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Reduce Vulnerabilities With Patch Management

Ask any IT team what the fastest way to a critical system failure is and the answers will vary. “We need protection against cyberattacks,” or, ”Firewall vulnerabilities present the biggest dangers.” And they’re all correct. But despite these different answers, a likely “duh” that everyone will share is software updates. Organizations that utilize several different software solutions simultaneously know the process of updates. And it’s not just the software, but the computer or device’s operating systems as well. This is the same no matter if a company uses Windows, macOS, or some sort of Linux distribution.

What is Patch Management?

Patch management is a system of coordinating and applying software updates to an organization’s users’ devices along with infrastructures such as network routers and firewalls. Each piece of software has an update process, and managing those manually can be a real challenge, especially when companies have massive employee pools. For example, a small company of 10 employees won’t be nearly as daunting of a task to perform updates for a company of 10,000. And if we were talking about manually updating each device or piece of software for each user — well, you can imagine how incredibly inefficient that would be.

Benefits of Patch Management

Enter patch management. This process is usually controlled by an organization’s IT team or an outside vendor in conjunction with the IT team. Because there are so many devices with potential updates that occur at different times, IT teams can coordinate them all at once with the goal of minimizing user and system downtime.

But as great as patch management is, there’s still one fundamental flaw that must be rectified to take full advantage of efficiency at scale. And that flaw is different user devices.

What is Device Standardization?

Device standardization is the process of eliminating as many differences in the user systems of an organization as possible. Let’s run through a quick example of what a fragmented user inventory may potentially look like:

There are 50 users in the marketing department that use MacBooks. 25 more users are on Windows laptops, and of those 25, 10 are on HP, five are on Lenovo, and another 10 are on Dell.

Splitting the biggest difference down the middle, 50% of our marketing department is on a Windows operating system while the other 50% are on a Mac operating system. On the Windows side, there are three different brands with three different sets of hardware. This gives us 4 total differences in potential device vulnerabilities that need to be managed.

The simplest way to eliminate this efficiency issue is through device standardization. If all 100 members of the marketing department were on the same system, our security risks are greatly reduced because the vulnerability on one system is the same for all, and thus, can be handled easier with less time managing conflicting hardware and software patching.

Patching IT Systems

Device standardization also works similarly for IT infrastructure. But IT systems can be a bit tricky to standardize, especially if a firewall manufacturer doesn’t produce a complimentary server or if some older equipment because obsolete and needs to be replaced.

The solution to this is to try and get as much matching equipment as possible to reduce the total number of potential bugs and vulnerabilities. This will also reduce the amount of time IT teams have to spend managing individual components, resulting in a more efficient and secure network.

Efficiency is Critical

This is just a small sample of the potential issues relating to patch management efficiencies as well as ways to mitigate these potential security risks. If you need help or advice on device standardization or creating an effective patch management system, contact us today to speak to one of our expert implementation pros.

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