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8 Patch Management Best Practices You Should Know About

Posted on Oct 14, 2021 8:04 am

Are you trying to learn more about effective patch management? Want to make sure that you manage patches in the best way possible?

Software patching is an essential part of protecting your business and preventing cyber attacks. If your organization underestimates the importance of software patching you may be leaving your organization open to attacks and may suffer the consequences.

Instead, it’s important to have a solid patch management strategy in place. You should ensure that you’re applying patches quickly and efficiently so that your organization will remain secure and safe.

Fortunately, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll tell you everything that you need to know about the best practices of patch management.

Understanding Patch Management

Patch management is the process you’ll use to efficiently add “patches” to existing pieces of software that you use. 

Patches are typically used to fix security issues and bugs in your software. It’s important to stay on top of the latest news about any software that you use. You should keep track of available patches and regularly apply them to your software to ensure that it’s working as it should be. This will help you ensure that the negative effects of security vulnerabilities are avoided.

Thinking carefully about your patch management strategy offers many benefits. Doing so will help you minimize your risk and keep your organization’s systems as secure as possible at all times.

If you fail to patch your software quickly enough, you’ll be leaving your system vulnerable to attackers and your business can end up suffering as a result. Instead, it’s important to take patch management seriously to ensure that your organization stays as secure as possible and avoids any serious issues. Keep in mind, however, that patching software is only one part of system security.

Unfortunately, staying on top of what the latest patches are and applying them can take time and effort. Because of this, creating a solid patch management strategy and implementing best practices is essential. You should do everything you can to optimize patch management processes and to make sure that your systems are always kept safe and secure.

Best Practices For Patch Management

It’s important to optimize your patch management process if you want to keep your systems secure. While there are a lot of ways to manage patches and ensure that your systems stay secure, there are some ways that are better than others. By adopting patch management best practices, you’ll ensure that you’re managing patches as effectively as possible and avoiding any possible attacks and data breaches.

Here are a few of the best practices of patch management that you should be following.

1. Take Inventory of Systems

A key best practice that you should implement with patch management is to start by inventorying your systems.

You should get a crystal clear idea of what software and hardware you’re using and should know exactly how your environment currently stands. You should document your systems and understand which devices, operating systems and versions, and third-party applications are currently being used. 

Once you have a solid understanding of what you’re working with, you’ll then be able to have a much easier time paying attention to vulnerabilities and discovering available patches.

2. Determine Risk and Vulnerability

Another key thing to do when managing patches is to determine the risk levels of your systems and assign priorities to each of them.

There are many things to consider when determining the risk levels of your organization’s systems. Some factors to consider include how easy a vulnerability can be exploited, how long a system has been left unpatched, and whether the system accesses the internet or not. You should also run a vulnerability scan to ensure that you know where there may be vulnerabilities.

While all systems should be patched, by carefully considering the risk levels of your systems, you’ll ensure that you’re spending time on the most vulnerable systems first.

3. Consolidate Software

If you use a lot of versions of the same software across different systems it can increase your risk. Instead, it’s best to consolidate software across your systems as much as you can.

First of all, you should ensure that you’re not using multiple pieces of software that perform the same functions. Sticking to one piece of software for a specific purpose is ideal.

Additionally, you should also verify that the versions of these pieces of software are kept the same as well.

4. Create a Patch Management Policy

Another thing to do when handling patch management is to ensure that you have a clear patch management policy that you’ll follow with dedication.

A patch management policy should establish what should be patched as well as when and in what instances. If some systems should be patched more often than others, then you’ll want to note this in your patch management policy.

You may also want to consider how extensive a patch rollout process will be for each system. You should determine whether non-critical updates should be installed, for example.

You’ll also want to consider when the patches will be installed in order to minimize disruptions and to ensure that systems can be used as needed.

5. Track Patch Availability

Another best practice to remember when it comes to patch management is to ensure that you’re keeping track of patches that are released. You should be staying on top of any patches that are needed for your systems.

Once you have taken inventory of all operating systems and third-party software you’re using, you need to have a plan for staying on top of which security updates will be needed. Each software vendor will have a particular method they’ll use to communicate this information, so be sure that you find out what this method is and stay on top of it.

Have a process for monitoring this information and getting it as quickly as possible if you want to ensure that your software is kept up-to-date and is kept free from vulnerabilities.

6. Apply Patches Quickly

Another best practice that you should follow with patch management is to make sure that you’re applying patches as quickly as you can.

As part of your patch management policy, you should ensure that any patches that are needed for your software are applied in a timely manner. Taking too much time to apply necessary software patches can leave your systems vulnerable to attack and you may face big issues as a result.

Be sure that you avoid this by ensuring that you apply patches as quickly as you can once they become available. 

7. Sufficiently Test Patches

To manage patches effectively, you also need to make sure that you’re being cautious. Be sure that you spend time testing any patches that you need before applying them to every system that you have.

All environments are one of a kind and a patch may cause problems with specific configurations. You should try applying patches to just a small sample of your systems first before you apply them to all of the systems that you have.

Once you have successfully applied patches to a small subset of your systems, you can then be more confident in patching the rest of the systems in your organization. It’s a good idea to take the patch management process one step at a time and to apply patches to one small group at a time before proceeding to another one.

8. Automate Patching

If you want to make your systems as secure as possible and ensure that you’re managing patches effectively, you should also ensure that you automate the process as much as possible.

You should try to automate the patching of your systems to ensure that you get patches applied as quickly as possible once they become available. There should be a minimal amount of time that your systems are unpatched and left vulnerable to attacks.

Using tools that allow you to apply patches to applications in an automated way can be helpful. Automating patch management can help you ensure that you’re applying patches in a quick and efficient way every time that a patch is necessary.

Using These Tips to Improve Patch Management

If you want to develop an efficient and effective patch management strategy, you need to think carefully about the best practices. Be sure to consider all of the information above if you want to ensure that you’re effectively managing patches and keeping your organization as secure as possible. 

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