In 2023, the landscape of cyber threats has evolved to become more sophisticated and frequent. As Forbes notes, criminals are constantly developing new methods to exploit vulnerabilities in software applications and systems:
“As the interest greatly expands in users, so do the threats,” the article notes. “As the Metaverse comes more online it will serve as a new vector for exploitation. Artificial Intelligence and machine learning are great for research & analytics (i.e. ChatGPT). However, AI tools can also be used by hackers for advanced attacks. Deep fakes are already being deployed and bots are continuing to run rampant.”
And yet, despite all of these emerging threats, it’s the “greatest hits” that continue to prove the problem for many organisations. Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) account for almost one-third (32.4%) of incidents.
This highlights the need for patch management. For many organisations, patch management became a more complex project as they moved to enable remote work, and in some cases started to fall by the wayside. However, for organisations to have the confidence that their environments are secure and that they can embrace the opportunities of remote work and cloud connectivity, finding a solution to ensure patching is more important than ever.
The Importance of Patch Management in 2023
Simply by applying patches to operating systems and key software, organisations can proactively address the risk of CVEs becoming a threat to the organisation. The challenge is that in many cases, when people are no longer in the office, ensuring that patching is up-to-date can become a complex management problem.
With IT security teams already stretched thin, it’s very easy to overlook one system or endpoint here or there, and yet that’s all the criminal needs to have the in they need. Therefore, organisations need a modern patch management strategy that balances cybersecurity needs with operational requirements.
To help tackle this challenge, modern patch management strategies leverage technologies such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline the patching process. One example of a company in this space is ESET with its ESET Enterprise solution.
ESET Enterprise provides a comprehensive solution for vulnerability and patch management with automation built in. It offers an additional layer of security by actively tracking vulnerabilities in operating systems and common applications, with automated or manual patching across all endpoints managed through a unified platform. This includes automated scanning of all endpoints within the environment, across both operating system and third-party applications, with instant reporting to the console and rapid, automatic patching.
The solution also takes a best practices approach, particularly with regard to triage. Because there are so many threats that organisations face daily, having a system that effectively addresses them in order of concern is important to protecting the overall environment. ESET Enterprise prioritises vulnerabilities based on their severity, which in turn helps allows the IT team to filter them and patch critical security issues first. This ensures that the most critical systems are always protected and, when there is an incident, the damage is mitigated.
Finally, ESET’s solution provides complete visibility into the security posture of an organisation’s endpoints, including asset inventory via the ESET PROTECT Cloud console. It also offers a constantly evolving inventory of patches with patch name, version of the app, CVE, patch severity, and affected applications. This allows businesses to launch immediate updates and begin patching via customisable options or manually when a patch has been identified.
In short, ESET’s solution is designed to make patching an activity that happens in the background. It won’t consume much time on the part of your IT and security people, but it will ensure that best practices and policy are followed through, and no device is left unpatched to become an entry point for a cyber criminal.
Best Practices for Effective Patch Management
Despite the availability of advanced technologies to facilitate effective patch management, it still requires a commitment and strategic execution by the company. For example, several best practices that organisations should consider include:
- Asset Management: It’s essential to have a comprehensive inventory of all applications and operating systems in your IT environment. This inventory should include information about each asset’s version type, IP address, owner, and physical location. Regularly updating this inventory can help ensure that all assets are accounted for and receive necessary patches.
- Risk Management: Understanding the importance of each system and the risk posed if they fail or are compromised is crucial. This understanding allows organisations to structure ESET Enterprise to prioritise patches based on the severity of the associated vulnerabilities.
- Documentation: Clear documentation of the patching process is vital for maintaining system integrity and proving compliance with cybersecurity regulations. Documentation should include test results, deployment results, and any assets that still need to be patched. ESET Enterprise’s reporting tools can assist with streamlining this.
This is where Chillisoft comes in. As a leading partner to ESET, Chillisoft provides training to both the channel and end-user in taking full advantage of ESET in driving patch management best practice across the organisation. Additionally, Chillisoft helps to enable managed services providers, so end-users with particularly limited security resources are able to access outsourced enterprise-standard patch management services.
By leveraging modern technologies and following best practices, organisations can maintain a robust patch management strategy that balances cybersecurity needs with operational requirements, and in doing so limits the risk from a full 1/3rd of all cybersecurity risks.