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.
Wondering if your business needs a patch availability report done? Get all your questions answered with our comprehensive guide.
Defining a Patch
During first aid, after methylated spirit or iodine is used to clean a wound, a patch is applied on the skin to cover the wounded area. Just like the name implies, patches cover the holes in a system, keeping hackers and other unauthorized personnel from further exploiting the flaws.
Patches in technology are basically a set of changes to a computer program or It’s supporting data designed to update, fix, or improve it. It is one of the most important cybersecurity tools needed by anybody who uses a computer, it is just as important as antivirus software.
A patch is a piece of software that a company issues whenever there is a flaw in the system, it is mostly done to keep the security of the user intact and improve their general experience. In the recent past, several holes have been exploited with severe consequences on the firm before their developers could make a patch and regain control. Some instances include the Heartbleed Virus in 2014 and the more recent Ransomware attack that struck in 2017.
Patches are used for other purposes rather than just fixing software flaws— they can also add new features to software and firmware. Whenever cybersecurity experts, researchers, and testers discover a new flaw in the system of a software or firmware, the typical protocol is to alert the software developer immediately, so they can start working on a patch. They do not reveal the discovery to the public and this is where patch management comes in.
What You Need To Know About Patch Management
Patch management is the process that is used for the identification, acquisition, installation, and verification of patches for products and systems. Patches are used to correct security and functionality issues in software and firmware. From the perspective of security, patches are most often of interest because they are used to mitigate software flaw vulnerabilities and reduce the chances of exploitation.
Patch management is a necessity that is required by various security compliance bodies, frameworks, and other policies. For instance, NIST Special Publication (SP) 800-532 requires the SI-2, Flaw Remediation security control, which includes, testing patches before installing and integrating them into the structured management processes of any organization.
Another example is the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS)3, which mandates that the latest patches are installed and sets a maximum time-frame for the installation of the most critical patches. To effectively manage the process of patching, there is a serious need for a standard patch availability report.
What is a Patch Availability Report?
A patch availability report usually contains information about the vulnerable systems in your network and the patch details to fix the said vulnerability. The importance of patching to a business cannot be overemphasized, especially when changes are made and a new patch is available for their products.
Many businesses do not have a proper structure in place to manage the discovery and installation of patches for their apps, firmware, and hardware, and that is why they need proper patch management which can be outsourced to a reliable and experienced company.
Businesses are very susceptible to attack when they do not pay constant attention to the vulnerabilities of the software which they use on a regular basis. A patch availability report for every single one of their software, hardware, and firmware should become the norm.
Why Should You Have a Patch Availability Report?
For many businesses, the problem is compliance. They’re concerned about keeping their tools up to date, and also being in line with the compliance rules of their respective regulatory agencies. Outsourcing your patch availability report and other patch management strategies to a qualified cybersecurity company is something that every business should consider.
Patch availability reporting is the last stage of the patch management process, and it is the most important for every company. It helps to keep track of critical updates, install statuses, failed updates, vulnerability database updates, and many other data points all tailored to individual firms.
The essence of a patch availability report is to inform not just the technicians, but even executives in a company about the current status of their programs, keep the tools of the company up to date and reduce to the barest minimum, the risk of an attack of exploitation of flaws in the system. The secrets to an effective patch availability report are thoroughness, timeliness, and consistency:
A proper patch availability report must be thorough, scanning through every nook and cranny of the web in the search for the fix to the vulnerabilities of every product in the company. Nothing should be ignored and no stone left unturned. A patch availability report is as important to the company as eyes are to a human being. Without a proper report, the company is blind to attacks and exploitation, and the whole essence of a report is to curb such occurrences.
As the saying goes, “a stitch in time saves nine.” All businesses must be wary of delays in their patch management system as it might lead to considerable damage. Structures should be put in place so that the patch availability report is acted on as soon as possible. Patching a software immediately the patch is released is very critical to deny malware access and other exploitation.
A patch availability report should be done on a consistent basis. It can be done daily, weekly or monthly, depending on the company and its structure. The search for vulnerabilities and their fixes must be constant. There should be no room for any lagging as it might be costly.
How To Know a Proper Patch Availability Report
The tenets of a proper availability report are in its ability to be understood by everybody, totally follow compliance guidelines, and to be clear and concise enough to be easily acted upon immediately. These important characteristics can only be met by professionals who have had years of experience in proper patch management and patch availability reporting.
RSI Security’s Patch Availability Service provides a comprehensive report of all the needed hardware, software, and firmware security patches to support your compliance obligations.
We will help to provide patch availability recommendations that are tailored specifically to your industry, from NERC CIP, PCI DSS Requirement 6.2, NIST Patch Management Recommendations, to FINRA Patch Management Recommendations, and HIPAA Security Management Practices.
Any company that uses many software and applications shouldn’t be caught unaware by cyber-attacks because of the lack of a proper patch management system and a proper reporting channel. Reach us today you don’t know what lurks in the shadows.