Given the countless cyber threats facing organizations these days, security has become one of the most pressing issues on the executive mind. Yet when we talk about cybersecurity, we rarely focus on security vulnerabilities and how patching those vulnerabilities is crucial for a cybersecurity program.
So what is vulnerability patching, exactly?
A vulnerability is a flaw that cybercriminals can exploit to gain unauthorized access or to perform unauthorized actions on a computer system. For example, vulnerabilities can allow attackers to execute code, access data storage, install malware, and steal, destroy or modify sensitive data.
Patching seals up those vulnerabilities. It remediates bugs and prevents malware, ransomware, and endpoint breaches, which could all transpire while your antivirus software, firewalls, and operating systems are running smoothly.
Vulnerability management is an essential process for the effective mitigation of security risks. Its objective is to distribute patches for vulnerabilities and apply them to all affected areas in the shortest time possible.
The Benefits of Patch Management
Patch management is a method of network security management based on prevention rather than fixing problems. Executing a proper plan for vulnerability patching bring benefits for enterprises such as:
- Security. Security patches prevent zero-day cyber attacks and protect your company from known security breaches. Patching also encourages a culture of cybersecurity awareness, which is key to protecting stakeholders.
- Reduced downtime. Patch management helps to reduce the loads on your internal IT department through automation, applying patches according to the off-peak hours of the systems.
- End-user satisfaction. When you provide a service related to technology tools, it’s essential to maintain the functionality of those tools. The patch management process allows us to know the security vulnerabilities and mitigate them before threatening the users’ experience.
- Compliance. Some regulations require companies to keep their IT systems up to date. As a result, missing patches can result in non-compliance fines from regulators.
- Innovation. Maintaining a set of efficient patch deployment tools enables you to keep your technologies up to date and to apply the latest and most significant operating system updates.
Different platforms and operating systems, including Microsoft, MAC OS X, and Linux systems regularly scan for vulnerabilities and manage patch deployment in their operation to maintain a secure quality of service.
Best Practices for Patching Security Vulnerabilities
So patching the systems on your network is a crucial component of keeping your organization secure. Now let’s outline some of the best practices for patching vulnerabilities.
- Make lists of all the software you’re using. It is crucial to know which systems your organization uses (and what those systems are used for) to implement timely software updates.
- Implement automated tools. Reducing downtime is essential, and automation eliminates excessive and time-consuming work for the IT department. Moreover, automated patch management tools make scanning and deploying patches quick and easy.
- Establish a routine for patching. Automation allows patching to be an active process, so scheduling routine vulnerability scanning (daily, weekly, or monthly) is an optimal practice.
- Patch testing. Before deploying patches, it is always wise to test them. One good technique for testing patches is to create a “staging” environment that includes production copies of your business-critical servers, and test the patches there. Early-stage testing helps identify and eliminate any issues before patch deployment.
- Apply patches at the right time. There will always be new patches for known vulnerabilities, but it is better to wait if threats are not imminent. Through vulnerability assessments, one can identify the frequency and speed of the patching process. This helps you to determine which vulnerabilities require urgent patching and which can wait due to resource management or the presence of inherent vulnerabilities in the patch.
ZenGRC Helps You Track Vulnerabilities
ZenGRC is a governance, risk management, and compliance tool that helps you implement a good patch management process and remediate security vulnerabilities. In addition, it can help to automate and facilitate the documentation and workflows involved in these routine tasks while eliminating the tedious tasks that often make the process feel like a burden.
ZenGRC works with other tools to collect and store data on your vulnerabilities and guides you on how to resolve them. Not only does this help compliance officers accomplish more; it also makes organizations more efficient at the ongoing task of governance and continuous monitoring.
To see how ZenGRC can help with patching security vulnerabilities, contact us today for your free consultation.