Why is Patch Management Important?

by | May 30, 2022 | Featured Article, Guides | 0 comments

Patch management is the process of updating your software systems to address any security vulnerabilities or performance issues that may arise. But why is patch management important for the health of your company?

Without proper security patch management, your company is at a much greater risk of falling victim to cybercrime. In fact, 57% of all cyberattack victims could have prevented their attack by simply applying a software patch.1

Let’s dive into why patch management is important and how it can help your company mitigate risk. 

What is Patch Management?

So, what is patch management, exactly? Patches are snippets of code that you can apply to software to enhance its security or functionality. Patch management is the process of scanning for and strategically deploying patches. 

Patch management strategy generally involves the following steps:

  • Taking inventory of the software systems in your company
  • Scanning these systems for available patches
  • Testing patches on a subset of systems
  • Deploying patches across all of your company’s systems in a strategic order
  • Establishing clear patch management policies
  • Generating detailed patch management reports

Patch management software can automate many of these processes. As a result, using patch management software could reduce the burden on your IT department and free up their time to focus on other tasks. It can also enhance the accuracy and efficiency of your patch deployment. 

What is the Purpose of Patching?

Software developers create patches so you can fix or upgrade your existing software systems. Different types of patches have different purposes, such as:

  • Addressing a security vulnerability
  • Fixing flaws that impact functionality
  • Upgrading software to enhance its performance

Security patches are arguably the most crucial type of patch to implement quickly. Forgoing these patches can make you more vulnerable to expensive cybercrimes.

Patches that address functionality issues are also important. They can boost your company’s productivity by reducing time-consuming troubleshooting debacles. 

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What Are The Risks That Can Arise From Poor Patch Management?

To clarify the importance of patch management, let’s take a look at some of the risks that arise when you’re unpatched:

  • Cyberattacks – Cybercriminals know that many companies can be slow to deploy new patches. The average patch time is 102 days,2 giving cybercriminals ample time to strike. As soon as a new patch is released, these hackers jump on the opportunity to initiate attacks. 

75% of companies say they don’t patch fast enough because they lack the required staff.3 While manual patching can be tedious and time-consuming, remaining unpatched has serious consequences. Fortunately, automated patch management software can make the patching process much easier. 

  • Compliance fines – Depending on your industry, going unpatched could also result in costly penalties. Regulatory bodies often have strict network security standards. If you don’t update your software regularly and keep up with your patch management, you could face expensive fines.
  • More downtime – Falling prey to a cyberattack may put your business out of commission temporarily. Even if you’re able to avoid a cyberattack, poor patch management may still decrease the functionality of your software, diminishing your company’s productivity. As a result, poor patch management may increase your company’s downtime.

As you can see, proper patch management can save your company time, money, and stress. It’s an essential process in today’s increasingly IT-based workforce. 

Proper Patching and How it Protects Businesses

You can optimize your patch management efforts by adopting the following patch management best practices:

  • Use automation and centralization – Manual patch management can be cumbersome. Fortunately, patch management software can speed up the process, thanks to its powerful automation. Patch management software also enables you to enact company-wide patching from a centralized location. 
  • Prioritize patches by risk – Some software vulnerabilities are more serious than others. Proper patch management deploys patches according to the severity of the risk. The most serious security vulnerability should be addressed first, ideally as soon as possible.
  • Patch proactively – Proactive patch management can prevent you from having to enact emergency patching after a security breach has already occurred. You should continuously monitor your systems for available updates and implement them promptly.
  • Test patches before widespread application – Before patching mission-critical elements, it’s a smart idea to test them on a small segment of your systems first. This way, you can determine if the available patch has any issues before applying it to the rest of your company’s systems. 
  • Have rollback plans in place – On rare occasions, patches can cause unexpected performance issues. In these instances, you’ll want to have a data backup and recovery plan in place to restore your systems post-patch.
  • Audit your patches as they’re deployed – After deploying patches across your company’s systems, make sure to monitor them for any incompatibility issues or failures.
  • Limit admin privileges for end-users – Oftentimes, companies allow their employees to have admin privileges on their work devices. Some employees may ignore critical patch updates, unaware of their importance. By limiting employees’ admin privileges, your IT department can manage patch deployment directly instead.
  • Create a clear patch management policy – Patch management can become complex, especially as your business grows and your systems evolve. Having clear policies in place can ensure that your patching is conducted properly each time. Your patch management policy should detail the frequency and manner in which each system’s patches should be applied.
  • Document your patching deployment – Your patching efforts should be documented for reporting purposes. Whether these reports are shared with regulatory bodies or your company’s executives, it’s important to keep track of your patch management progress. 

By following these proper patching procedures, you can protect your business and ensure it functions at its very best. 

See related: Patch Management Checklist

Syncro: RMM Software With Patch Management Support

As you can see, patch management is not optional in today’s high-tech work environment. Patches are essential to safeguarding the security and functionality of your company. 

If you want to implement proper patching with ease, Syncro’s Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) software can help. Our RMM operating system includes patch management for Windows systems and third-party applications. Our combined RMM and PSA service pack also offers:

  • Invoicing and credit card payment services
  • Customer management
  • Automation
  • Scripting
  • Remote access
  • Email marketing
  • Additional managed IT services

Find out how Syncro can support your business’ security, productivity, and profitability today. 

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