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Patch Management Checklist: Auditing Your Patches

Patch Management Checklist

If patch management is a pressing concern within your organization, it may be time to start searching for an automated solution that streamlines the entire security patch management process.

With so many managed security services available on the market, it can be difficult to select the platform that most closely aligns with your specific needs. Considering unpatched vulnerabilities are directly responsible for approximately 57% of all data breaches, it’s a decision that can’t be made lightly.1 

If you need help narrowing down your options, you’re in the right place. Here’s a patch management audit checklist that you can use to find the best fit.  

Patch Management Factors to Consider 

To start, what is patch management and why is patch management important

To review, patch management is the process of identifying and then fixing bugs or dysfunctional code within your IT systems that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.2 

But before you can start comparing and contrasting patch management options, first look internally. By conducting an internal audit, you can better understand your specific needs and vulnerabilities. 

So, as you begin, consider the following patch management checklist items:

What Type of Patch Management Software Would You Prefer?

While there are likely dozens of options to choose from, practically every platform will fall into one of two categories: 

  1. On-premise – This option relies on either a customer-based or local environment for the solution to function. On-premise patch deployment allows you to manage operations in-house, gives you control of network security and backups, makes it easier to ensure compliance, and saves money on hosting. 
  2. Cloud-based – Cloud-native patch management solutions automatically monitor and manage the process from an external central server. These are expressly designed for hybrid infrastructures and remote environments and do not require internal servers or daily maintenance. As an outsourced service, this frees up internal organizational resources and provides end-to-end functionality.

Scale your MSP with ease. Start the trial!

What Core Functions of Patch Management Do You Require?

Although every company’s security posture and threatscape are different, an effective security patch management process requires a solution that’s centered around three primary functions:

  1. Asset inventory and management – Identifying and categorizing all of your organization’s critical assets is one of the first mission-critical tasks in patch management. 
  2. Testing – Since your environment is unique to your organization, you must regularly conduct testing to identify security vulnerabilities or missing patches within the system.  
  3. Prioritization – A robust system must be capable of prioritizing cybersecurity threats according to urgency and then deploying the ideal solutions for addressing the specific risks.  

What Features Should You Look For?

Depending on your organization, there may be specific features that your business needs from its patch management platform. Since every company has its own priorities, here are some general features to consider:

  • Predictive patching 
  • Centralized patch management 
  • Vulnerability scanner integrations
  • Customizable scripts for pre- and post-patching 
  • Trans environmental standardized patching
  • Ability to block patches by knowledge base
  • Ability to block patches globally or at individual policy levels
  • Customization according to the severity of the category and by knowledge base
  • Automated patch installation
  • Ability to manage exclusions at a global level 

See related: Patch Management Best Practices

Why Does Choosing the Right Patch Management Platform Matter? 

Once you’ve selected the ideal patch management platform for your organization, you can have peace of mind knowing that it will afford the following benefits:

  • Improved cyber security – Addresses pressing systemic issues that increase the risk of a cyber-breach. 
  • Increased system uptime – Verifies that software and applications are up-to-date and operating as intended without impacting business continuity. 
  • Added features and updates – Improves functionality and features within the system that are critical to business operations. 
  • Maintained compliance – Ensures that a business complies with the rules and regulations governing its industry.  

Ideally, a patch management platform will automate and optimize many of the routine processes involved in deploying patches. With the right system, you can create internal efficiencies within the IT department, heighten endpoint security, improve visibility over the entire system, and make compliance reporting more accurate.  

But the wrong system could create more problems than it solves. 

Just consider the time, money, and energy required to select a solution, set it up, and then master it. If you realize down the road that it’s not the right fit, you’ll wind up back at square one. In the meantime, the known vulnerability the software was meant to address will still be there, with a spate of new issues piling up daily. Should any of those result in a security breach, it could jeopardize your entire organization. 

With so much on the line, you must be meticulous and purposeful in your vetting assessment. 

Syncro Patch Management

An unpatched issue is like an unlocked door or window. 

When left exposed, a motivated hacker could enter your system, access sensitive data, and completely halt business operations. Automating the process with a patch management solution can close those security gaps by reducing human error, accelerating task completion, improving prioritization, and streamlining internal efficiencies.  

But the wrong MSP operating system could set you back months, if not years. 

Want a better alternative? 

You’ve found it in Syncro. Our managed service provider platform not only offers patch management but also provides a range of RMM services like invoicing, credit card payments, help desk, and more. It’s the tool countless businesses have wielded to immediately drive revenue.

Test it yourself today with our free demo.  

Caitlin Good

Denver-based content marketing manager for Syncro. Curator of new experiences: creating compelling and helpful content on the weekday, exploring nature and cities on the weekend.

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