What is Patch Management?


Patch management is the process of acquiring, testing and installing updates on computers. It is mostly done by organizations as part of their internal efforts to fix issues with the different versions of software programs. Additionally, patch management also helps to evaluate existing software programs and detect any potential lack of security features.

Software patches help fix those problems that exist and are noticed only after the software has been released. Patches mostly concern security while there are some patches that concern the specific functionality of programs.

What is Patch Management?

Patch management includes detecting missing patches, installing the hot fixes or patches that are released from time to time and offering quick updates on the latest patch deployment status. 

Budget pressure is always high on IT companies; therefore, automating the daily routine task is vital. Path management can be automated to enable all the computers to stay updated with the recent patch releases from the application software vendors. 

It’s essential to take the right steps in order to enhance the security posture of businesses. Consequently, regular patching of applications and operating systems with an automated patch management solution is essential in mitigating and preventing security risks. 

How Does a Patch Management Solution Work?

  • A scan gathers information about missing patches.
  • Automated patch deployment platforms deploy patches based on the deployment policies without any manual interference.
  • Automate the downloading of missing patches that are released by the application vendors.
  • Once the patches are deployed, reports on the status of the automated patch management tasks are updated.

With an automated patch management solution, each organization is equipped to update its endpoints with the latest patches regardless of the operating systems they run and where they are located.

What is the Purpose of Patching?

Patching is the process of repairing a flaw or vulnerability that’s discovered after the release of a software or application. Newly released patches can fix a security flaw and help in enhancing applications with new features. 

Software that isn’t updated can make the device a target of exploits. Therefore, patching software when the patch is released is essential in denying malware access. 

Patch Management Best Practices

Some of the best practices of patch management include:

Understanding the Importance of Patch Management: Knowing why patch management is an essential aspect of cybersecurity solutions is critical. Quick response to the latest patch updates would deny and protect vulnerable systems from zero-day threats.

Availing the Services of Managed Service Providers: Managed service providers offer patch management software to fit the requirements of the business. MSPs take full control of the patch management process while the businesses can focus on the management of the organization and revenue-generating aspects.

The Outcome of Delayed Patch Application: Delayed patch application creates a severe impact which causes major security breaches. The latest Wannacry attack revealed the vulnerability of not updating the software with patch fixes. The victims of Wannacry were those who delayed in updating the patch released by Windows to fix the SMB v1 protocol vulnerability.

Deploying Patch Testing: Some patches are incompatible with certain applications or operating systems and lead to system crashes. IT admins should test the patches before deploying them.

How to Choose the Right Patch Management Software

The demand varies from business to business. However, there are a few common traits that most of the organizations look for in patch management software. They include: 

  • Apply patches on different endpoints such as laptops, desktops, servers and much more.
  • Apply patches across different operating systems that include Linux, Mac and Windows.
  • Offer quick reports on the latest patch update statuses.
  • Provide automated patch management to save time.

You need an effective and effective patch management solution with robust features to keep your network patched with the latest patch updates.

Patch Management Life Cycle

  • Update vulnerability details from software vendors.
  • Scan the enterprise network for vulnerability.
  • Examine the vulnerability and identify the missing patches.
  • Deploy patches and validate patch installation.
  • Generate status reports on the latest patch updates.

Patch Management for Cyber Security

Software vendors release patches to fix vulnerabilities identified after the release of an application or software. Patch management enables patch testing and deployment, which is a critical aspect of cyber security. Instant and quick responses to patch updates would reduce the chances of data breaches that can occur due to unpatched software.

Patch Management Allows You To:
  • Create policies to automatically apply updates to groups of tagged endpoints at scheduled times.
  • Identify which endpoints contain vulnerabilities and need to be patched.
  • View dashboard statistics for breakdowns of available updates for endpoint machines.
  • Remotely deploy operating system updates for Windows and Linux machines.

There’s a lot of software running in your organization, and none of it is perfect. This means a lot of patches from different sources get released on a regular basis. You can’t simply wait to deploy patches when it’s appropriate because leaving those major bugs and security flaws unpatched leaves your business vulnerable. And while managing patches can be tedious and complex, the alternative of getting hit with a security breach is substantially worse.


Photo by Tomas Sobek on Unsplash

Written by Kent Weigle

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