According to the National Vulnerability Database, there were more than 7,000 software vulnerabilities reported in 2014. If you happened to be using any of this software at the time then your information was at risk.
Software vulnerabilities are created by programming errors (bugs) or misconfiguration of system controls. These errors can result in leaving a door or window open into a computer system that leaves you open to a breach. There are other ways a vulnerability can occur such as the failure to close the appropriate firewall ports during installation.
Cybercriminals are constantly looking for these openings into your computer system because they bypass security controls. If they find them, and once they get in, everything on your system and any other system connected you’re connected to is at risk.
Once a vulnerability is identified, software vendors will release a patch to correct the bug that caused the vulnerability. However, patches can have errors in them as well, and when they’re applied, they could cause a system disruption, especially if there’s been extensive customization. Therefore, it’s important to thoroughly review and test these patches before they’re put into production.
To pinpoint which systems are affected by a vulnerability, regular system monitoring is essential.
Vulnerability scans identify which systems are at risk by checking ports and protocols as well as installed software and OS versions. Once a vulnerability is identified they can be prioritized and scheduled for patching based on their risk level.
Patch management is the process of managing these scans and the related remediation efforts in a systematic approach. It’s time-consuming and complex, particularly for SMBs that don’t have the time and staff to dedicate to it. Regardless of these constraints, software flaws or misconfigurations pose a significant risk to any IT system and should be identified and addressed as soon as possible before they can be exploited.
Organizations often find it difficult to implement patch management without the help of a 3rd party because:
- The monitoring tools require too much time and effort to deploy and manage
- IT staff doesn’t have the capacity to regularly scan, analyze the results, and take the time to initiate corrective measures.
Every day there is another patch update to install. Prioritizing them, testing them and then deploying them is time-consuming but necessary.
Security flaws will always be with us. Managing them through patch management for all devices, operating systems, and applications is an essential element of system security. Neglected, these flaws leave your systems and data at risk.
If you find yourself needing help with this basic security measure, please give us a call @ 501.801.6700 or send us an email.