Three Essential Steps for Mac Patching

In: #patching

When it comes to the productivity of employees, few things are as valuable as each user selecting the tools that work best for them. For IT, this means creating an environment that helps employees select their preferred OS platform. When given the opportunity, many users will choose the Mac operating system. 

In order to accurately integrate Mac into the enterprise network, IT professionals need the knowledge to ensure smooth implementation, ongoing support and an effective Mac patching process. Mac is not always difficult to manage, but the procedures for securing, patching and updating are not the same with other operating systems. 

Consequently, IT administrators do not always have a concrete knowledge of how to apply the same patch deployment processes to Mac. Therefore, to help make your Mac deployment as easy as possible, we are sharing three essential steps for Mac patching.

1. Understanding How Apple Provisioning Works 

While provisioning a Mac is not really complex, the process is different from the traditional imaging method. More importantly, Apple provisioning is done through the Device Enrollment Program, which runs in the cloud and can be accessed through the Apple Business Manager Application. 

After registering device serial numbers in the device enrollment program (DEP), IT will register the devices in a mobile device management (MDM) tool. The tool helps IT to set up group policy objects (GPO). This includes settings for the configuration of users based on their designated user group. 

Additionally, it shows the applications that users should see on their desktop and their security access settings. Most times, this procedure looks strange to IT administrators who have only worked in Windows environments. 

The most essential Mac patching process is that the MDM installs the settings and applications to the devices through the Apple cloud. Therefore, end users can start working without IT professionals ever having to physically touch their Mac during the provisioning process. 

2. Deliver Updates to Mac Efficiently

The procedure for applying OS updates and security patches for Mac is simplified with a free service from Apple which is called MacOS updates. For Mac, it’s ideal to test different configurations to ensure patches and updates won’t break any applications and operating systems in the environment. 

The specific services to test include the ability to log into email, utilize VPN services and access files in shared drives. It’s important to test when deploying antivirus software because it can break the operating system and cause machines to crash. 

In order to manage the process, the best tool to use is a dedicated Apple Software Update Server. However, an alternative way is to manage and test patches on Windows and Linux machines. Open-source tools such as Munki and Reposado that run on MDM platforms can act like Mac’s software update tool, which helps IT push updates to end-users the same way they would from the update server. 

3. Secure Mac with Authentication Measures

The major way to ensure Mac security is two-factor authentication. In addition to using usernames and passwords, IT professionals can request a unique code that is sent via a text message which they need to enter before getting access to the system. Alternatively, IT administrators can give users a thumb drive to plug into their devices. Without the unique code or thumb drive, users won’t be able to log in to their system.

For user identity services, Active Directory is the major tool that IT teams are familiar with. However, Macs can have performance issues when connected directly to it. In order to simplify the process, IT professionals can use tools like Apple Enterprise Connect and Jamf Connected to eliminate the need for local machines connected directly to Active Directory, while also tracking account credentials on local machines. 

This method simplifies the login process for end-users while still giving IT departments the ability to implement policies that require users to change passwords every three months. The easier it is for users to get the technical support they need, the easier it will be for IT to deploy and administer Mac security updates. 

The initial step is to ensure that your Mac device users know who to contact when issues occur. This will ensure users can get the assistance they need effectively and efficiently, reducing the threats or vulnerabilities and speeding the patching process. 

Self-service applications can reduce support desk phone calls and tickets. This is due to users having access to already approved and safe applications whenever they need them. Furthermore, the ability to run maintenance tasks to fix minor issues will also help users feel empowered and ensure little issues get fixed immediately, instead of waiting in the IT queue. 

Are You Ready for Mac Best Practices? 

For IT administrators, especially those without previous experience, initial deployment may seem complex, but with the above Mac patching practices and the business tools offered by Apple, your users can be up and running immediately. 

Vicarius is a vulnerability remediation tool that targets cybersecurity officers as well IT managers and operators from the U.S. market. Our products and services are personalized to your unique business and always incorporate Mac best practices. 


Photo by reza shayestehpour on Unsplash

Written by Kent Weigle

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