How Live Patching Can Help Manage Vulnerabilities
Vulnerability management is a critical process for organizations to ensure the security and integrity of their systems and data. Core to proper vulnerability management is vulnerability patching, which fixes security issues before attackers can exploit them. Many forward-thinking organizations now also leverage live patching, a non-disruptive and automated vulnerability patching approach that enables IT and SecOps teams to keep their systems patched without downtime or end-user interruptions.
In this blog post, we’ll be discussing how live patching can help mitigate security risks that organizations are faced with on a regular basis while minimizing downtime and lightening IT workloads that are associated with a conventional patching approach.
Why Live Kernel Patching Is an Essential Tool for Vulnerability Management
When the Linux kernel needs to be patched, organizations run into a number of challenges. This is because the kernel, or the ‘brain’ of the Linux OS, needs to be rebooted and taken out of production to apply a security patch. Traditional kernel vulnerability management methods typically involve a reboot, which entails manual patching and can be time consuming and resource intensive.
Additionally, kernel patching often requires system downtime, which can disrupt business operations and lead to revenue loss. However, that isn’t the case with live patching.
Live patch – which deploys patches while the kernel is running – has several benefits when compared to traditional patching methods, such as reducing the need for manual intervention, minimizing the risk of system downtime, and applying patches quickly after they’re released.
Additionally, live patching can help organizations meet compliance requirements by ensuring that critical vulnerabilities are addressed promptly and effectively.
How Live Patching Works
While we’ve discussed how live patching is the ideal solution, let’s understand how the process works. TuxCare, a leading innovator in live patching technology, offers a popular live patching solution called KernelCare Enterprise – which deploys live patches like this:
We monitor new vulnerabilities
The TuxCare team is always on watch. As soon as a new vulnerability affecting a Linux kernel (on most popular Linux distributions) is announced, we immediately start working on a new patch.
The patch is created
Our team creates code that patches insecure kernel code with a secure, but functionally equivalent, replacement.
The patch is prepared for application
We put together every patch that affects the impacted kernel and deploy it to our distribution servers.
Users receive the patch
A KernelCare process running on the Linux user’s server checks our distribution servers every four hours. If a new security patch is ready, it can then be downloaded and deployed to your running kernel – a process that can be automated.
The patch is applied
After our customers receive that patch, it is then sent to the KernelCare Enterprise kernel module, which – in just nanoseconds – halts all processes, loads the updated code into the secure kernel space, redirects all functions to the updated code – and the kernel immediately resumes as if nothing happened. Because this all takes place so quickly (almost instantly), no processes are disrupted.
Is Live Patching Right for You?
Regular patching and testing of vulnerabilities and bugs can help ensure the security and stability of your system, as you don’t have to wait for a maintenance window from the original vendor to tackle potential security incidents, prevent exposure, and ultimately add posture to an organization’s vulnerability management.
Live patching takes this process and automates, accelerates, and simplifies it so that teams can put regular vulnerability patching on autopilot.
Thanks to live patching, you can now mitigate the risk of your organization while avoiding patching-related downtime, disruption, and revenue loss. Speak to a TuxCare expert to learn how you can get started with live patching for all popular Linux distributions – at an affordable price.