Security and Compliance

Rapid Software Patching Required: A Strategic Guide for IT Directors and CISOs

Topics: Security and Compliance, Third Party Patching

Data = currency.

Threat actors capitalize on this reality, creating an ominous cloud always looming over organizations. For years, IT Directors and CISOs, tasked with ensuring the security of their organization’s digital environment, focused foremost on phishing threats. As a result, organizations have improved their security practices to protect against it. Phishing-resistant MFA has, for one, moved IT security forward meaningfully. Now a new exploitation channel has taken the reins as the primary attack method. 

Time to Elevate Rapid Software Patching 

If your organization’s security strategies aren’t giving prime attention to rapid software patching, you’re essentially sitting on a ticking time bomb. The 2022 Top Routinely Exploited Vulnerabilities report lists “timely patching” as a top priority, underscoring the importance of not letting patch management slide. 

The Unseen Reality of IT Vulnerabilities 

If you think you haven’t been breached yet, you’re possibly lying to yourself. If you truly haven’t been yet, great emphasis must be placed on “yet.” Cybersecurity experts consistently state that breaches are grossly underreported, with only a fraction of breaches making headlines.

Additionally, just because a breach hasn’t crippled your operations doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. Unfortunately, the underreporting of breaches misleads organizations into a false sense of security.   

The Rising Costs of Complacency 

Unpatched software has become the greatest vulnerability, exposing organizations to great risk. A breach can cost upwards of $250,000 in the first week of incident response alone. Then comes the potential fines, the damage to brand reputation, ongoing disruptions internally and externally and their financial costs, and the ripple effects on customer trust.   

In reality, the blow of a breach sets back companies for many months or even years. 

Rapid Software Patching Required

Patching 2.0: Risk Versus Control 

Automated, rapid patching is the future. Depending upon your organization, the urgency and approach will likely differ.  

Organization A: 100% Uptime Required 

In sectors where even a short downtime is unacceptable—utilities and health care, for example—a finely-tuned, methodical patching approach is warranted. Automated patching solutions like Application Manager help streamline the process, enabling the rapid identification of patches across hundreds of titles, followed by a swift package send to a test group for validation before a system-wide deployment. 

Organization B: Security-First  

For some organizations, the risk of deploying untested patches is outweighed by the risk of a breach. For these organizations, both traditional methods of manual patching or scheduled updates that follow a methodical pre-production, test, then deploy strategy are insufficient for achieving necessary compliance and security levels. These organizations will leverage automated solutions and then push patches rapidly—without testing in some situations. 

Automating and pushing patches rapidly without testing will come with the side effect of occasional bugs. These bugs may slow down operations for select users for an hour or two.* However, when these companies ask, “Would we rather risk a short downtime due to a flawed patch or open our organizations to a potential breach?” The answer is clear. Downtime is a manageable hiccup. A breach is a crippling blow. This is a matter of control, and these companies won’t relinquish it to external threats when they can maintain it well with the necessary tools. 

*Thankfully, third-party patching software providers do the testing for organizations, greatly minimizing the risk of bugs being deployed in your environment. However, Microsoft software patches also contain occasional bugs, and these are typically deployed directly through Microsoft UEMs. 

Rapid Software Patching: Automation at the Ready 

Windows Update and Azure offer real-time and auto-patch features that take the manual load off your IT team, letting patches flow rapidly to Windows applications in need of them.  

Automating updates for your primary OS are a clear step in the right direction. But what about your third-party applications? That’s where Application Manager comes into play. Designed for organizations using Intune, ConfigMgr, or WSUS, Application Manager streamlines third-party patching from one easy-to-use, centralized location. By automating patching, you are hardening your security infrastructure, while also saving your IT team significant time. 

Critical Controls: The Core of Security 

Well-managed software inventories are not just a best practice; they are a critical control point for robust cybersecurity. Simplifying your digital environment reduces risk very significantly. Instead of having to patch multiple versions of software, your IT teams can instead focus on keeping a single version up-to-date, significantly reducing your vulnerability surface area.  

The Center for Internet Security identifies up-to-date hardware inventory as the most critical control, closely followed by an up-to-date software inventory. However, achieving a truly up-to-date software inventory is far from straightforward, especially if Zero Trust principles are not in place. In environments with lax admin rights, you’ll often find end-users downloading unregulated software or rogue versions of approved software, opening backdoors for security threats.   

Recast Software offers a powerful one-two punch for your IT security needs. Privilege Manager, our sleek and user-friendly Privileged Access Management (PAM) solution, works in tandem with Application Manager to streamline your software inventory and effectively govern the entire application lifecycle. Privilege Manager ensures that only authorized personnel have the necessary permissions to install or modify software, tightening up potential loopholes in your security.  

But how can you manage what you can’t see? Enter Endpoint Insights. Typically, user-installed software escapes inventory counts, leaving unnerving holes in your security strategy. Endpoint Insights changes the game by not only capturing these elusive pieces of software but also by providing comprehensive reports that lay out all applications installed within your environment. In essence, Endpoint Insights provides a holistic software inventory for your IT teams, empowering them with the data they need to secure the environment and make informed decisions. 

A Reliability-Centric View of Software Patching

When assessing the current threat landscape, organizations must apply well-tuned application management and patching protocols. Application Manager accommodates both rapid and methodical patching methodologies, enabling you to align your patching strategy with your risk profile and unique needs. 

Additionally, leveraging the synergy between Application Manager, Privilege Manager, and Endpoint Insights further elevates your security posture, keeping vulnerabilities at bay while also keeping you up to date with the latest cybersecurity best practices. A comprehensive and current inventory isn’t just a good idea—it’s an essential line of defense.  

Recast Software is committed to helping you stay ahead in the rapidly evolving landscape of endpoint management and security. Learn more here or reach out to our experts to see how Recast can help harden your environment. 

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