Patch Management Essentials

What is Patch Management?

Patch management is the process of managing a network by scanning, testing, and deploying missed patches to software. Patches are needed to fix vulnerabilities (aka bugs or errors) in the software you use.

Applying patches to many devices in a network becomes cumbersome. Furthermore, if not done correctly, it can have dangerous consequences. Some applications might break or cause other applications to not work.

Patch management ensures that your apps’ patches are installed regularly and on time. When the number of devices increases, use tools to simplify the patching process. Great patching tools automate the manual task by scheduling patches. Rollback of patches is a must-have if an app breaks.

Why Do We Need Patch Management?  

Every day, we discover new vulnerabilities in OS or third-party applications. Vendors must ensure fixes to these vulnerabilities, usually in the form of patches. If not done continuously and properly, it can leading causes of cyberattacks.

Patches are critical as they reduce the attack surface of your IT and decrease the chance of a security breach. Patches also improve the app’s security, performance, and user experience.

  • Improving Organization’s Security: Attackers exploit new weaknesses in the application as soon as they are discovered. Patches fix vulnerabilities and installing patches as soon as they are released is vital.

  • Ease of Patch Application: As the number of devices and applications installed increases, it becomes difficult and time-consuming to apply patches to each one manually. Automated patch management streamlines the installation of patches, improving the speed and efficiency of the process instead of manually.

  • Bug Fixes & Improved Performance: Patching improves the application’s performance and keeps your applications regularly updated. Patches are essential, whether for quality of life or performance improvements.

The Steps of Patch Management

The patch management process can be divided into 5 simple steps for easier understanding. If done correctly, these steps simplify your parching process and improve your IT security. Let’s examine them one by one.

  1. Asset Discovery & Management: The first step is to understand which devices and network components to patch. With this visibility, you also get an understanding of the attack surface. Additionally, you gain information on the assets, the apps used, and other system information to understand the risks. Furthermore, this helps you perform the next steps of patch management better.

  2. Patch Detection & Vulnerability Mapping: Now that you know which assets you must patch, the next step is to detect the available patches. This includes checking for missing patches, going to the respective vendor, and downloading them. Further, by mapping the patch with the respective vulnerability understand the risk you are mitigating.

  3. Patch Prioritization: Some vulnerabilities need immediate attention. Once you download all the missing patches, you must prioritize which patch to apply first according to your requirements.

  4. Testing of Patches: Patches often break existing integrations and break systems. So, it is essential to test if a patch has a negative impact on your network. This step will help you avoid or fix the problems in case they happen.

  5. Deployment of Patches: The final step of the patch management process is to deploy the patch. This includes planning and scheduling when to deploy the patch, be it rolling out patches in a batch-wise approach or planning them according to the user’s working hours.

Benefits of patch management:  

  • Attack Surface Reduction for Strong Defense: The most obvious and essential benefit of patch management is security. Patches fix vulnerabilities, and efficiently patching your applications reduces the chance of cyber-attacks. Patching also reduces the attack surface, significantly decreasing the chances of cyberattacks. Furthermore, patches also ensure that your applications are up-to-date and free of vulnerabilities.
      
  • Improved Speed and Performance: Developers try to optimize their applications by releasing patches. Applications shouldn’t gobble your computer’s resources, and patches can fix these performance issues. The initial release might have unintended bugs affecting the app’s performance, so fixing them becomes crucial.
     
  • Achieving Continuous Compliance Standards: Regulatory bodies mandate that applications must be up-to-date. Patch management tools can help ensure your devices are compliant. Also, you save your money instead of getting fined as policymakers fine exorbitant amounts of money for non-compliance. And compliance allows for more robust security against cyber-attacks, so it becomes an added benefit of patch management.
     
  • Enhanced Productivity of the Users: If applications are not working as intended, it hinders the users’ productivity. Timely patches can ensure that the apps are working correctly and as intended. Patch management helps deploy patches regularly and ensure that the apps are working fine, improving the productivity of the user and the device.
     
  • Smoother User experience: Vendors release patches with many things in mind, and a great user experience is one of them. Patches also ensure the UI is up-to-date, and a patch management software can help users deploy these feature patches quickly. These patches might contain cosmetic changes to the app or internal changes that can provide some quality-of-life improvements to the app.
What is patch management benefits?
Fig 1: Benefits of Patch Management
 

Patch Management Solutions for Simplified Patching Process

Patch Management is considered complex, and organizations are always looking to simplify the process.

So, the patch management solutions are categorized into two types:

  • Patch Management Tools: Organizations typically deploy patch management tools. These tools integrate with existing cybersecurity solutions and detect missing patches for operating systems and third-party applications. Furthermore, they provide additional features like scheduling patches, automation, and more to ease the patching process.
  • Managed Service Providers: Organizations also use service providers(MSPs) who offer patch management as a service. This typically is an expensive alternative with a few benefits. MSPs offer an off-your-hands approach to patch management without worry. But at a cost.

So, comparing the two, using a patch management solution offers more benefits and is a better option overall.

Let’s take a quick look at patching with a patch management solution!

 

Patch management Using SanerNow:

Patch management becomes complicated when the number of applications and their patches rises. And manual patching is almost impossible as applications might break if not done correctly. 

With SanerNow, the entire patch management process becomes easier and simpler. SanerNow is an advanced vulnerability management platform with robust, integrated, and automated patch management capabilities.  

 Some of SanerNow’s patch management features are: 

  • End-to-end Automation: From scanning to the deployment of patches, SanerNow automatically does it all. SanerNow helps automate the difficult patching process by taking care of each step of the process. SanerNow can schedule regular scans to check for missing patches and automatically apply them using automated patch management tool. 
What is patch management automation
Fig 2: Patch Management Automation

 

  • Integrated Remediation: Most solutions either do vulnerability scanning or remediation and break the continuity in the vulnerability management process, decreasing the network’s efficiency and overall security. 
    SanerNow scans for vulnerabilities but doesn’t stop there. It also provides patches for the detected vulnerabilities to ensure the devices are safe.
What is patching remediation
Fig 3: Missing Patches
  • Cross-platform support: SanerNow supports all major OSs and 450+ 3rd party applications patching. It helps keep your apps up-to-date and helps reduce the attack surface of your device. New applications can be added on demand as well.
what is patching-missing patches
Fig 4: Most Critical Patches
  • Remote & Cloud-based console: SanerNow is an entirely remote and cloud-based platform. One centralized console to efficiently manage the entire patching process. This feature helps monitor, control, and protect your network from anywhere in the world.
  • Rollback: SanerNow facilitates patch rollback in case the patches hinder other apps or affect performance. It makes reverting to older versions very easy. It also helps in testing out patches in the test environment before its deployed organization-wide.
rollback of
Fig 5: Rollback
  • Firmware Updates: SanerNow supports firmware, OS, and 3rd party patches. It helps keep the device drivers up-to-date to ensure smooth performance and user productivity. Firmware patches affect the performance of the device and are very critical in improving the longevity and productivity of the device.
PM- firmware updates
Fig 6: Firmware
  • Reports: Insightful reports in SanerNow help monitor the IT infrastructure efficiently and make the audit process easier. SanerNow can create customizable, concise reports to provide detailed info on all your endpoint metrics.
PM report dashboard
Fig 7: Patching Impact Report

Contents

Add Your Heading Text Here