Everything You Need To Know About Patch Management Best Practices
It’s crucial for organizations to adopt patch management best practices to keep their systems as secure as possible.
I’ll be walking you through the importance of applying these practices for easy vulnerability management.
But first, let’s touch upon what patch management is and the best practices organizations can follow to streamline their operations while meeting CIS’s compliance standards.
These can be absolute game changers, so let’s dive right into it.
Patch Management Best Practices
Patch management is the process of deploying patches to bugs, errors, and vulnerabilities found in software and Linux distros.
Deploying patches to CVEs – Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures – helps minimize breaches and leaks of prized or sensitive management, and loss of revenue, and is key for proper vulnerability management.
Here are the steps organizations can take for effectively streamlining vulnerability management.
In a nutshell, asset discovery is the process of cataloging an organization’s valuable assets and enhancing the security levels of the company’s network. This helps in identifying software and third-party apps that are unlicensed. Asset discovery helps in understanding a variety of questions that IT software has, such as:
- What are the assets present in a company’s cloud environment and virtual network?
- What are the active threats that need to be immediately patched?
- Which vulnerabilities in your network need to be patched before your systems experience significant disruption?
Asset discovery tools will provide you with regular updates like the status of your license, installed assets, and retired assets. Not only does this assist in scanning through vulnerabilities present in multiple devices within your network, but also quick reports for stakeholders and IT teams to immediately start patching software and third-party applications.
Since enterprises are faced with multiple urgencies and priorities for software and hardware-related matters, it can be difficult to have a security posture in place that is robust while tracking sensitive and prized assets in a cloud environment.
Patch prioritization is one of the most commonly used practices for vulnerability management. Prioritized patches are deployed after vulnerabilities are analyzed and ranked in order of risk. This is an excellent way to streamline risk management along with regular deployment of patches for non-critical vulnerabilities and bugs.
By adopting a live patching approach, however, vulnerabilities don’t need to be prioritized. TuxCare’s live patching solution, KernelCare Enterprise, deploys all of the latest patches as soon as they become available – and this all happens without any service disruptions. Because no reboots or downtime need to occur, all patches can be applied in the background and no patches need to be prioritized. All patches are simply applied, automatically, when they’re available.
This helps an organization in understanding the risk that comes with the value of assets (applications, devices, and databases). Along with the damage that the organization would have to bear the brunt of in the situation where these assets are compromised as a result of ransomware or malware.
There are levels to implementing risk management measures. For starters, profiles of risk management should be in place for infrastructure that is valuable and critical to the organization. Analyzing the probability of an attack on these assets is presented in categories of high, medium, low, or 1/2/3/4.
This would also help in prioritizing which asset is at the greatest amount of risk. Some risk management software also displays the risk of potential assets being compromised in different currencies (USD and EUR). This helps stakeholders understand risk assessments better.
Moreover, risk management also helps tremendously in classifying group assets. This helps organizations take the necessary steps to transition potential risks to assets.
Deploying Regular Patches
For effective vulnerability management, deploying regular patches is crucial. It cannot be an occasional task that is solely performed during maintenance windows – For consistent results, patch management needs to be a non-stop process.
One of the most prominent threats today for organizations are zero-day vulnerabilities. Malicious actors are quick to exploit at-risk infrastructure and assets. So, if the organization isn’t already implementing live patching, like with KernelCare Enteprise, manually deploying patches isn’t going to make a dent in recouping these assets.
Patch management automation, like with live patching, is crucial. Regulating this is necessary as it builds a robust security posture for organizations as administrators can test patches beforehand.
Another practice that helps organizations streamline vulnerabilities is vulnerability scans. These are usually conducted post-deploying patches as they analyze any undisclosed concerns and issues that would cause direct conflict with existing security tools.
Best Practices for Organizations to Streamline Vulnerability Management
Organizations lose millions of dollars each year due to the number of maintenance windows they need to reboot servers and manually patch bugs and vulnerabilities. The one-stop solution for this is the concept of live patching which helps eliminate much of this conundrum.
Here’s a detailed idea of patch management best practices and how they can help.
When vendors replace patches that were deployed previously, the new patch is known as a superseding patch. This helps keep systems up to date in a timely manner.
Once patches are deployed, IT and patch management teams often observe the results and then lower the requirements for a network’s bandwidth, especially when working with large-scale patch deployments.
Automating patch management that extends beyond networks and servers is a great practice for streamlining patch management, especially in regard to third-party applications and software.
If IT teams and patch management teams test patches in a test environment, it assists in ironing out and checking for conflicts with different hardware, software, and IT postures/structure. Fortunately, plenty of vendors offer patch testing as this helps minimize the risk in an organization’s IT architecture ten folds.
Automating Patch Management Without Rebooting Servers
What’s one of the best ways to modernize your patch management approach? Live patching! KernelCare Enterprise live patching offered by TuxCare is an approach that doesn’t require systems to restart while patches are being applied to the software. Automation of patches reduces manual patching workflows significantly, as well as the window for threat actors to exploit vulnerabilities.