What Are the Steps to an Efficient and Effective Patch Management Process
There are many difficulties in the patch management process in an operational technology (OT) or industrial control system (ICS) environment. Many companies need help defining scope due to unique hardware and software, inferior or nonexistent testing equipment, regulatory reporting, and system maintenance. As a result, patches become unmanaged.
Let’s create a multi-staged approach to simplify the patch management process and address the issues with vulnerability and patch management. This article describes various steps in patching and emphasizes how we can aid by fusing our top-notch software with affordable, scalable services.
Why is the patch management process necessary?
Patch management strategy is essential to cybersecurity and should always be treated seriously because it ensures that your network systems continue running effectively and securely. The patch management process is crucial for many reasons, some of which I’ve listed here:
Security: Security is the main advantage of the patch management process since it ensures that software and security vulnerabilities are resolved. Because of this, updates should be consistently implemented as quickly as possible. By doing so, you can limit the possibility that hackers will get access to your systems through security gaps and prevent damage.
Compliance: In CIS Control 3: Continuous Vulnerability Management, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) identifies applying patches as a fundamental security control. Since failing to comply could result in potentially severe legal consequences, many sectors are forced to adhere to these security practices.
Innovation: As the software vendor continues to enhance their product, patches frequently include new and improved features. This allows you to stay up-to-date with the latest technology.
Steps to Effective patch management
Implementing the proper procedures is essential for efficient patch management. Following are some of the top steps to improve patch management efficiency:
To begin with, you’ll need to keep track of your software inventory to know where you stand and which parts need to be updated. A fundamental security control described in CIS Control 2: Inventory and Control of Software Assets maintains an inventory of software assets. You can effectively create a list of the necessary software patches using HCL BigFix to evaluate your installed software.
Your network’s potential vulnerabilities can be found using a vulnerability scanning tool. Both companies wanting to secure their systems and hackers looking to exploit security vulnerabilities have access to the same information about vulnerabilities and patches available to fix the problem. Therefore, businesses must undertake systematic scans of their IT environment to stay one step ahead of attackers.
Define your patch management policy
It is time to define a patch management policy that will specify how and when security patches should be applied after priorities have been set based on the critical status of all the devices assessed.
Patch management policies will outline the steps to be taken based on the importance of the devices, the capacity to reduce risks, and the trouble caused by each type of security vulnerability detected. Every organization needs to take this step in the vulnerability management process.
When a server needs to be updated to address two security vulnerabilities, the patch that addresses the more severe vulnerability should be applied first. This is true for any server that holds sensitive client data.
Monitor patch updates
The IT department should check that updates have been installed appropriately and that everything operates as intended after release. Again, tools for patch management are excellent for automating this procedure to complete it more quickly.
Making sure the policies are correctly implemented is another aspect of monitoring. In this regard, the IT team must determine whether a fresh patch must be applied and guarantee that the scheduled daily, weekly, or monthly updates are carried out as intended.
Test patch before implementation
Because there is a chance that a patch could break the systems, best practices call for testing patches before applying them. As a result, it is advised that updates be applied in a test environment before deployment.
To address a security issue, software developers occasionally distribute flawed patches that cause problems in previously stable environments. As a result, it is always advisable to run some tests to ensure that the patch addresses the vulnerability it was designed to address and does not crash the system or cause any additional network issues. Patch Management Process
Create a production backup
Best practices advise a complete backup of all data and configurations within the environment, including any adjustments made to the existing software when testing is finished in the lab environment.
Profile and Document Systems Pre- and Post-Patching
The requirement to baseline systems before and after the application of a patch is one of the more time-consuming regulatory and administrative responsibilities associated with patch management. Any changes to that baseline must be documented and placed into corporate change management workflows to secure the new configuration and uphold compliance.
With HCL Big Fix, the baseline configuration before and after is automatically generated. In addition, the agent-based systems immediately flag any modifications to the target systems. Even more potent is the Agentless Device Interface, which gathers and verifies that patch updates have been applied to networking, relays, PLCs, other embedded devices, and catalogs.
IT companies are struggling to keep up with the constant rush of updates released by all software vendors, which is reasonable. However, automation is essential to staying current with all patches. Customers use HCL BigFix Patch to patch 100 million endpoints continuously. It can deliver a high first-pass patch success rate, reducing the time and effort required for patch cycles. Patch Management Process
BigFix gives visibility and control over every endpoint in the company, regardless of the operating system, location, or connectivity. It offers a solitary, all-inclusive endpoint management solution for Windows, Windows IoT, UNIX, Linux, macOS, iOS, Raspberry Pi, and Android. BigFix is a complete, integrated solution for managing patches, deploying software, upgrading operating systems, managing inventories, managing mobile and contemporary devices, managing compliance, and fixing vulnerabilities. Moreover, BigFix repairs systems roaming on-premise, in the cloud, or at home.