Patch Management: The Importance, Common Issues, and Strategies for Improvement

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Cybersecurity Threats: Alarming Trends

  • “Last year witnessed a 15% increase in cyberattack volume, with severity rising by 23%.”
  • “Within the past two years, 48% of organizations have fallen victim to data breaches.”
  • “A majority of breach victims (57%) admitted that their vulnerabilities were already patchable.”
  • “34% of the victims were aware of their susceptibility before the breach occurred.”
  • “54% of respondents believe that hackers are outpacing organizations through advanced technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

Patch Management: Why It Matters

  • Organizations that effectively prevent breaches rate their ability to patch vulnerabilities 41% higher than those that have experienced breaches.

Patch Management: Challenges and Flaws

  • On average, organizations spend 321 hours each week managing vulnerability response, equivalent to eight full-time employees. Shockingly, 37% of breach victims do not scan for vulnerabilities.
  • Security teams waste approximately 12 days coordinating patching activities across different teams.
  • 65% find it challenging to prioritize which vulnerabilities need to be patched first.
  • 61% feel that manual processes put them at a disadvantage when it comes to patching vulnerabilities.
  • 55% spend more time navigating manual processes than actually responding to vulnerabilities.

The Road to Improvement: What to Do Now

The survey recommends five key actions that organizations can take to enhance their security posture. Let’s explore these suggestions:

  1. Take stock of vulnerability response capabilities.

    • Utilize IT asset management (ITAM) and cybersecurity management solutions to maximize the benefits of their discovery and inventory features. If assessing vulnerability response capabilities manually, do it diligently.
  2. Prioritize low-hanging fruit for quicker outcomes.

    • Online sources, including vendors, offer lists of available operating system and software patches. Determine the most urgent needs by focusing on patches that have been available for a long time but haven’t been implemented in your organization.
  3. Break down data barriers between security and IT.

    • Address not only technical barriers but also political and cultural ones between security, IT, and business decision-makers. Since cybersecurity and patch management affect the entire organization, eliminating data barriers alone won’t significantly improve security.
  4. Define and optimize end-to-end vulnerability response processes and automate wherever possible.

    • Start by automating the low-hanging fruit, and then expand successful automation efforts. Document each step to ensure consistency, learn from successes, and avoid repeating mistakes.
  5. Retain talent by fostering a positive culture and environment.

    • Provide personal and professional growth opportunities for employees. Recognize and reward their achievements.
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Obtain the full survey report and share it with your colleagues and managers. Focus on enhancing the patching process for operating systems and applications in your organization. These two steps can lead to significant improvements in cybersecurity. (For two additional steps, refer to my post, “4 Things You Can Do to Address GDPR, IoT, and Social Engineering More Effectively.”)

Remember, simply hiring more cybersecurity personnel won’t guarantee enhanced IT security. Take proactive measures to optimize your patch management processes, thereby ensuring a safer digital environment for your organization.

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