Patch Management Essentials

Third Party Patching 

An efficient patch management solution is always crucial for IT organizations. Many organizations would have a patch management tool installed to look after their OS patches but are you also implementing third-party patching for applications?

You would have been familiar with supply-chain attacks. Most attackers targeted third-party applications as their loophole to exploit a vulnerability in organizations.  

So, what is third-party patching? And why is it important? 

What is third party patching? 

Generally, third-party applications are the ones that are provided by a vendor other than the manufacturer of the operating system. A few third-party applications include TeamViewer, 7-zip, Opera, Firefox, Evernote, etc. 

Third-party patching is installing patches to applications which are installed in your OSs to remediate vulnerabilities or fix bugs using best patch management tools.

Why do we need to patch third-party applications? 

For IT or sysadmins, ensuring the organization is up to date with all the latest patches is crucial. Most organizations would still rely upon the ‘Patch Tuesday’ updates (considering only windows), but what about the third-party applications? 

Patching third-party applications is equally important as other updates. Let’s say you have any 3rd party application installed in your OS, and they are not documented anywhere. There is a high chance it will act as a loophole for attackers to invade the organization’s security. That’s why applying patches using a patch management software is important. So, what benefits does patching third-party applications have? 

  • Security

    Cyberattacks are exponentially increasing, and attackers are finding more advanced ways to exploit vulnerabilities. Ignoring third-party patching of applications can only make your organization more prone to attacks.

    Therefore, always ensure that all OS and third-party application patches are up to date, strengthening your organization’s security. 

  • Efficiency:

    A few third-party patches contain many more features that can improve the application’s performance. Applying this kind of patch will definitely help in making the third-party application very efficient.

  • Productivity:

    You might have experienced situations where your devices/applications shut down unexpectedly. As a result, your productivity would suffer, as well as your unsaved work. For the best performance, constantly update applications with the latest non-security and security patches.

The outcome of neglecting to patch third-party applications 

Ignoring the third-party patching of applications will make your organization vulnerable to attacks.

Here are a few attacks that were caused due to 3rd party applications:

1. Third-party scripts attacks:  

When organizations use third-party applications, vendors would have scripts that can contain sensitive information. These scripts improve organization engagement rate, efficiency, and overall performance. 

This is a perfect loophole for attackers to invade an organization’s security. Attackers mainly focus on hacking 3rd party applications or faking themselves as a third-party vendor. This can be avoided by using third-party patching to these applications.

2. Accellion attack: 

Cybercriminals used third-party applications, in this case, file transfer applications, to initiate the attack. Attackers invaded organization networks with unpatched critical vulnerabilities and gained sensitive information such as social security numbers, banking information, etc. 

3. Clickstudios attack: 

The cyberattack was caused due to their password manager. Cybercriminals exploited app updates that resulted in stealing customers’ passwords through malware. 

These are just a few examples of data breaches caused due to third-party applications. There are an enormous number of attacks that compromise an organization’s security posture. All these attacks can be avoided by using a vulnerability management solution. 

Strategies to look out for while choosing third-party patch management tools 

1. Comprehensive inventory of third-party applications:

Third-party patch management tools should have a repository/database with up-to-date information about the installed third-party application and their versions. 

2. Accurate vulnerability scanner:

To know if there is a vulnerability present, an effective and precise vulnerability scanning tool should thoroughly scan your organization’s network and detect vulnerabilities. 

3. Regular patching schedule:

Have third-party patch management tools that can continuously scan and remediate vulnerabilities instantly.  

4. Automated:

Automating third-party patching from scanning to remediation will reduce manual efforts and save time. 

5. Reports:

Third-party patch management software should provide detailed reports that could be used to analyze your organization’s security posture performance. 

SanerNow’s Third-party patch management 

SanerNow patch management solution provides end-to-end automation patching for all major OSs and their variants. It also supports 350+ unique third-party application patching and is very effective. 

For third-party application patching, it has an in-built patch repository that contains all third-party patches, and there is no need to download the patches manually. If a third-party vendor releases new patches, they would be made available within 24-48 hours, pre-tested, and ready to be deployed. 

SanerNow is very simple, effective, and user-friendly. You can get everything in a unified console, which can also be deployed on the cloud or on-premises. Additionally, it has a wide range of reports that can be customized based on your requirements.