Patch Management: Your First Line of Defense Against Cyberthreats
2020 was a watershed moment for the cybersecurity industry, as businesses embraced remote work models. The rush to adopt remote environments has created security gaps that could benefit hackers while overburdening employees, including cybersecurity teams.
While companies may not have complete control over how their employees use their skills to prevent intrusion, proper patch management may provide a backup defense against breaches.
What are the Consequences of a Deficient Patch Management System?
Expert hackers evade security infrastructure by targeting cloud tools such as dropbox, google drive, and dropbox in one of the most unexpected attacks. As they sync data between remote devices and internal organizational systems, these tools can pass malware undetected.
Other threats include:
- Watering hole attacks, in which hackers target users’ favorite websites and infect them with malware.
- Ransomware spreads via emails, compressed files, or PDFs.
- Errors made by users compromise code or cause malware to be installed.
- Duplicate mobile applications.
Companies should implement highly automated patch management systems that operate in a manner similar to zero-trust principles. Such systems can examine every computer that connects to an organization’s network and ensure that none poses a security risk that could jeopardize the company’s security.
This type of automation can detect threats and deploy fixes around the clock, making it more efficient than humans. It can ensure that all devices are updated to the latest versions before connecting to the network and provide insight into the areas where your IT team should focus its efforts.
Technology vendors are quick to deliver patches, usually within an hour of detection. However, their generic market approach does not ensure security against spearfishing attacks, which are custom-built with great care.
Spearphishing attacks are socially engineered by experts to be as convincing as possible for a specific target. They can convincingly imitate the brand, incorporating assets such as logos, resembling names, and timely suspicious subjects/topics.
Phishing attacks are becoming more common, with a preference for URL-initiated exploits. Such threats have a high rate of patch adaptation, making it difficult for less resourceful organizations to remain competitive.
Employee and external infrastructure users can be educated on a regular basis to help reduce the frequency of such attacks.
It is also critical to implement a standardized patch management system across all devices in the organization. Corporates, for example, should implement a compliance datum across all managed environments within the organization.
Enterprises should also declare minimum compatible app versions and develop new solutions for affected areas. Having a baseline app version directs your security infrastructure’s attention to fewer threats, increasing its efficiency.
Other precautions include
- Devising backup plans in the event of a patch failure.
- Patches are tested in controlled environments to avoid disruption.
- Training personnel on the available contingencies to allow for a faster response in the event of a deployment malfunction.
- After each patch, confirm compliance.
- Consistency in patching programs is ensured.
Patch management protocols must at the very least include configuration assessment, perimeter hardening, user training, and a backup plan. Minor vulnerabilities, if not properly managed, can lead to financial losses, compliance irregularities, reputation damage, and operational disruption.