Cyber security controls are only effective if there are no means of bypassing them. If a vulnerability exists that enables someone or something to circumvent your organization’s existing set of security standards, your whole network could then be compromised. With the rise of cybercriminals targeting known vulnerabilities on unpatched systems, especially through worms and malicious code, implementing a patch management system in your organization is critical to maintaining a strong security posture.
Patch management is the routine procedure of administering updates for all technologically based products and programs, primarily applications and operating system versions. The goal is to create a securely configured digital environment in your organization that is consistently protected against all known vulnerabilities.
To be successful, patch management must be an ongoing process in which your system administrator or managed services provider:
- Maintains knowledge of available patches.
- Determines what patches are appropriate for the specific systems.
- Prioritizes the patches and protects your most critical vulnerabilities first.
- Tests the patches on non-critical systems before installation.
- Performs backups before installing a patch.
- Installs patches and makes sure they work properly.
- Tests the systems after installation.
- Documents all installed patches and the processes utilized.
Patch management is a critically important aspect of cyber security risk management because outbreaks like WannaCry occur because of unpatched vulnerabilities being exploited. In an organization with hundreds of systems, it only takes one compromised system to then harm the entire network. Altogether, in the technological world, there is rarely, if ever, a software or application that is developed without having to be modified or upgraded. As a result, a process must be implemented to distribute patches and remediate known vulnerabilities.
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