SysOps Automation

What is Server Patch Management? | Importance & Best Practices

The Server Patch Management process is one of the core elements of an effective IT security policy. Small and Medium Businesses through to Enterprises run the risk of serious data security threats and non-compliance with data privacy regulations with end-of-life software patching.

These are the best tools for Server Patch Management:

  • Attune – Enjoy up to 42x faster server builds, 41% faster dataset reloads, and 4x faster system upgrades.
  • Jenkins – The versatile platform that seamlessly integrates with your existing tools and can be used across multiple platforms.
  • Ansible – Experience lightning-fast application deployment and simplified software releases with Ansible

Whenever software is released, best efforts are made to test for glitches and/or bugs. Attackers look for exploits and system vulnerabilities that aren’t identified before the initial release to gain access to sensitive data. Software developers create release updates—patches— to fix glitches and/or bugs that are identified.

To address the risks and costs of a security vulnerability, enterprises’ spending on information security and risk management will grow 12.4% to a total value of $150.4 billion across the globe in 2021, according to Gartner.

Server Patch Management

In this article, you’ll learn about server patch management and its security benefits.

What Is Server Patch Management?

Server patch management is the process of regularly maintaining updates to operating systems (OS), third-party libraries, software, and applications. It involves identifying and fixing flaws in the software, releasing fixed packages, and verifying their installation. Server patch management is crucial to maintaining the security and stability of IT infrastructure.

With patch management software, you can automate every step of patch management and compliance, from detecting missing patches to updating endpoints. The software simplifies the entire patch management process through a central server for patch management. By centralizing patch management, you can deploy software patches from third parties along with server and infrastructure updates.

Automated Server Patch Management: Why Is It Important?

The importance of patch management may seem like an afterthought if you’ve never witnessed any security vulnerability. Yet, it can be very devastating when you finally encounter a vulnerability. By using automated patch management, companies can deploy patches regardless of their location or what operating system they are running. The following are a few reasons why you should consider automating patch management:

  • Extra secure: A substantial number of security breaches occur as a result of insufficient patches. Automated patch management can protect you from security vulnerabilities across various platforms and operating systems such as Windows, Linux, and Mac OS by preventing cybercriminals from exploiting any flaws in your systems before they can see them. You can reduce the risk of reputation damage, security breaches, and compliance issues in the future.
  • Better productivity: It’s still fairly common for applications to witness downtime or malware attacks. When this happens, productivity can drop. Automated patch management, on the other hand, reduces the risk of crashes and downtime, allowing employees to go about their work without interruption.
  • Improved compliance management: If you don’t follow security regulations, you could face legal penalties, so you need a good server patch management policy to ensure compliance. With an automated patch management solution like Attune Server Automation, you can keep your infrastructure and servers compliant with all compliance regulations.
  • Better auditing and infrastructure overview: Often, applications or third-party libraries may get deprecated and no longer offer new updates, leading to a lieu of bugs and vulnerabilities as your applications grow more complex. With automated patch management software, you can easily track and audit all dependencies, keeping track of application changes.

Server Patch Management Best Practices

Identify Vulnerable, Non-compliant, or Unpatched Systems

Today, most enterprises run dozens or even hundreds of different software applications, making them extremely difficult to manage. You can’t patch without knowing what you are patching.

That’s why you need to keep track of all system applications and configurations, ensuring you install the latest versions as soon as they’re available or identify vulnerable or obsolete applications.

Assess and Prioritize Patches Based On Their Potential Impact

A company’s systems contain a variety of applications, varying in their relevance or order of priority to the organization. You don’t want to be patching software that has little bearing on your application at a time when a core component needs an update. In addition to that, some applications require a complete reboot after patching.

By analyzing your patch rating and configuration, you can determine which systems require patches and set a rollout schedule on when to apply them.

Keep Patches Up-to-Date

In most cases, patches are readily available once a month or more. You’ll need to establish a routine and set a schedule for patching your systems regularly.

To do that, you can leverage automated server patch management software to help you apply schedule patch updates and system checks through your entire IT infrastructure.

Test Patches Before Production

Before applying patches to the production environment, it’s critical to test them first. Since every network and configuration is unique, you must test every possible combination, ensuring the patch works properly on your network(s).

