. Search for ‘heartbleed’, get the list of all endpoints affected by this vulnerability in less than a second.  Saner performs detection and remediation throughout the network in a matter of minutes, ensuring all endpoint systems in the organization are free from vulnerabilities.

– Rini Thomas

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