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Patch management tools are cybersecurity solutions that identify software applications running on outdated versions.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.

This is a necessary process on all operating systems, be it Windows, Linux, MAC OS, or something else.

In the following lines, I will go over why patch management tools are important, then move on to present eight 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 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 79% of their vulnerabilities being rated as either high or critical risk.
  • Nevertheless, 38% of them were ranked at medium risk, which is still a serious number.
  • Unfortunately, internal applications took the crown with 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.

8 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 eight 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 for Windows devices only 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 allow 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 a Windows 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 allow 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 for Windows 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. It is compatible with a variety of operating systems, namely Windows, Red Hat Linux, Debian, Raspbian, and MAC OS X, as well as iOS, Android, Windows 8, and Windows Phone for mobile devices.

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 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.

#6 ManageEngine’s Desktop Central

ManageEngine’s Desktop Central is a Windows open source patch management tool that also handles vulnerability management. It allows you to deploy updates on the fly, configure firewall & wireless devices, remote-wipe company data, and control USB policies. Desktop Central’s uniqueness is its ability to conduct pre-testing on patches and updates before deploying them in bulk. A very robust software update management system.

KEY FEATURES

  • Advanced reporting features. The solution periodically generates patching reports. Very helpful for that monthly vulnerability assessment meeting (if you have one, of course).
  • Supports both Windows updates/patches and third-party.
  • Can help you get rid of unwanted data.
  • Thumb drive device management. Desktop Central can help you secure unsigned thumb drives and enforce removable media policies.

#7 Chocolatey

While it sounds like an app for chocolate enthusiasts, Chocolatey is a very powerful open source patch management tool for Windows, capable of supporting more than 7,000 packages. A word of caution however, this is not for the weak-hearted, since it uses an SSH command line. So, a very steep learning curve, but, once you get a hang of it, you’ll be able to do some very cool stuff like force-install or uninstall applications, create custom packages and scripts. Even more awesome is the fact that Chocolatey is free of charge.

KEY FEATURES

  • Task scheduler.
  • Construct automation flows with simple scripts; great patch management tool for SMBs.
  • Upgrade or downgrade apps on the fly.
  • Commercial plan available.

#8 GFI LanGuard

GFI LanGuard is not exactly open-source, but I chose to include it in the list as an honorable, somewhat free mention since its 30-day trial gives you access to all of its features. On top of that, it’s very easy to use, compatible with all major operating systems (i.e. Linux, Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS X), and has some pretty impressive vulnerability mitigation features.

KEY FEATURES

  • On-demand and automatic network scanning.
  • Deployment and installation of Microsoft Windows and third-party updates or patches.
  • MDM features. Can help you set up Android and iOS devices. On top of that, GFI LanGuard can aid you in discovering vulnerabilities endemic to mobile devices.
  • UX-oriented design. The web-based dashboard simplifies logging and reporting. It also offers granular control over what goes on in your endpoints.
  • Identify and auto-downloads missing patches and updates. All updates are downloaded over an SSL connection.
  • Fully compatible with all vulnerability assessment standards includes SANS Top 20 and OVAL.

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.

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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 30-day Free Trial. 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.

Plus, Heimdal™ Patch & Asset Management comes with a free 30-day trial so you can test it out at no additional cost before making the decision. Book a demo with us today and enjoy the many benefits of our patch manager, free of charge.

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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great post it is very helpful

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