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The Importance of Patching and Best Practices for 2021 

When working with Windows and 3rd party applications, it can be difficult to stay on top of all vulnerabilities that could lead to potential security issues. The best way to prevent any holes or vulnerabilities is to find the weak spots and use secure patches to reinforce areas of concern.

According to Forrester’s State of Application Security Report, application vulnerabilities are the most common external attack method, making patch management critical to your company’s overall security. In fact, according to the Ponemon Institute, 57% of cyberattack victims report that their breaches could have been prevented by installing an available patch and even more chilling, 34% of those victims knew of the vulnerability, but hadn’t taken action.

Why? Perhaps it’s the sheer volume of vulnerabilities that arise each year.

Info Security Magazine reported that more than 18,000 Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) were published last year alone. That’s an average of around 50 CVEs a day! This number also reflects a 6% rise in CVEs reported in 2020 compared to 2019. As technology continues to move more quickly, it’s expected so will potential vulnerabilities. With so many gaps in such a dynamic landscape, it can feel impossible to stay on top of making sure your applications are safe from attacks.

Beyond the sheer volume of constant new vulnerabilities, patching can be time consuming. A patch needs be tested first to make sure it 1. Works to eliminate the vulnerability and 2. Doesn’t adversely affect your installed software. In fact, 74% of companies say they simply can’t patch fast enough. In fact, the average time to patch is 102 days according to Ponemon.

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How to Have an Effective Patch Management Process

Patching is important so you can ensure your company and customer data is secure against ransomware and other malware, which can take advantage of application vulnerabilities to hack your system.

So, what can you do to make sure you have an effective patch management process?

  • Assessment: The first step is to discover, assess and categorize. This means making sure you have a full inventory of all devices, applications, operating systems, etc.
  • Establish Policy and Process: Once you have your inventory, it is critical to have a patching policy established. This can include what you will patch, when, and under what conditions. It’s also key to set up an overall patch process such as monitoring vulnerabilities and patch release schedules and timelines for testing and maintenance.
  • Take Action: Follow your outlined policy and processes established above in order to 1. Test patches, 2. Roll out the tested patches, and 3. Report to track your patch management and compliance.
  • Rinse and Repeat: Review your results continuously as you repeat your process to look for areas in which you can improve in order to best stay on top of emerging vulnerabilities and released patches.

While patching may be time-consuming and difficult, it is a critical aspect to making sure your organization is safe and secure from cyberattacks. If you have concerns about increasing cyber threats and potential vulnerabilities in your applications, please reach out to our expert cybersecurity advisors. We can provide an assessment of your current patching process and see where there may be gaps before you become one of the 57% who experience a data breach due to poor patch management.

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