Best practices for patch management
Patch management is an essential part of cyber security for today’s businesses. However, patches work only if they are discovered and quickly deployed. The following patch management best practices, along with remote monitoring and management software, can protect your systems effectively and efficiently.
Create and Maintain a Systems Inventory
A current inventory of all software and hardware assets is essential for effective patch management. From operating systems to third-party applications, review your assets on a regular basis to maintain an accurate picture of your systems. Your patch management strategies must include an up-to-date inventory in order to accurately compare system vulnerabilities with available patches.
Categorize Systems According to Risk
Some patches require immediate deployment, while others can wait weeks. To ensure that critical systems receive patches quickly, categorize assets according to risk level. Consider an asset’s vulnerability as well as its importance to the functioning of your organization. For example, you would assign higher priority to systems that store sensitive customer information than to assets that are not connected to the internet.
Are you using multiple applications or software versions for the same purpose? Simplify patch management by removing outdated software versions and redundant applications. As you review and update your systems inventory, discard applications that are rarely used. Security patching best practices require less software clutter for fewer vulnerabilities and patching tasks.
Stay Up-to-Date with Vendor Patches
It’s highly likely that your organization uses third-party software and applications. Third-party vendors regularly check their products for vulnerabilities and send patch announcements via emails. An up-to-date inventory is essential for keeping track of vendor products. To stay current, maintain a list of vendors and subscribe to their security update emails.
Reduce Risks from Patch Exceptions
Occasionally, you will not be able to deploy a patch immediately. You may need to make changes in a patch to make it compatible with an app or software. Until the patch can be deployed, you should take steps to protect the app from threats. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to restrict user permissions. Most importantly, you should isolate the application from internet access until it can be patched.
Use a Centralized Patch Management System
Of course, all of these steps can require hours of work from your IT administrators. A centralized patch management system saves time by letting you manage all of those patches and endpoints from a single dashboard. From the cloud, remote monitoring and management software performs tasks such as
• Remote vulnerability mitigation
• Report generation
Internet connectivity is a fact of life for most organizations. Along with that connection comes security risks. By following these best practices for patch management, you can keep your organization’s assets safe from cyber attacks.