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The Practicalities of Application Patching

The Practicalities of Patching

An in-depth look at application vulnerabilities – part four

If you’ve missed any of the earlier parts of this blog, catch them here:

Part one: Application Vulnerabilities and Why Companies Leave Themselves Exposed

Part two: Why Your IT Isn’t As Secure As You Think

Part three: The Overwhelming Challenge of Application Visibility

Some companies understand that application vulnerabilities are a serious problem. They know they’re missing an important part of their security stack, and they’re keen to overcome the immediate obstacle of getting better visibility over their applications.

But even they face a barrier – perhaps the biggest one of all.

Finding applications, checking for vulnerabilities, prioritising application patching, and deploying updates isn’t easy. Keeping up with the latest threats and understanding how critical they are is a full-time job in itself. And it’s all of little use unless those hours are spent preparing and deploying patches.

Simply put, keeping up with third-party application patching can feel like an impossible task.

But there are just two steps that make it easy.

The role of actionable intelligence

Once you understand the applications in use across your network, you will need the same sort of insight into known application vulnerabilities. And, quite simply, a patch catalogue doesn’t cut it.

A patch catalogue gives you limited information on patches that are available. But your immediate goal is becoming aware of vulnerabilities – the ones that are yet to be patched in particular.

The right intelligence tells you everything you need to know about a given vulnerability, in a way that is easy to understand. Not just which applications are affected, but how they are affected. How can these vulnerabilities be exploited? What are the potential implications of a successful exploit?

It is only armed with this knowledge that you can make informed decisions about where to focus your attention and your limited resources. The fight against application vulnerabilities is often a case of prioritisation. And it takes practical insights to prioritise successfully.

The role of practical automation

Many organisations are under the misconception that they cannot find the resources to discover, assess, and patch their entire application inventory. The theory is simple, but the practicalities are time-consuming distractions from everything else that it takes to keep a network secure, and up-and-running.

And that is where the most important tool of effective patch management comes into play – automation.

The right software can bridge the gap between accurate intelligence and actual mitigation. Alert routing can get the most appropriate intelligence to the relevant stakeholders. Deployment options can allow you to patch third-party applications right alongside Microsoft software, bringing everything into the same update cycle.

It’s here that application patching becomes more practical. It completes the enterprise security stack without making processes more complicated or costly than they need to be. And it keeps organisations safe from a growing security threat.

Next: Part five – Patch Management Must Be Complete and Cohesive