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What is security patch management and why is it important?

This article was originally published here on April 25, 2018.

Every day, the information-security community is identifying new threats, new software bugs, and other security vulnerabilities that are constantly putting your company at risk from Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks, malware, unauthorized access to sensitive data, and other hazards.

To protect your systems, data, and operations from these threats, it is essential security patches and vendor-recommended fixes be applied as soon as they become available. Each day that passes without these security mechanisms in place increases the likelihood that your company will be a viable target.

Risk management is inevitable

Unpatched security vulnerabilities provide highly visible targets to hackers and other individuals and organizations with malicious intent. The risk isn’t just to the device with outdated security patches, but also your entire IT environment.

A single security vulnerability can provide a back door to allow hackers access to your environment, enabling them to access other resources, such as confidential customer and business data. Further, they may introduce nefarious programs, such as malware and ransomware into your environment.

If this happens as evidenced by past industry experiences , then it can potentially halt your entire business.

Understand your risk exposure and plan around it

The first step to close the back doors into your IT environment is to understand your current components, how they are connected, and their functioning . With the size and complexity of modern IT systems, this can be challenging, but effective asset management is essential.

Once you understand the components of your environment, you must then compare the installed patch version of each device to the latest release from the component’s vendor to determine where vulnerabilities exist in your environment.

While individual vendors may provide tools to monitor patch status, most IT environments don’t just rely on one type of operating system. Virima will help you manage patch updates in Windows, Java, and many other operating systems.

Just understanding where security vulnerabilities exist isn’t enough. Making informed remediation priority decisions and ensuring risks are mitigated completely requires understanding the relationship of at-risk devices to your user community and business operations.

One weak link could cause failure, so it’s important to determine the strength of entire chains of components. Understanding exposure involves not only assessing the extent of the problem, but also the potential impact.

Visualization capabilities and risk management

Assessing the security risk of outdated patching and developing a remediation plan to ensure integrity of your operations to defend potential attacks involves analyzing a considerable amount of information.

It is crucial that underlying data is current, and then synthesize the findings into a format that decision makers can understand.

Virima’s visualization capabilities can help by serving as the IT discovery tool, CMDB, and single source of verification for your assets and patching information, enabling you to utilize the most current data possible in your analysis.

Virima will assemble the big picture of your environment, including the rich detail about patching versions on which your analysis is focused.

When the big picture has been assembled, the visualization and mapping capabilities of Virima will enable you to trace the impacts of a vulnerable device to the users and business processes that use it as well as other system resources that may be at risk. Because you are analyzing the data in visual form, it is much easier to see hot spots of potential risk exposure, defensive capabilities such as firewalls and routers and other insights that can help you better qualify and prioritize risks.

These insights are particularly valuable to decision makers tasked with balancing risk management with the impact of change, allocation of resources, and communicating with company leadership.

Information security risks are a constant endeavor

Security risks are a normal part of utilizing and relying on technology. Companies depend on the tireless efforts of the information-security community to provide visibility of those risks, so vendors and IT departments can act and develop fixes to close back doors and other vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.

Your company only benefits from these fixes if you install them in your IT environment and ensure security patches are current on all your IT components.

Virima will help you with these tasks and goals more effectively by providing visualization capabilities that enable you to analyze more data, and to draw insights your leaders need to make informed decisions. Virima provides important checks and balances to ensure a patch-management routine.

Learn more about how to make the IT asset security circle unbreakable and why linking assets, configurations and change management is critical by downloading the whitepaper here.

Virima is here to help. To get started, contact us today to schedule a demo and explore the possibilities!

If you’d like to publish us in your publication, please reach out to us at info@virima.com

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