Patch Management Best Practices

In a report published by the SANS Institute reviewing IT security spending trends (2018), they rank “spending effectiveness”. The effectiveness rank of the top 5 in a list of 21 is:

  1. Access & Authentication
  2. Endpoint Security
  3. Advanced Malware prevention
  4. Wireless Security
  5. Continuous monitoring

The top 5 in dollars spent are:

  1. Access & Authentication
  2. Advanced Malware Prevention
  3. Endpoint Security
  4. Tie – DLP/Encryption and Wireless Security

When we have talked to our security partners, patch management is an area that is often referenced as being a highly effective way to stop some attacks. Patch management is still a critical component of your security posture and should be given some time and effort to make sure you have a comprehensive patching process.

Patching operating systems and applications is surefire way to block a number of attacks. But we need to do more than just send out updates. It takes a bit of organization and effort, but it is well worth the invested time. The following are some key areas and items to consider.

Know what you have and what patch levels they are on.  There are discovery applications and services available.

Make sure you have support for the various OS platforms in your environment – Windows, Mac OS, Linux variants/distributions, and mobile devices.

Application level patching. It is very important to patch applications. And BYOD policies can complicate things further.

Patch regularly and create a patch cadence. For example, you may patch end user systems weekly and patch servers monthly.  

Make sure to apply patches to devices on your corp network and remote/VPN users too.

Post patch and update mitigation. There will be times when applying patches can break things. Have a plan for creating exceptions.

We have a managed patch management service that we can deploy for our customers. And can be planned out to execute to your scheduling and process goals. It is not that it is technically difficult, but rarely do firms allocate enough time and resources to the task. Give our support team a call, they are always happy to share how they organize and execute the tasks.


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