When a vulnerability is identified in a system there are various ways to handle it either you can ignore it, replace it, or actually remediate it this remediation of a vulnerability is known as patching, and the process of adding patches to the existing software to fix the bug or updating it is called patch management.
Software patching is a crucial component of safeguarding your company and avoiding cyberattacks. As data breaches continue to dominate the headline it is important for an organization to patch the vulnerabilities or update their software continuously and if they don’t pay attention to this they might be leaving their organization open to attacks and may suffer from consequences.
Patch management is not only just adding patches to the system whenever it becomes available but it’s important to prioritize the patches and follow the best practice to achieve them as 57% of data breaches is due to poor patch management.
Your IT expert will have a thorough inventory if they have a solid understanding of the hardware architecture, operating systems, and third-party applications of the devices. This discovery will help them to pay attention to vulnerabilities and discover available patches.
- Categorize and Prioritize:
In this step, you should focus on categorizing your user and system by various risk level and accordingly prioritizing it. you also want to identify and prioritize the largest threats to your IT infrastructure.
- Creating Patch management policy:
After prioritizing the users and system which requires the most maintenance create a schedule for patching priority users and business-critical hardware. Patching your devices will ensure that users are up to date with the current changes in their code and data mitigating security vulnerabilities.
- Patch monitoring:
Each vendor distributes patches on different timetables, so it's crucial that your team keeps track of the catalog patched systems. By setting up a systematic patch release monitoring system, you can inform your team of impending upgrades and ultimately save time and money.
- Patch testing:
It is recommended to roll your patches out in a non-productional environment to avoid patch issues and this helps you to test the patch's viability and lowers the risk of technological failures, security breaches, and system failures that can come along with deploying new patches.
After patches have been tested, documentation must be produced to identify the modifications and effects the new patches produce, assisting you in swiftly troubleshooting any unforeseen issues or bugs that these updates introduce.
- Patch rollout:
Now that your team has validated patches it is time to follow the schedule layout defined in step three, your team should deploy the fixes according to the schedule that best suits their requirements.
- Patch audit:
Once you have rolled out your patches it's time to check in with the end users to collect feedback.
Preparing a monthly patch compliance report provides insight into the success and pain points in your patch management. This gives stakeholders a good view of the overall success of your deployment.
- Review, Optimize, and repeat:
Examine your reporting and keep an eye out for systems that are nearing the end of their useful lives. This policy should be examined periodically and optimized to yield better results.
Patch management is a critical aspect of cybersecurity that can help organizations maintain the security of their IT infrastructure. By following best practices such as developing a clear patch management policy, performing regular vulnerability assessments, staying up-to-date with vendor releases, testing patches before deploying, using automated patch management tools, applying patches in a timely manner, and monitoring and verifying patch installations, organizations can reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and keep their systems protected against known vulnerabilities.
By implementing these best practices, organizations can ensure that their patch management processes are efficient and effective, and help them stay one step ahead of potential cyber threats.
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