Patching Up Security: 13 Best Practices for Patch Management in 2024

Mar 06, 2024 15 min. read

Welcome to Easy2Patch's expert guide on “2024’s best practices for effective patch management.” At Easy2Patch, we recognize the critical importance of robust cybersecurity measures in protecting organizations against evolving threats. This blog, authored by our seasoned team, sheds light on essential patch management practices, including patching best practices and software patch management.

Patch management is vital in cybersecurity, involving systematic updates for software, including bug fixes and security enhancements. Neglecting it exposes organizations to risks such as security breaches, data theft, and regulatory non-compliance. Implementing a strong patch management strategy is crucial for mitigating these risks.

Keep an eye out for practical advice that will enhance your digital defenses both now and in the years ahead, utilizing tools like WSUS, Intune, and SCCM for effective patching solutions. These tools play a key role in patching policies and ensuring software patching is carried out efficiently across the network, IT infrastructure, and endpoint security.

13 Best Practices for Patch Management

2024's Best Patch Management Practices

Here are some best practices to streamline your patch management process. Following these best practices will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of your patch management process, reducing security risks and safeguarding critical assets:

 

1- Establish Clear Policies and Procedures

Define explicit guidelines for identifying, testing, and deploying patches. Maintain an updated inventory and ensure transparent communication across teams.

 

2- Prioritize Critical Patches

Assess the risk level of vulnerabilities and prioritize patches accordingly. Stay informed about vendor announcements to address critical vulnerabilities promptly. Easy2Patch automatically sends third-party applications to the computers within the group the system administrators determined.

 

3- Automate Patch Deployment

Implement automation tools to streamline patch deployment, ensuring timely and consistent updates across systems and minimizing human error. Easy2Patch offers automated patching, updating a wide range of applications automatically and centrally.

 

4- Conduct Thorough Testing and Backups

Test patches rigorously before deployment to mitigate potential conflicts or issues. Regularly backup systems to minimize downtime in case of patch-related failures.

 

5- Track and Document Patching Progress

Document the status of patch deployment and deviations from standard procedures. Use dedicated tools to track progress and maintain an audit trail. Easy2Patch makes it simple to see which systems are patched and which ones aren't, helping you manage your patching process more efficiently.

 

6- Collaborate with Technical Teams

Foster open communication channels to facilitate collaboration across technical teams, ensuring effective coordination throughout the patching process. Easy2Patch’s centralized system allows for easy collaboration among technical teams.

 

7- Inventory and Consolidate Systems

Maintain a comprehensive inventory of software and hardware assets. Consolidate software applications to simplify patch management and ensure consistent security measures. Easy2Patch offers a comprehensive catalog, including over 400 third-party applications and software options.

 

8- Defender Integration with Critical Patch Managemen

With the Critical Patch Management with Defender feature, Easy2Patch can automatically deploy updates for third-party applications to computers within the group specified by the system administrator. This includes applications that have CVE scores but may have been forgotten or not configured for distribution through Easy2Patch's Automated Patch Distribution feature.

 

9- Apply Patches Promptly

Deploy patches as soon as they become available to minimize the window of opportunity for potential exploits and enhance overall system security. Easy2Patch deploys third-party patches as they are released.

 

10- Document New Patch Applications

Maintain detailed records of applied patches to track deployment status and ensure comprehensive coverage across systems.

 

11- Use a Critical-Updates-First Approach

Prioritize critical patches to reduce threat response time and efficiently manage vulnerabilities

 

12- Allow User Intervention to Prevent Productivity Drops

Implement flexible deployment policies to allow users to postpone updates if necessary, minimizing disruptions to productivity.

 

13- Evaluate Patches in a Test Environment

Test patches in a controlled environment before deploying them to endpoints to identify and mitigate any potential issues. Easy2Patch is a software that enables centralized updating of third-party products running on computers within IT infrastructures. It works integrated with WSUS, ConfigMgr, and Intune.

