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PUBLISHED BY ALINA GEORGIANA PETCU INTERMEDIATE READ

5 Free and Open Source Patch Management Tools for Your Company

Patch Management Tools Are Essential for Your Enterprise Cybersecurity. Here Are Your Best Open Source Alternatives.

Microsoft has long supported the patching of vulnerabilities, as outdated software is one of the main entry points malicious code has into a network. While initially overlooked, this crucial cybersecurity process has become a priority for businesses around the world. For this reason, using patch management tools is mandatory for the digital safety of your enterprise.

Patch management tools are cybersecurity solutions that identify software applications running on outdated versions. They then proceed to deploy and install the corresponding patch, which can enhance security, fix bugs or add new functionalities, depending on the intent behind its release.

In the following lines, I will go over why patch management tools are important, then move on to present five free and/or open source alternatives that your company needs. As always, stay tuned until the end for even more ways to up your company’s vulnerability management game.

Why are Patch Management Tools Important?

Simply put, patch management tools are important because they close critical gaps in security that your company may face as we speak. Edgescan’s 2020 Vulnerability Statistics Report uncovered several interesting facts regarding this:

  • Internet-facing applications are some the most vulnerable, with 34.78% of their discovered weak spots being rated as either high or critical risk.
  • Internet-facing network layers on the other hand were the best secured, with only 4.79% of their vulnerabilities being rated as either high or critical risk.
  • Nevertheless, 27.38% of them were ranked at medium risk, which is still a serious number.
  • Unfortunately, internal applications took the crown with 40.35% of their vulnerabilities being rated as either high or critical risk.
  • It took sysadmins between 34.76 days and 60 days to address these gaps in security and mitigate them accordingly.

These are just a few of the concerning statistics presented by the report. If you’re still not concerned about your enterprise security at this point and don’t understand why patch management tools are essential, I recommend that you read the whole thing.

5 Best Open Source Patch Management Tools

Now that I’ve emphasized the why, it’s time to get to the true star of this article – the solutions. To help you get started on your way towards true vulnerability management, I’ve presented five of the best free and/or open source patch management tools. These will give you a sense of what your enterprise needs and who out there can offer it.

#1 PDQ Deploy

Stating this top 5 with a freebie, PDQ Deploy is a free patch management tool that can also be upgraded with a paid subscription. However, it can hold its own in terms of update deployment without you having to pay for extra functionalities.

The free version of PDQ Deploy can install much-needed software patches from over 200 applications. In addition to this, it offers the possibility to configure updates remotely and implement a customized multi-step patch deployment strategy.

KEY FEATURES

  • Automatic download and scheduling of software updates via the PDQ Deploy package library.
  • The ability to deploy multiple applications with one click with the nested package feature.
  • Patch prioritization and customized scheduling that allows you to build your strategy.
  • Inventory scan option that reveals the most recent updates made available by developers.
  • Failed patch queue feature in case of network downtime that automatically resumes updates when the connection is re-established.

#2 Itarian

Formerly known as Comodo ONE Windows Patch Management, Itarian is an open source patch management tool that can fulfill three major vulnerability management functions for your company. It can help your sysadmins manage patches and eradicate security flaws and fix bugs in the software you use daily.

KEY FEATURES

  • Quick vulnerability and system breach detection for your endpoints.
  • Efficient patch reports that are accessible to users in one convenient dashboard.
  • Patch prioritization and customized scheduling that allows you to build your strategy.
  • Instant notifications upon patch implementation failure.
  • Remote deployment of operating system updates for both Windows and Linux.
  • Policy creation for update scheduling according to the work hours and priorities of your employees.
  • A dedicated update monitoring team that identifies what the critical patches for your software system are.

#3 Action1

Action1 is a free patch management tool that is also cloud-based. It scans your workstations in real-time, detecting weak spots and gaps in security in the company’s IT infrastructure. This makes it an efficient alternative against data leaks and other types of cyber threats.

While it is marketed as more of a one-stop-shop endpoint security tool, Action1’s vulnerability management module does a decent job at keeping your software up to date. This is made possible by its inbuilt cloud-directed patch deployment feature.

KEY FEATURES

  • Complete visibility into your digital assets that includes vulnerability scanning.
  • Both automatic and remote system boot options upon patch installation or system update.
  • The option to force-install updates in case of an emergency.
  • An integrated digital asset tracking function that allows you to see what software needs to be updated.
  • Advanced reporting regarding your network’s weak spots, as well as which updates are required and which have failed in the past.

#4 Pulseway

Pulseway is a hybrid between a free patch management tool and a DNS security solution at its most basic tier. This package is most suited for small businesses that have just a few endpoints. To upgrade its capabilities and extend the protection to more workstations, you will need to pay for the upgraded solution.

Pulseway covers both Microsoft Windows updates, as well as 3rd party patches. It has several other features that make it one of the most scalable options on this list, especially if you are willing to go for the paid package.

KEY FEATURES

  • Remote patch and update deployment that is synchronized with your mobile device.
  • Active directory feature that allows you to easily add or remove devices from your network.
  • Online collaboration function that allows for full integration with other workstations.
  • Network discovery capabilities that show you all the devices that are connected to the network, as well as what versions your software is running at and which apps need updating.
  • Additional DNS filtering that fortifies your enterprise security and protects your endpoints.

#5 Local Update Publisher

Local Update Publisher is a both free and open source patch management tool that acts as an extension of the Windows Software Update Services (WSUS). Its main appeal besides it working hand in hand with your inbuilt OS is that it allows sysadmins to create custom software packages as needed, then send them for approval to WSUS and publish them.

KEY FEATURES

  • The ability to use it on a pre-existing WSUS architecture.
  • Efficient patching for both Microsoft Windows and 3rd party software.
  • Integration with updates for widely used workplace apps such as Firefox, Chrome, and Adobe.
  • Compatible with both WSUS and SSCM, the Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager.
  • A handy rules generator that allows your network admin to create custom installation rules.
  • Thorough security scanning for all packages before they are approved to run on the system.
  • Minimal system footprint which ensures that your endpoints are not overwhelmed when running it.

Take Patch Management to the Next Level

Free or open source patch management tools can only take you so far. They are a great starting point for a small business with a dozen endpoints or so, but you won’t get any complex defensive layers out of them. Therefore, if you want to take your vulnerability management strategy to the next level, you will need a more robust solution such as our very own Heimdal™ Patch & Asset Management.

Heimdal Official Logo
Automate your patch management routine.

Heimdal™ Patch & Asset Management

Remotely and automatically install Windows and 3rd party application updates and manage your software inventory.
  • Schedule updates at your convenience;
  • See any software assets in inventory;
  • Global deployment and LAN P2P;
  • And much more than we can fit in here...
Find out more Offer valid only for companies.

A state-of-the-art automatic software updater and asset tracking software, our solution is designed to keep your company’s system vulnerabilities in check. Heimdal™ Patch & Asset Management gathers the most sought-after features of a patch management tool, allowing you to:

  • Keep a detailed inventory of your digital assets and software.
  • Have complete visibility into your network and spot outdated applications immediately.
  • Know which programs need to be patched almost instinctively.
  • Create detailed reports that show you everything you need to know about your software assets.
  • Achieve full compliance with international cybersecurity standards.
  • Deploy Windows, 3rd party, and custom software packages both remotely and on-site.
  • Upgrade or downgrade software versions with one click.
  • Put automated workflows that minimize disruptions in place.
  • Allow users to install the updates themselves instead of wasting time.
  • And schedule updates according to relevant work hours and time zones.

Wrapping Up…

Going for a free or open source patch management tool is a great way to start your business on the way towards advanced cybersecurity. However, it might not be enough to keep high-risk vulnerabilities in check. Implementing advanced update and asset tracking features comes at an additional cost.

Upgrading your enterprise with a paid package means that you will have access to state-of-the-art capabilities in one place. This is key for scalability, as having to pick and choose from various tools that have different functionalities can become difficult from an integration point of view. Paid solutions such as our Heimdal™ Patch & Asset Management are the answer to this issue.

Not sure whether that’s the right call for your company or not? Feel free to contact us over at sales.inquiries@heimdalsecurity.com and let’s have a chat. We can find out what suits your enterprise cybersecurity needs best, together.

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PUBLISHED BY ELENA GEORGESCU 2021.06.18

Windows Patch Management: How It Works and Why It Helps

Windows Patch Management is an Essential Process for Your Network. Learn Why You Should Always Keep Your Systems Up to Date!

It shouldn’t be a surprise anymore that patches and updates keep your systems safe by closing vulnerabilities that might lead to dangerous cyber-attacks and help you achieve compliance. Read on to find out exactly how Windows patch management works and what are the best practices for this process! 

