An effective and proper patch management process is critical to any organization’s well-being as it helps maintain and update the security of the organization’s technology assets. It enhances the productivity of the workplace and ensures everything is working seamlessly. It also brings forth system updates and new additions to different features and meets compliance standards required by industry and clients.
What Are Patches?
Patches are bits of code created by software companies to cover the gaping holes or gaps in existing software, thus the name, to ensure that the software work smoothly. The patch management process encompasses scanning the computers, mobile phones, and other electronic devices attached to a network to check missing software updates. After the gaps are identified, the updates are installed. This reduces the program’s vulnerabilities from hacker attacks. This is usually a temporary fix, though, and works until the full version of the software is released to address these patches.
These patches need to be installed on the main computer and deployed to all the computers attached to it. At times, all the computers require individual patch management treatment.
Why Do Businesses Need Patch Management?
Patch management entails numerous benefits for an enterprise. These include:
Companies release patches to secure their software against malware and other vicious attacks. When a gap is discovered, it becomes important to address it before it becomes an entry point for a full-fledged attack occurs. Usually, hackers are on the lookout for any such vulnerabilities.
Patch management helps add new features to the existing programs. Companies keep adding new features to their software to make it more competitive and responsive to clients’ changing needs. It also improves the functionality of the software.
Better Client/Customer Management
Patch management helps improve your customers’ experience with uninterrupted and stable services from your organization. Making customers satisfied develops confidence in your organization’s capabilities and deepens their investment in it.
Components/Features of Patch Management
Patch management is not a standalone activity. It is an integrated and coordinated exercise that involves your organization’s human and material resources. Its key components include:
Taking Stock of the Network Inventory
This is a physical exercise that considers all the devices connected to the office network and to each other. You should also know what programs, applications, and software are installed on them, as well as their hardware configuration. Sometimes old software or hardware may be causing trouble to the network.
Bring in Standardization
After auditing the inventory, it is time to standardizing it. This means configuring every device on the network with the same hardware and software applications. While this may not be entirely possible, it is imperative that each item – whether software or hardware – are as similar, if not identical, to each other as possible. It will help in detecting any anomaly and vulnerability in the system.
In risk analysis, the IT team determines the extent of vulnerability of or threat on the various areas of your network. You can classify these areas as low, medium, and high risk, then apply the patches, prioritizing the high-risk zones first and moving down to the medium and low-risk zones.
Scanning and Monitoring
In this phase of the patch management process, your IT team scans and monitors the network system for patch detection and identification. It is important to conduct this exercise regularly, especially when the vendors release new patches. You can use patch management tools for scanning purposes.
If you are using your own patches, it is best to apply them in isolation first. If they are proven work, then you can apply them to the entire network. Some patch management software comes with pre-tested patches, eliminating the need for sample testing.
Deployment of Patches
This is the application of the patches to the problem areas. This step needs to be carefully planned before execution. The timing of deployment is important, too, as it may cause the network to slow down, or become unresponsive. The deployment should be done during off-peak hours to avoid the hassle to the production. As earlier mentioned, the high-risk areas should be dealt with first.
Tracking, Validating, and Reporting
After a patch is deployed, monitoring its progress is a must. The patch should have fixed the bug, and there should be no error in its deployment. If you encounter any problems, report them, find out the causes behind these issues, and remove them.
Plan B is imperative in the event that the problem persists or even exacerbates even after the patch deployment. Be prepared to take corrective measures.
NST provides ongoing patch management core platform support, administration, configuration, and deployment based on a thorough understanding of your business requirements and IT environment. Our comprehensive patch management lifecycle approach includes assessment, discovery, planning, testing, deployment, and validation of systems under management. You can rely on our skilled and experienced individuals for all your IT and computer-related issues.
Contact us today or visit our offices in Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne.