What is the purpose of patch management? In a survey conducted by Voke Media in 2016, it was discovered that about 80 percent of companies that experienced data breaches could have prevented that with a software patch. However, their poor patch management made them vulnerable to cybercriminals who exploited that means to hack into their systems.
Without any doubt, one of the biggest threats affecting the security of businesses today is poor patch management. When companies delay due to poor prioritization or find it difficult to apply updates to their existing software, their applications become an easy target for hackers to infiltrate their systems.
What is patch management?
Patch management refers to applying patches (or updates) to software to fix security vulnerabilities and correct bugs. It is usually done when a vulnerability is detected after the software release. This ensures that the applications are secured from cyberattacks and malware and can run smoothly without any glitches.
What are the causes of poor patch management?
Ensuring that all your applications are up-to-date and well-patched could be daunting. Unfortunately, this is why most businesses struggle to apply patches to their software.
Several common patch management problems affect most businesses. Here are a few:
According to a study by Ponemon Institute in 2018, about 65% of companies admitted that they find it quite difficult to decide the software patch to prioritize, that is, which one is of the utmost importance and should be done first.
This is a common problem with software patching. For this, you have to consider a risk-based approach by first considering the determining factors. For example, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Does the vulnerability pose a threat?
- What is the impact of the vulnerability if it is exploited by cybercriminals?
- Are there regulatory standards that should be compiled?
Fear of patching
As funny as this sounds, this is a thing. Many businesses do not update their software because of fear. The fear that fixing one issue could result in several other ones that can affect the overall network and result in downtime.
Other causes of poor patch management can be traced to:
- Lack of patch deployment reports
- Absence of adequate resources
- Non-adherence to or lack of patch deployment procedure
- Lack of security experts to oversee the patching process
What are the negative impacts of poor patch management?
Patch updates play a huge role in cybersecurity. Regularly updating your systems secures your business from cybercriminals and protects it from data breaches.
However, if you do not patch your applications regularly, your systems risk being infected by malware and exploited by criminals.
Even if it is just a device that the hackers get access to, they can exploit the means to gain access and control the organization’s entire network. Thus, all that they require is just one compromised device. Afterward, they can breach multiple workstations and servers on your network.
Poor patch management can also attract huge fines and penalties. For example, the fine for not complying with the regulatory standards from bodies like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can cost companies several thousand or even millions of dollars.
When a business suffers an attack from hackers, it can lose the trust and loyalty of its customers. Most customers would only entrust their personal information with a company with a good track record of information security.
System crashes due to bugs can lead to network downtimes. Patches are not only to secure software from hackers but also include features and functionalities updates. Therefore, a regularly patched system will work better and faster with a reduced tendency of network downtime.