Windows Patch Management: Getting Some Facts Straight 

Whether we like it or not, Windows is the most common operating system worldwide

windows patch management stats

Source

Its history began in November 1985, when the operating environment called Windows was introduced “as a graphical operating system shell for MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world’s personal computer (PC) market with over 90% market share, overtaking Mac OS, which had been introduced in 1984.”

Windows patch management refers to the process of managing this operating system’s patches, where: 

  • a patch is “a piece of software code that improves an installed program – you can literally think about it as a <<bandage>> applied to software”, and:
  • patch management can be defined as theprocess that involves the acquisition, review, and deployment of patches on an organization’s systems. This practice helps IT staff keep up with newly released patches and make sure the updates are correctly deployed, check their status after deployment, and log the procedure.” 

Windows Patch Management: Automatic Windows Updates 

Patches are essential for closing system and application vulnerabilities and certify that everything works as it should. When talking about Windows patches, some updates are done automatically after being released by Microsoft at the beginning of every month. 

This feature is available for versions like Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP and ensures that computers are up to datewith the latest updates and enhancements.” 

As Microsoft notes, 

You can specify how and when you want Windows to update the computer. For example, you can set up Windows to automatically download and install updates on a schedule that you specify. Or, you can have Windows notify you whenever it finds updates available for the computer. Windows will then download the updates in the background. This lets you continue to work uninterrupted. After the download is complete, an icon appears in the notification area with a message that the updates are ready to be installed. When you click the icon or message, you can install the new updates in several simple steps. If you do not install a specific update that has been downloaded, Windows deletes its files from the computer. If you change your mind later, you can download the update again by restoring declined updates.

The monthly security updates released at the beginning of this month, for example, closed 50 vulnerabilities with various degrees of severity. You can find more details about them in my colleague Cezarina’s article

Windows Patch Management: Best Practices 

Patch management is important for security reasons, but it also increases productivity and helps you achieve compliance. Here’s what you should do to make the best of Windows patch management, apart from using the automatic updates feature: 

  • Test before applying updates – a patch might cause issues in the organization’s infrastructure, so it should always be verified in a test environment or on only a few endpoints.
  • Consider waiting a few days before applying the Patch Tuesday updates. This will give you the time to find out if the patches have any negative consequences. 
  • Monitor the status of patches – the best way to do this in an efficient manner is to choose an automated software solution. 
  • Establish a disaster recovery plan. It’s important to have a recovery plan in case something goes wrong – data backup is an element that should not be missing. 
  • Choose an automated patch management solution.  It will save plenty of time and your IT teams will be able to focus on other, non-repetitive, important tasks – not to mention that your network’s security will increase significantly. Moreover, an automated patch management solution will guarantee adherence to compliance regulations. 

Windows Patch Management: How to Choose Your Automated Solution

What should you look for in an automated patch management solution? 

  • it should work on multiple platforms and operating systems, and with third-party applications;
  • it should download the patches directly from the vendors’ websites;
  • it should include testing features and efficient deployment;
  • it should provide reports regarding the patches that are missing, downloaded, tested, and installed;
  • it should have an easy installation process.

Our Heimdal™ Patch & Asset Management, for example, will see any software assets in your inventory, alongside their version and number of installs, deploy Windows, 3rd party, and custom software to your endpoints anywhere in the world, and create inventory reports for accurate assessments and compliance demonstrations. Everything can be controlled from our intuitive dashboard

windows patch management - heimdal dashboard

Heimdal Official Logo
Automate your patch management routine.

Heimdal™ Patch & Asset Management

Remotely and automatically install Windows and 3rd party application updates and manage your software inventory.
  • Schedule updates at your convenience;
  • See any software assets in inventory;
  • Global deployment and LAN P2P;
  • And much more than we can fit in here...
Find out more Offer valid only for companies.
 

Windows Patch Management: Wrapping Up 

With Windows being the most common operating system worldwide when it comes to desktop endpoints, it’s important to understand that Windows patch management solutions can help you achieve better security and strict compliance with regulations. 

However you choose to proceed, please remember that Heimdal™ Security always has your back and that our team is here to help you protect your home and your company and to create a cybersecurity culture to the benefit of anyone who wants to learn more about it. 

Drop a line below if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions related to the topic of Windows patch management – we are all ears and can’t wait to hear your opinion!

 

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