Choosing the Best Server Patch Management Software

How can you determine which patch management software is suitable for your business? It all depends on which features best suit your needs. Patch management software requirements differ from one business to another, but there are a few necessary functionalities that the best patch management software should share. They include:

  • Orchestrating automated patching for all applications and services across several platforms and OS
  • Providing software patching support for multiple types of endpoints such as desktops, laptops, servers, etc.
  • Enabling complete auditing and reporting on patch status.
  • Presence of a simple, easy-to-use web interface that’s interactive, affordable, and easy to use, along with intuitive documentation to guide users along the way.
  • Ensuring compliance and security updates

Attune is a comprehensive server automation solution that helps to provision, patch, configure, build, deploy, and manage applications across virtual or physical servers orchestrating the patch rollout to reduce or eliminate downtime. As part of its extensive features, Attune provides server patch management, security, and compliance with the flexibility to stop, start, restart, and migrate services. It provides several core features for managing your configurations and infrastructure across servers.

To learn more about server patch management, have a look at how to apply Linux patches to Docker Node.

Server Patch Management: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three types of patch management?

Patch management is classified into three types: corrective, preventative, and adaptive. Corrective patches address specific concerns, such as software vulnerabilities or flaws. Preventative patches reinforce systems against possible attacks by upgrading and strengthening defenses. Adaptive patches update or modify software to match changing needs or changes in compatibility. By resolving current defects, reinforcing against possible dangers, and adapting to changing technological environments, these techniques jointly provide system stability, security, and functionality.

What is the role of patch management?

Patch management is essential for keeping systems safe and secure. It guarantees that software is updated regularly with repairs and upgrades, preventing cyber assaults by closing security gaps and vulnerabilities. The technique ensures system stability by repairing problems and improving performance. Patch management also ensures that software reacts to new changes, guaranteeing compatibility and smooth functioning. It functions especially as a shield, protecting against cyber attacks while keeping systems working efficiently and safely.

What is the patch management cycle?

The patch management cycle consists of four major steps: assessment, which involves identifying vulnerabilities; planning, which includes determining which patches to apply; deployment, which involves installing fixes; and lastly, monitoring, which ensures effective implementation and continuous security. This cyclical procedure is done regularly to protect systems from developing threats and vulnerabilities.

Why is patching needed?

Patching is required to keep a system’s stability and safety. It breaks down software weaknesses, preventing cyber threats like viruses and hackers from entering the system. Regular updates eliminate errors, improve speed, and increase software stability. Without patching, the system remains vulnerable to attacks, putting data breaches, system failures, and functionality at risk. It is a proactive approach to enhance defenses, increasing resilience against emerging cyber threats and maintaining seamless, secure software and system operations.

Who is responsible for patching?

Patching is often handled by IT teams and system administrators. They identify vulnerabilities, design and implement patches, and monitor their efficacy. In large organisations, this duty may be performed by a dedicated security team. Software suppliers also play a role by releasing upgrades on schedule. Complete and successful patch management across multiple systems and platforms requires a collaborative effort including IT experts, security teams, suppliers, and users.

What is patching automation?

Patching automation involves automating the patch management process with software tools or scripts. It reduces manual involvement by automating operations like scanning for vulnerabilities, applying fixes, and confirming updates. This method improves efficiency by assuring timely upgrades and reducing system downtime. Patching automation reduces reaction times to new threats, enhances system security, and frees IT personnel to focus on strategic duties while maintaining a strong cybersecurity posture.

Why is OS patching required?

OS patching such as Linux or Windows patching is critical for maintaining an operating system’s security, stability, and functionality. It fixes bugs that, if exploited, might result in unauthorised access, data breaches, or system failures. Patches repair issues, improve speed and add new features to ensure smooth operation. Patching the operating system regularly is a proactive way to combat growing cyber threats, protect sensitive data, and avoid potential exploits. It is a necessary practice to keep the operating system robust and capable of addressing the needs of changing technological and security landscapes.

Post Written by Alexander Fashakin

Hi there, I am a programmer, content writer and aspiring product growth manager. I love learning about exciting new products and technologies.


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