Managed Patching: What Is It and Do You Need It?

Let’s be honest: applying software patches to computers, mobile devices, and servers is a hassle. Patching is something you know you should do but probably don’t because it requires a lot of work. It’s the cybersecurity equivalent of brushing your teeth before bed or writing thank you notes. But unlike these two tongue-in-cheek examples, neglecting to update patches can allow hackers access to your business and its data, and that is not funny. Not even a little bit.
 
First of all, what is managed patching?
 
Managed patching is automating the process of delivering software patches to all devices in your technology environment and monitoring which devices have been patched and which haven’t.
 
Let’s back up a bit – what is a software patch?
 
A patch is software code that can be applied to installed software to correct an issue with the program. Almost all software programs require patches after the program has been released, and for many programs, multiple patches are released, sometimes for years after the initial release.
 
There are several different types of patches: hotfixes, security patches, service packs, and unofficial patches. A hotfix is an update that fixes a bug or security issue and is urgently developed and released to limit the effect of the issue. Security patches fix vulnerabilities that hackers could use to gain access to your device and data. A service pack is a collection of updates, fixes, or software enhancements delivered as a single installable update. Unofficial patches are made by a third-party rather than the software publisher.
 
Why is there a need for managed patching?
 
A study by Bitdefender found that 64% of all unpatched vulnerabilities in the first six months of 2020 involved known bugs from 2018 and earlier – meaning that organizations were at risk from software and system weaknesses that could have easily been fixed – at least two years earlier!
 
There are three main reasons for a need for managed patching: security, resources, and functionality.
 
The most important reason for managed patching is security. Software vulnerabilities are a common access point for cybercriminals, and once they compromise a device, they have access to your network, technology systems, and your data. Security patches protect your network and infrastructure and reduce the number of access points to your systems. Automating the process helps ensure that all devices are updated and eliminates the element of human error.
 
Next, few IT departments have the tools to know where every device they own is, let alone know which devices have which patches. The time and resources it would take to update every device with every available patch would quickly overwhelm even the most efficient IT team. Managed patching automates the process and keeps a detailed record of patching activities for auditing and regulatory purposes to meet the security compliance requirements of HIPAA, PCI-DSS, SOX, and NIST, to name just a few.
 
Finally, managed patching ensures that the operating systems and application software that your business relies on functions correctly and contains all the new updates and enhancements the software publisher releases. These updates help keep your business competitive, so you don’t lose ground to competitors just because you’re using outdated software tools.
 
But is managed patching really necessary?
 
Patching software is involved and complicated, which is why recommended patches go uninstalled.
 
Plus, network administrators often find it difficult (if not impossible) to ensure all devices and systems are adequately patched. Software patches are your first line of defense against cyber-attacks as they fix known weaknesses that could provide hackers unauthorized access to your devices (and network).
 
Managed patching can help ensure that every device on your network is up to date with security patches and the latest software enhancements. Managed patching tools deploy patches quickly and efficiently and maintain records of which systems and devices have been updated, and which are still vulnerable.
 
So, yes, managed patching is necessary.
 
MCPc is a global data protection company that helps organizations dramatically minimize their risk of disruption from unforeseen events like cyber-attacks and data breaches by providing industry-leading managed patching services. Our goal is to help every client improve their business resiliency and secure their future with the highest degree of security and the least amount of risk.