 

Best Practices for Patch Management

 
Best Practice Description Easy2Patch Features
Establish Clear Policies and Procedures Define explicit guidelines for identifying, testing, and deploying patches. Maintain an updated inventory and ensure transparent communication across teams. Offers centralized updating of third-party products, integrates with WSUS, ConfigMgr, and Intune.
Prioritize Critical Patches Assess the risk level of vulnerabilities and prioritize patches accordingly. Stay informed about vendor announcements to address critical vulnerabilities promptly. Automatically directs third-party applications to WSUS, ConfigMgr, or Intune for subsequent publishing/deployment to computers within these systems.
Automate Patch Deployment Implement automation tools to streamline patch deployment, ensuring timely and consistent updates across systems and minimizing human error. Provides automated patching for a wide range of applications. Provides a wide range of third-party applications for updating.
Conduct Thorough Testing and Backups Test patches rigorously before deployment to mitigate potential conflicts or issues. Regularly backup systems to minimize downtime in case of patch-related failures. Ensures easy rollback in case of deployment failures.
Track and Document Patching Progress Document the status of patch deployment and deviations from standard procedures. Use dedicated tools to track progress and maintain an audit trail. Facilitates tracking of patching status across systems.
Collaborate with Technical Teams Foster open communication channels to facilitate collaboration across technical teams, ensuring effective coordination throughout the patching process. Centralized system facilitates collaboration among teams.
Inventory and Consolidate Systems Maintain a comprehensive inventory of software and hardware assets. Consolidate software applications to simplify patch management and ensure consistent security measures. Provides a comprehensive catalog of third-party applications for updating.
Defender Integration with Critical Patch Management Easy2Patch can automatically deploy updates for third-party applications to computers within the group specified by the system administrator. This includes applications that have CVE scores but may have been forgotten or not configured for distribution through Easy2Patch's Automated Patch Distribution feature Automatically deploy updates for third-party applications to computers within the group specified by the system administrator.
Apply Patches Promptly Deploy patches as soon as they become available to minimize the window of opportunity for potential exploits and enhance overall system security. Deploys third-party patches promptly upon release.
Document New Patch Applications Maintain detailed records of applied patches to track deployment status and ensure comprehensive coverage across systems. Facilitates documentation of patch deployment status.
Use a Critical-Updates-First Approach Prioritize critical patches to reduce threat response time and efficiently manage vulnerabilities Prioritizing Critical Patches and preventing human error.
Allow User Intervention to Prevent Productivity Drops Implement flexible deployment policies to allow users to postpone updates if necessary, minimizing disruptions to productivity. With rules of WSUS ConfigMgr or Intune administrator can postpone updates if it necessary.
Evaluate Patches in a Test Environment Test patches in a controlled environment before deploying them to endpoints to identify and mitigate any potential issues. With the rule of WSUS, ConfigMgr or Intune Easy2Patch prevents application failures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Patch management has evolved from manual, time-consuming processes to automated approaches driven by factors such as remote work, cybercrime, and decentralization of devices. This evolution primarily focuses on improving security and efficiency in managing patches.

Automation in patch management streamlines the identification, downloading, testing, and deployment of updates for patching applications. It reduces pressure on IT teams, increases productivity, and swiftly mitigates vulnerabilities, especially those addressed by security patching.

Documenting patching successes and failures is crucial for identifying performance gaps, initiating improvements, troubleshooting, ensuring compliance, and providing insights into the effectiveness of the patch management process.

Organizations should not neglect third-party patches because doing so increases vulnerability to breaches. Third-party applications account for a significant proportion of vulnerabilities, leaving systems susceptible to exploitation by threat actors and expanding the attack surface.

Implementing a patch management solution improves security by protecting against breaches, minimizes downtime caused by cyberattacks, reduces compliance fines, and ensures feature improvements through regular updates.

Security patching is the process of fixing security patches on devices. These patches are software updates that address security vulnerabilities within a program or product. They resolve issues that impact an organization’s assets. By patching components of your infrastructure, you effectively reduce the chances of data breaches becoming successful. This process is critical to keeping your security controls up-to-date and protecting your organization against cybersecurity threats.
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