As technology advances, so do cyberthreats, requiring the need for patch management solutions to manage updates to software, applications, and technologies and prevent data breaches.
In 2019, a record number of data breaches occurred, increasing by 54% in the first six months of 2019 compared to the first half of 2018. Around 4.1 billion records were exposed during that time. This makes one wonder how, even with advancing technologies, security is still a pressing concern.
This article will tackle patch management and why it’s a thing to consider when talking about data security.
What Is Patch Management?
Patch management repairs vulnerabilities in the IT environment that are uncovered only after the software and hardware are released to the market. It encompasses different system components like operating systems, routers, servers, emails, desktops, office suites, client information, firewalls, mobile devices, among others.
Deploying patch management is an automated process, eliminating time-consuming and cumbersome manual processes, and streamlining the management of large volumes of data.
Patch management can be performed by a third-party service provider. If you have a fully outsourced IT support service provider, patch management is likely included in the services they render.
Why Is Patch Management Important?
Unpatched software, application, and other IT systems are the easiest to attack since there are many holes in the security that cybercriminals can exploit. New vulnerabilities keep being discovered, which is why your data should always be considered at risk. Deploying patches to your IT infrastructure ensures that malicious attacks cannot find easy entry points in your system.
Patch management also safeguards the continuity of your service by giving your IT environment the robust protection it needs. Even minor bugs in your software can cause downtimes and errors that can disrupt the workflow of the staff. Patching can help resolve these issues promptly, so the business keeps going.
Types of Patches
Several types of software patches can be deployed to fix existing bugs or vulnerabilities:
- Point release. Otherwise known as dot release, a point release is a relatively small or minor update to fix a flaw on a portion of the software without having to add additional features.
- Hotfix. A hotfix is designed to resolve a specific issue. It is deployed while the software is an operation, hence a “hot” solution without the need to close or restart the program.
- Maintenance release. This entails fixing several outstanding issues and pushing incremental updates between software versions or service packs.
- Security patches. These correct the weakness of a discovered vulnerability within an asset.
- Service pack. This consists of major patches such as bug fixes, updates, or feature augmentation to the software via an installable package.
- Monkey patches. Also known as a guerrilla patch, this type of patch is designed to modify or extend the behavior of an asset locally without changing anything from the source code.
- Unofficial patches. Community members or third-party firms can provide unofficial patches for software products that have reached their scheduled end-of-life. However, updates can be taken advantage of by cybercriminals to introduce new vulnerabilities, so deploy patches only from trusted sources.
Why Is Patch Management Vital to Security?
The purpose of patch management is to implement effective cybersecurity. These updates, fixes, and enhancements exist to ensure that user data and devices have up-to-date protection to block malicious attacks that can hurt the company’s finances. It’s a single element included in the cybersecurity but is ultimately one of the most crucial to deploy always to keep your IT system secure.
Here are some of the benefits of implementing patch management:
Prevents the Loss of Productivity
According to a report from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, 82% of employers acknowledge a shortage in their company’s cybersecurity skills, while 71% see this talent gap as the cause of damages to the company. It means that the resulting system downtime due to lack of cybersecurity personnel to patch things up quickly can cause delayed projects and disgruntled employees that can’t proceed with work unless the issue is resolved.
Brings Down Costs
Data breaches often result in financial losses. A survey reveals that the global cost of a data breach reached $3.92 million on average in 2019. Effective patch management will help you block an attack before it costs you money and resources that could have been allocated to core business functions such as innovating services and products.
Reduces Cyberattack Exposure
Anyone in the IT industry knows that there are no off-days when it comes to vulnerabilities. Always keep in mind that your cybersecurity is still at risk, which is why it’s essential to deploy patch management solutions to your software, applications, devices, and other components of the IT environment. That way, your system won’t have entry points that hackers can use to infiltrate your network.