Patch management is the process of distributing and applying updates to software. Patches are occasionally required to correct security vulnerabilities and bugs in operating systems, embedded systems, or applications.
Why does your organization need patch management?
Patch management is foundational to cybersecurity. When a vulnerability is found after the release of a piece of software, a patch is issued by the developer to fix it so that these flaws cannot be exploited by cyber-criminals. This reduces your organization’s cybersecurity risk and keeps systems up and running. Patch management also ensures compliance with company procedures and may be required as part of cyber insurance policies.
Patch management ensures that you get the greatest value from your software investment. When a bug is found post-release, a patch is issued that eliminates the bug so that user experience is improved. This allows your employees to remain productive and happy with the software tools your organization has implemented.
Who is responsible for the patch management process?
A successful patch management process requires IT expertise and strategic thinking. Automatically installing every patch on every system as they become available can create unforeseen challenges for your organization. Similarly, selecting an arbitrary weekly time to apply to patches can cause chaos for employees.
You need people who understand your organization’s processes, the technical details of your devices, networks, and software packages, and who can build a patch management process that integrates with your larger IT strategy.
What are the key steps in the patch management process?
To ensure that your patch management process addresses the unique nature of IT systems, the first step must be an accurate assessment of your infrastructure and its vulnerabilities. As such, you should start by compiling a complete inventory of the assets in your IT system, including the operating systems in use, applications installed, embedded systems, then document the owners and users of these assets, their location, and functions. Then, compile a complete list of security controls, before performing a vulnerability assessment on your IT systems.
For the next steps in the process, check back next week as we continue our series on patch management.