Security Patching Can Protect You From A Cyberattack
Summary: This 3-minute article discusses the importance of security patching. What is a security patch? Learn why patching is necessary for your overall network cyber security. For further guidance regarding security patches, contact GEEKAID Computer and Network Support at https://www.geek-aid.com/. They offer a wide array of business IT solutions for home and business computer systems.
What Is A Software Patch?
Software is not perfect when developers release it. Inevitably bugs are discovered after launching software and being used by many users. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patch_(computing) defines a patch as “a set of changes to a computer program or its supporting data designed to update, fix, or improve it. Patching includes fixing security vulnerabilities and other bugs, with such patches usually being called bugfixes or bug fixes.” The main purpose of patches is to fix bugs in software functionality and patch security issues, including vulnerabilities in operating systems. In general, software patches are included in software updates. During the lifespan of programs, it is possible for many patches to be released over a period of years.
What Is A Security Patch?
Software updates and security patches go together. While many software updates include fixes for bugs in functionality, some address previous flaws in cyber security that create serious vulnerabilities. Such vulnerabilities make targets for cybercriminals. Security patches are one of the most important reasons for users to accept updates on all their software, especially their operating systems. Therefore, it is essential to keep your software up-to-date to maintain secure and seamless work on your computer system.
What Is Patch Management?
Simply put, Patch Management is part of comprehensive IT maintenance and ensures that all available updates for your software are installed so that your computer and all its connected devices run as smoothly and securely as possible. When users don’t apply security patches, they create opportunities for hackers to breach their system and all its devices. Over 60% of cyberattacks are estimated to capitalize on instances when important security patches are not installed. In a sense, inconsistent software updates and ignoring security patches make it easier for cybercriminals to launch a successful attack. There are three main benefits to implementing Patch Management are:
- Enhances Cyber Security – By regularly patching all your software, including your operating system, you can fortify an essential layer of cyber security.
- Adds Functionality and Less Downtime – Patches (or fixes) often improve functionality compared to previous software versions. Software developers intend to continue to fix bugs as they come to light from user feedback and continued testing.
- Supports High Compliance Businesses – Patching your system when updates are available will help prevent regulatory violations and the resulting fines.
It is best to apply patches within the first 30 days of their release date. Also, many of the updating and patching processes can be automated. However, someone in IT should oversee approving or rejecting the most important updates. Here are the steps that should be incorporated into a Patch Management plan:
- Monitor Patch Releases – Know the release date of all your software’s patches so you may be prepared for the updates in advance. Good endpoint management tools can automate the process.
- Scan All Endpoints – Using your endpoint management tool, you can scan all your endpoint devices, checking for patch releases.
- Download Patches From The Software Vendor – Stay on top of updates from vendors and then download them for installation.
- Pre-Test Patches – You can never predict unexpected software conflicts that may arise after installing a patch. Therefore, whenever possible, it is a best practice to test them in a safe environment before deployment.
- Schedule Deployment – Large patches sometimes slow down your system or require restarts. It’s important to schedule and automate patch installation for a time that does not disrupt your business, home computer system or any of your endpoint devices. Many updates, including patches, are best deployed overnight.
- Certify Patch Validity – Once patches are deployed, they should be tested again to ensure everything is operating as it should. Try using the patched programs and see if anything slows up or malfunctions in any way.
- Save All Patch Documentation – Run patch reports and keep them for ready reference. Patching is definitely not a set-and-forget operation.
Security Patching Best Practices
Patch management is complex, at times tedious and it requires ongoing attention. However, once the management process is in place, it will become routine and save you significant time and money in the long run. Here are some patching best practices:
- Prioritize Which Patches Are Most Important For Security and Functionality
- Centralize Patch Management – Patching will be most efficient when managed from one computer console. Therefore, all patch management responsibility should be executed through that machine to avoid conflicts.
- Automate As Much As Possible – By automating the patch management function, you can reduce the risk of missing new releases and reduce the time from release to download and deployment.
Establish A Patch Management process and stick to it. If you are a home user, follow your own plan. If you are a small to midsized business, enact company-wide IT best practices, so everyone is on the same page and your computer operations can be up-to-date and at peak performance.