It seems we can’t go a single day anymore without our operating system, application, tablet, mobile phone, and even smart watch asking for a software update. While sometimes these updates bring new features or cosmetic fixes, they almost invariably include security fixes too. Nearly every piece of modern software a consumer uses has bugs, and as they become known to the software vendor, they are constantly working to patch these bugs. That’s part of the reason for these regular release schedules.
The short answer is… everything. But here’s a quick list to be thinking about:
Another area that’s becoming more prominent is the Internet of Things (IoT). Many of our other devices these days are connected to our networks, and unless we’ve secured them other ways, we should be considering them in the fold of devices we manage and maintain software updates for:
The most important thing patching does for your business is adds security to the environment. Patches fix known vulnerabilities. Once vulnerabilities are known to hackers, they become much faster and easier for them to exploit. Because hackers know many individuals and businesses don’t have good update hygiene, there will be a lot of people that can still take advantage of this even though the software bug has already been fixed by the vendor. Sometimes hackers aren’t even aware of a vulnerability until the patch is released by the vendor. Still to this day, there are computers and devices on the Internet that are susceptible to very old malicious software (viruses, malware, adware, ransomware, etc.) even though a patch has long been released. The easiest way to keep most risks at bay is good patch management.
There are risks called “zero-day” attacks. These are vulnerabilities that are often discovered by hackers and are usually unknown to the software manufacturer as well. In fact, there’s a whole dark market of people selling zero- day attacks, and depending on what they do, they can be very valuable to criminals. Patching won’t help zero-day attacks when malicious software attacks it immediately, but good patch strategy will help when the software manufacturer releases a patch, which is usually really fast. This is also why other security measures like AV/AM software and deep packet inspection (DPI) firewalls are important, among a few other things outside of this blog post.
One option, of course, is to hire a Managed Services Provider like Be Structured to manage this for you. There’s the plug for our services. But if you want to do it on your own here’s the quick list of what to do:
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