Why Software Patch Management Isn’t a Silver Bullet to Remediate Vulnerabilities

By Published On: November 3rd, 2021Categories: Cyber Hygiene, Cybersecurity

If you’ve worked in IT or security for any length of time, you surely know all about patch management. It’s an important part of any vulnerability management program.

But patching isn’t as easy as pushing an update to every employee’s laptop and hoping that process will run smoothly, nor is it a silver bullet to reducing risk in your organization and remediating vulnerabilities.

Here’s our take on why patching is important, why it isn’t an “easy button” for protecting your organization’s data, and how to mitigate some of the most common problems we see when it comes to patch management.

Why is software patching important?

There are lots of pros to patching. Here are just a few:

  • Patching reduces your organization’s risk. Software vulnerabilities present some of the biggest security risks—in fact, many of the breaches you see making news headlines are a result of software applications that were in dire need of patching but were left untouched … sometimes for years. For example, many of the vulnerabilities that cyberattackers use to spread ransomware were identified a decade ago, but the risk still remains because of inconsistent patch management efforts to fix those vulnerabilities. By paying close attention to the patches that are released for the technology you’re running in your organization’s environment and implementing them quickly once they’re available, you’ll be one step ahead of the crafty attackers who are on the hunt for an outdated application to exploit.
  • Patching helps you maintain compliance in your environment. Many common compliance standards, such as GDPR, require you to regularly patch the software you’re running. Organizations that don’t have a strong patch management strategy are putting themselves at risk for incurring fines associated with non-compliance, not to mention they’re opening themselves up to reputational issues that may follow.
  • Patching enhances the software and technology you’ve already invested in. New software features? Check. Faster systems? Check. Patching upgrades the software and technology your organization is already using, giving your employees a better experience with the software applications they use every day. Additionally, patching existing software can save your IT and security teams money in the long run because you’re focusing on making your existing tools better versus purchasing and deploying new ones.

What are some common problems with patch management?

There are lots of reasons to create and maintain a strong patch management strategy to remediate vulnerabilities, but many organizations face a few common hurdles:

  • It’s time intensive. Your IT and security team members are already wearing multiple hats, and a strong patch management strategy and program requires a hefty number of resources. From researching to testing to deployment, patch management is often a lengthy process, and the time and effort required typically increase with both the number of employees and software applications in your organization. With IT and security resources spread thin, patch management can often fall to the bottom of the to-do list.
  • Patch libraries only get you part of the way to “done.” At first glance, automated patch libraries seem like a quick solution for managing patches for all the software applications your employees use. But patch libraries aren’t a quick fix—they offer only basic patching, which means that your engineers are still on the hook for creating custom scripts to ensure the patches you’re deploying align with the way everything is configured in your environment.
  • Custom app settings easily unravel in the patching process. If your team has ever customized any software settings within your organization, these custom settings can make patch management a headache. When patches are deployed, they often reset the application settings … meaning you have to go back into your systems to ensure that your custom settings are still intact after you’ve pushed out a new update (spoiler alert: they usually aren’t). This is undoubtedly one of the most complex and time-consuming parts of patch management.

See how we compare to Patch My PC (Hint – We don’t)

How do you manage patch management?

If you’re looking for help with patch management to remediate vulnerabilities, find a vendor that creates a custom software package—including patching—that’s designed specifically for your organization. Choosing an off-the-shelf solution full of pretested patches might initially seem like a good idea, but in reality, this route typically causes unnecessary and unexpected headaches for your IT and security teams.

At Aiden, creating custom software packages—and deploying and automating those in your environment—is exactly what we do. We’re committed to bringing more consistency to our customers’ environments, mitigating their specific risks, and managing cumbersome processes like patch management so that you and your team can turn your attention to your most strategic priorities.

Interested in hearing more about a custom software package for your organization?

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