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  • Mikaila Menezes

The Ultimate Guide to Patch Management

Linux users are generally happy with the level of security they get. This is because Linux offers regular patches to keep your system safe from any potential threats and vulnerabilities. Patching on Linux includes carrying out endpoint scans, detecting required or missing patches and updates. Patching is an integral part of maintaining any Linux system.

Don’t know what patch management is? Read on below for the ultimate guide on Linux patching, what it is, why users need it and how to do it!

What Is Patch Management?

Patch management is the process of distributing and applying updates to software. These patches are often used to correct errors in the software. Common areas that usually require patches are operating systems, applications and embedded systems. For instance, when an error is found after the release of a new software, a patch can be used to fix it. Doing so ensures your system isn’t susceptible to exploitation or a cyber attack.

Why Do We Need Patch Management?

Patch management is vitally important to your business and its software. The following reasons will show you how important they actually are.

  • Security: Patch management protects any vulnerabilities on your system and makes it difficult for any cyber attacks to take place. This improves your company's cyber security.

  • Feature improvements: Patch management can go beyond software bug fixes and feature functionality updates. This improves your entire operating system and you will have the latest and greatest product to offer.

  • Conformity: With the continued rise in cyber attacks, organizations are often required to meet a certain level of compliance. Patch management helps you adhere to compliance standards

  • System uptime: Patch management ensures that your systems, applications and software are all running up to date, supporting system uptime.

How Your Organisation Benefits From a Patch Management Programme

  • Continued product innovation: You can implement patches with the latest technology and updates which will ensure you always have the best product on the market.

  • No unnecessary fines: If your company isn’t patching and not meeting industry standards, you could be liable for a fine from regulatory bodies.

  • A secure environment: When you are regularly patching, you are helping to manage and reduce the risks that exist in your environment. This helps protect you from potential security threats

  • Happier customers: If you are selling a product that requires customers to use your technology, it is important that the technology works. Patch management will make sure your technology is safe and your client satisfaction will go to the next level.

Patch Management Process

It would be a poor strategy to implement a patch as soon as they become available without knowing how the patch will impact your organisation. Instead, a more strategic approach should be taken. Patch management should be implemented with a detailed process that saves money and is veered towards security.

  • Develop an up to date inventory list: An inventory list should be drawn up of all your production systems on a monthly or quarterly basis. This will monitor what assets exist in your ecosystem. Through asset management you will know version types and IP addresses that exist along with their location and owners. The more frequently you manage your assets, the better informed you will be.

  • Standardize systems and operating systems: Although difficult to execute, standardizing your assets makes patching faster and more efficient. You'll want to standardize your assets to a manageable number so that you can accelerate your process when patches are released.

  • Make a list of all security controls: Keep track of your firewall, antivirus and vulnerability management tool. You’ll want to know where these are sitting, what they are protecting and which assets are associated with them.

  • Classify the risk: Through vulnerability management tools you can easily manage the assets that you classify as critical and be able to prioritize which assets need to be remedied right away.

  • Test!: Stress test the machines to ensure that the patches will not cause any issues.

  • Apply the patches: Once you’ve prioritized what needs to be remedied first, start patching to reduce the risks. Consider rolling the patches out to batches of assets. Although you stress tested, there may still be some unexpected results in production. Roll out a few patches first to make sure there won’t be any widespread issues.

  • Track your progress: Reassess your assets to ensure that patching was a success.

Best Practices of Patch Management

  • Set clear expectations with your team: Having service level agreements in place can keep teams in check and will make sure that the work of reducing risk is actually being done.

  • Work closely with technical teams: Making sure that everyone is on the same page and knows the importance of patching, is the key to a successful patch management process

Disaster recovery process: In case your patch management process does fail, it is always good to have a backup recovery plan!

The key to successful patch management is ensuring that it ties in with all your other cybersecurity measures and strategies so that you have a well-rounded plan. MRB can help you with this, contact us now.


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