Patch Management Essentials

Automate Patch Management

Introduction

Nowadays, every app contains vulnerabilities that affect the app’s performance, security, and productivity. Fortunately, we can quickly rectify these vulnerabilities via patches. But with the number of apps increasing, it becomes tough to apply patches manuallyWith patch management, we can apply these patches efficiently. But if you automate patch management, the repetitive tasks of scanning, downloading and deploying patches become easier.
 

“Automate Patch Management?” What is it?

 
Automated patch management is the process of automatically checking for patches and applying them. Patch management includes scanning, downloading, and deploying missing patches. With automation, each of these processes becomes a simple routine.
 
With automatic patching, the patch management process becomes simpler and helps lessen the load on the IT admins. It also provides other benefits that can improve the quality of life of the user and the IT team.
 

How to automate Patch Management?

 
In very simple terms, there are mainly two ways of automating patch management, i.e., with scripts and with tools.
 
Scripts are a piece of code that repeatedly perform a process. And here, the process is downloading and deploying patches. But this process is difficult and error-prone, and you need a lot of technical knowledge to perform it.
 
script for automation

                                                             It looks complicated, right?

But patch management tools, on the other hand, are easy to use, and typically IT teams use patch management tools with automation features already present. While these patch management vendors with advanced capabilities are far and few between, it is not very uncommon. By configuring some settings and with a click of a button, your patch management becomes completely automated, and it is the easiest method of managing patches. And it’s way easier to work with as well.
 
automated patching dashboard
                                                                            This looks better!
 
Some IT teams also use 3rd party patch automation software to configure and schedule updates. It is beneficial when a company is not using a patch management tool, or the vendor isn’t offering automation.
 
For Windows, patch automation vendors and patch management tools usually use SCCM or WSUS to automate the patches.
 
While Linux and Mac don’t have in-built tools like SCCM or WSUS, automation vendors directly connect to the respective patch servers and patch them.
 

Why do we automate patch management?

 
With all the benefits of patch management like network security and reduced risk of cyberattacks, patch automation provides other benefits like:
 

1. Stronger endpoint security: 

An obvious advantage of automated patch management is it helps reduce the attack surface. It reduces the risk of cyberattacks by continuously patching, leading to a lower attack surface. New vulnerabilities are updated every day, and manual patching applications become nearly impossible.

 

2. Improve the efficiency of Manpower and cut unnecessary costs: 

When IT teams automate patch management, they reduce the time spent on mundane tasks. Instead, they can focus on tasks that need manual attention. Automatic patching is especially beneficial when a smaller IT team is overburdened with lots of devices.
 

3. Reduce downtime of IT assets: 

With automated patches during off-hours, IT assets will not have any downtime during office hours. After scheduling patches, sysadmins only have to verify the status of the patch instead of manually doing it. It can help the business continuity and improve the productivity of the users.
 

4. Improved patching accuracy: 

 Without human interference, the errors while patching drastically decrease. Automated patch management helps improve the patching accuracy and reduces the chance of devices becoming non-functional.
 
 

Manual vs. Automatic Patching:

While complete patch automation can be advantageous, it is still not perfect. Both manual and automated patching have benefits and shortcomings.
 

1. Ease of execution: 

Manual patching becomes very difficult when the number of devices increases. It also increases the chances of errors in the deployment of patches. With automation, mundane, repetitive tasks become easier, and manual resources can be utilized elsewhere. Since there is no human input involved, the chances of errors occurring decrease considerably.
 

2. Strength of Security: 

Manual patching is not continuous, as it’s just not feasible. So, when a new vulnerability is discovered, it can’t be instantly patched. This leads to a gap in the security process, which can be devastating to an organization. With automation, scans can be continuous, and we can apply patches as soon as a patch is available. So, without the gap, security strengthens, and the chance of cyberattacks occurring reduces by a lot.
 

3. Feasibility of patching: 

Manual patching is a time-consuming process that needs a little bit of handholding. In contrast, automatic patching can be set and forgotten. While manual patching does provide a little more control over patching, the advantage of patch automation far outweighs it. The lengthy monitoring in manual patching limits IT admins from performing more critical tasks that need an observant eye.
 

Automatic Patching with SanerNow Automated Patch Management

 
SanerNow is an advanced vulnerability management platform with robust vulnerability assessment and remediation capabilities. It integrates vulnerability scanning and patching to ensure a strong defense for your organization against cyberattacks.
 
With SanerNow’s automated patch deployment feature, deploying patches to all the devices and applications installed in them becomes very easy.
 
With a click of a button, you can automate patch management into a routine. This can occur either daily or weekly, or it’s customizable according to the users’ needs. After scheduling the patches, SanerNow automatically scans, downloads, and applies missing patches, all in one single swoop.
 
Schedule and automation of patches 
But SanerNow also provides custom settings for each of these steps as well. From customizing the duration of the patch, prioritizing patches based on criticality, and running scripts pre and post-patch, you can set it to fit your organization perfectly.
 
 
SanerNow can automatically patch all major OS patches and over 300+ 3rd party applications. This helps reduce the attack surface continuously and strengthen your organization’s defense.
 

Conclusion:

 
Automation is the future, and implementing automated patching can go a long way in protecting your network. With a slew of other benefits and a few shortcomings, it helps to have a tool that can help tackle patching when the number of devices increases.
 
But equally important is to correctly configure and automate patches to ensure smooth patching occurs.