Patch Management Is Smart Security: Taking Steps to Stop Software Vulnerabilities

By: James O'Brien| - Leave a comment

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If there is one task that information technology leaders can turn to daily to stop cyberthreats, it’s patch management. It’s time-consuming and requires a meticulous eye for the bugs and back doors lurking in even the most popular software’s code, but sealing the gaps in digital infrastructures is a critical step in stopping data theft and business disruption.

Patch Management Thwarts Cybercriminals

The evidence that cybercriminals are exploiting software weak spots is ever-present, and it is often indicative of missed opportunities to implement a patch management approach.

As SecurityWeek pointed out, a significant number of the most-exploited data vulnerabilities in 2014 were the result of software weaknesses dating back nearly 10 years. In that same year, 76 percent of enterprise network vulnerabilities were based on software problems more than two years old, according to the NTT Group’s most recent “Global Threat Intelligence Report.”

If you’re a cybercriminal, you look for the soft spots in a company’s software. If you’re an IT leader for your business or enterprise, you turn to patch management to seal those vulnerabilities before bad actors can get in. To that end, consider the following strategic vectors as ways to bring patch management to the forefront of your company’s security profile.

Leverage Managed Security Services to Stop Software Vulnerabilities

Multiply the number of a company’s software components by the number of updates that affect them and it becomes clear that patch management is a process requiring significant time and resources.

As experts within the managed security services (MSS) space measure it, however, bringing in an outside MSS provider can cut the cost of implementing a robust patch management strategy by as much as 55 percent. For enterprise and business leaders, leveraging that kind of partnership can be critical to easing stress on security and IT budgets.

Time Is of the Essence

Publicly traded businesses know that keeping software up to date with the latest patches can mean the difference between a good standing with regulatory bodies and facing the consequences of failing to meet compliance rules. A strong MSS patch management solution can bring the power of automation to the process — responding instantly to new recommended patch installations and avoiding the lag time that can lead to data compromises.

Successful Strategies Rely on Careful Evaluation

As TechTarget noted, however, it’s not just patch installation that figures into the equation. There’s also the step-by-step assessment of how each patch will integrate with and meet the needs of an entire digital infrastructure.

If you assign the process to overburdened in-house teams or rely on automation alone, a distributed patch could unintentionally break or disrupt a complicated business ecosystem. An MSS solution can put the patch evaluation into expert hands without absorbing staff resources at the on-site level.

The software on which an enterprise or business runs amounts to the virtual bricks that make up its digital infrastructure. But software all too often comes with flaws — the bugs and unintentional back doors in code — that an attacker can exploit to steal data and disrupt operations.

With a strong, swift and transparent patch management strategy, however, an enterprise is effectively repointing its masonry as an ongoing process. MSS partnerships augment that ongoing response, strengthening software against cyberattacks that threaten to degrade and invade infrastructure, keeping the bad elements out and ensuring data security against both longstanding and evolving threats.

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About The Author

James O'Brien

Freelance Writer

As a journalist and writer in the branded content space, James O'Brien covers business, technology, social media, marketing, film, food, wine, writing and news. The Nieman Journalism Lab has called his work in the custom content space "sponsored content done right." He has written for major regional newspapers, and he has managed and edited established, startup and turnaround newsrooms in varied markets, from community papers to major-city dailies. He consults for firms and businesses — startups to seasoned — on the creation of effective content strategies and the establishment of practical editorial calendars for enacting them. O'Brien holds a Ph.D. in Editorial Studies from the Editorial Institute at Boston University, where he researched and edited Bob Dylan's other-than-song writings. He is engaged in a bibliography for Oxford University Press, covering writings about filmmaker John Cassavetes. He is the author of "The Indie Writer's Survival Guide." His short stories and poetry are published in numerous journals and magazines.

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