IT managers and project manager tend to put software updates as the last task of the system maintenance. Software maintenance is very crucial in dealing with cybersecurity threats. Software patches can help in blocking cyber-attacks to your system and safeguard organizational data.
1. Use discovery tools
As a network administrator, it is important to use the best discovery services available to detect all devices and users who gained access to the network. This information helps you in coming up with the right patch management practice to protect the company’s network as well as protect individuals workstations.
It is difficult to manage security breaches with little information on what causes them. Therefore, maintaining an up-to-date inventory system will help in identifying the physical devices end-users use to access the network can help you easily determine the right software updates for each of them on regular basis. If a single machine on the network is not updated with the right patch, it can affect the stability of your network.
2. Use application patches
Third-party application software needs to be updated regularly. Many implemented OS discovery tools are only meant for the discovery of operating systems and some applications from the OS vendor. When using windows platform as your operating system, you may get 80% of vulnerabilities from non- Microsoft products thus the need for app patches.
The end-users can use different apps on the network which may not be controlled by the IT personnel and these apps can act as a front door to attacks.
Applications like Mozilla, Google and flash player are mostly targeted by hackers. Sometimes the automatic updates to this applications may be disabled by the users making them vulnerable.
3. Install software patches on and off premises
The IT personnel and other end-users can access the company’s network at remote areas. Therefore, patching should be done to every device accessing the network in different locations. The patch management system should be able to secure remote connection as it would for devices within the premises.
Users can connect to a virtual private network and you should keep all software patches up-to-date. You never know when an exploit to your network may take place. Updated software patches will detect and block any violation of security policies.
4. Patch every week.
Based on the apps and sensitivity of your organization data, Patching should be done on regular basis at least in a weeks’ time. Some apps company’s like Microsoft have a patch release schedules on when they will release the next software patch. Other software vendors have unpredictable software patch releases like Mozilla and Google. Updating your software on regular basis helps reduce security threats especially threats from using portable devices.
5. Test patches after installation
Make it a routine within your company to test for flows in the installed software updates. You should go through QA testing and user testing to ensure there are no flows or defects in the update.
6. Mitigating system incompatibilities
Installed software patches may bring incompatibility issues with other installed application. As an IT personnel, you should learn how to live with some of the incompatibilities and make an exception as a mitigation to reduce the risk.
Patch management tools
1. GFI LanGuard
This tool helps in scanning for software vulnerabilities and testing company’s compliance to patch management corporate governance and government regulations. LanGuard is a Microsoft product that leverage windows applications and third-party applications. This tool uses agents to communicate and manage nodes connected to a network.
2. HEAT PatchLink
PatchLink is a HEAT patch management tool integrated with Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to reduce risk on Windows computers and other applications installed in those devices. The tool provides both security and non-security patches to Windows, Unix, Linux and MacOS systems.
3. Kaseya VSA Patch management
VSA patch system is used to automate patch processing task making it easy to update several nodes at the same time. VSA is used as a monitoring tool for managing company’s inventories and network performance. Users can customize the tool to carry out automatic tasks, keep IT managers informed on system performance as well as carry out audits.
4. Manage Engine Patch Manager Plus
Manage Engine is the most common application used in the apps management. The popularly used software is Manage Engine Desktop Integrated suite which is a Manager Plus in complex environments for OS and app patches. This tool has auto-discovery feature to extract windows data from Active directory console.
Patch management programs are required by the organizations to provide a framework for testing organization’s compliance with corporate governance. It also ensures the organization’s IT infrastructure is up-to-date and monitor its performance.