What is Patch Management, and Why Should You Care?

 

Businesses depend on the efficiency of their IT infrastructure. Monitoring the infrastructure and keeping everything up to date is a monumental task for any IT department. For smaller businesses with limited resources, this task can feel overwhelming. Patch management tools can provide relief. IT departments can handle complex software update and maintenance tasks efficiently with these tools.

What Does Patch Management Mean?

Patch management tools take care of software updates for vulnerabilities. When you purchase a hardware, the vendors provide you with certain versions of operating systems and applications. But as time passes, the vendors find new vulnerabilities in the software. So they solve those problems and send new versions to your hardware. These updates are called patches.

Today you use multiple forms of hardware and software in your business. You have hardware like computers, servers, and mobile devices. On those devices, you have different kinds of software like word processors, spreadsheets, and databases. Each of these hardware and software require their own patches for any given problem. And they might also have individual problems that need to be solved. For example, a desktop computer might have a problem with browser vulnerability, while a mobile device might have problems with wireless connections or applications. When you are managing a lot of devices, applying the right patch to the right device becomes complex.

Patch management tools are used to automate the process. Some IT departments handle the patch management tools themselves, others outsource the responsibility to third-party service providers.

Benefits of Patch Management

Here are some of the benefits of patch management:

Improves Software Security

Securing software from external attacks is the most important objective of patching software. If there is a security flaw, cybercriminals can exploit it to gain access to your systems. Patches from your software vendors prevent those attacks. Patch management ensures that the patches are applied in a timely manner. If your IT team is applying patches manually, it’s easy to miss devices. Patch management tools take care of the process automatically, thus removing human-error possibilities.

Eliminates Retired Software

Software vendors support their applications for a certain time period. End-user license agreement (EULA) defines the terms. During that period, the vendor provides patches for any problems. However, businesses often struggle with keeping track of the end-of-life of a product. So a software might be still operational even though the vendor has stopped patching it. Patch management automates the detection of such software and takes them out of service.

Keeps Antivirus in Good Health

Antivirus programs detect new threats. But they can only detect the latest threats if they are patched with new updates. Patch management systems ensure that the antivirus programs have the latest patches applied.

Saves Time and Money

Patch management saves time and money in two ways. First, it relieves the IT staff from the drudgery of keeping track of all the necessary updates. IT departments don’t have to waste their resources on manual tasks. Second, any breach of your system will cause temporal and financial losses. Patch management tools prevent attacks and shield you against those breaches.

Effective Patch Management

Some things to remember for effective patch management:

  • Understand your organization. Every organization is different. Make sure you have the patch management tools that will serve your pipeline.
  • Run your patch management tools on a regular schedule. Sometimes you have to take your devices or applications offline to patch a software. So select your patch management schedule to have minimal impact on your day-to-day operations. For example, run patches during night time or weekends. Also, a regular schedule will help your infrastructure always stay up-to-date on the latest patches.
  • Invest in the right resources. Depending on your organization, you might need to train staff or hire a third-party service provider for a patch management system. The right resources improve your chances of having an effective solution.

Do you need help with your patch management implementation? At Cleartech Group, we have gathered a group of experts who have knowledge and expertise in various patch management tools. Contact us today at (978) 466-1938 or at www.cleartechgroup.com.  Our experts can help you.