Patch management is critical to keeping your security controls up-to-date and protecting your organization against cybersecurity threats. You may be wondering: what are security patch updates, and how do they help optimize cyberdefense? Read on to learn how they work and why they matter.
Firewalls, antivirus software, and other security fortifications are the most visible and apparent components of effective cybersecurity architecture implementation. However, your protocols for system monitoring and maintenance are equally critical to your defenses. You need to scan for gaps or cracks in your safeguards and patch them as needed. Both routine and unique event patch management are not just best practices but necessities.
Because of the way software and firmware are developed and released, they sometimes, if not often contain bugs or dysfunctional code that creates problems with functionality and security. That’s why Patch Management is critical. In fact, between the years 2003 and 2005, more than 2,000 vulnerabilities were identified per year in an average system, which resulted in approximately 7 vulnerabilities per day! This means even a single server business will be dealing with several bugs each month. To find out more about specific bugs or vulnerabilities that have been found and published in the systems you administer, check out the National Vulnerability Database.
Today’s Cybersecurity hackers and threats are more creative than ever when it comes to web hacking. Managing your software patches is one of the best ways to make sure your business safe from any threat. But patch management doesn’t have to be overly technical or only for the IT savvy.
If your business handles PII (personally identifiable information) you need to know how secure your network is. Technology is constantly advancing and this means updates are needed to keep your network secure from breaches. The patch management process, when implemented properly, will work to keep your network secure.
Sometimes, certain changes in a computer program affect the supporting data designed to ameliorate, modify, or improve said computer program. This set of changes is called a patch. Patching involves the modification of security vulnerabilities and other bugs. Many different types of programming bugs that create errors with system implementation may require specific bug fixing that is successfully resolved by patching.
Cyber-attacks are getting more sophisticated daily, and millions of data get stolen by cyber-criminals every now and then. To prevent vulnerabilities that can leave loopholes for hackers to gain access to your company’s network systems, it’s important to constantly update your software applications. Every company should test their products for correctable flaws. To further reduce the drudgery of fixing each flaw individually, companies now have the option of getting a patch availability report which shows the status of all the software, hardware, and firmware used by the business, and their respective fixes.
Vulnerability Scanning vs. Patch Management: What’s the Difference?
In September 2017, Equifax, a consumer credit reporting agency, has suffered a major data breach that exposed the personal data of 148 million American consumers. This data breach is related to the “critical vulnerability” in the Apache Struts software that was publicly disclosed in March 2017. According to a report by the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform released in December of 2018, “Equifax used Apache Struts to run certain applications on legacy operating systems. The following day, the Department of Homeland Security alerted Equifax to this critical vulnerability.”
On March 9, the Global Threat and Vulnerability Management team of Equifax sent this alert via email to more than 400 individuals. They told anyone who had Apache Struts to apply the necessary patch within 48 hours.
Equifax, however, didn’t apply the necessary patch. This led to the exposure of their system and data for 76 days. The report implies the need for any business to reinforce, emphasize and enhance the vulnerability scanning and patch management processes and procedures.
Vulnerability scanning and patch management are two terms that are seemingly identical, but that is not the case. While they have a compatible relationship, they are not the same. It is important for a business to learn the difference between these terms or else it could suffer from a cybersecurity attack similar to that of Equifax.
Let’s define these two terms and see the difference.
Security measures are never foolproof. No matter how many precautions companies and users take, threat actors always find a new point of entry to exploit. Identifying and fixing vulnerabilities requires time, and there lies one of the greatest challenges — deploying sound fixes within a tight time constraint.
Cybersecurity threats are constantly escalating and the current landscape means the majority of successful cyber attacks exploit well-known vulnerabilities that can lead to system breaches and loss of sensitive information. The time between discovery of a system vulnerability and the start of malicious exploits is getting shorter, often a matter of hours before attempted attacks. Increasingly complex enterprise networks, use of bring your own device (BYOD) and other protocols for higher productivity, and the broader array of applications and devices leveraged for business use also provide a larger target for compromise.