Patch management is nowadays a necessity for every company that wants to stay safe from cyberattacks, and to ensure that their business is running efficiently, according to the latest software standards. However, what some businesses may not figure out is that patch management is only a string in the net that keeps threat actors at bay.

Security systems in businesses may have weak spots, which if discovered by threat actors could very much affect the whole functionality of your company. To make sure that there are no weak spots that could be exploited in cyberattacks, vulnerability management practices need to be employed.

What Is Patch Management?

Patches are pieces of additional software code that can be implemented in an installed program. Software engineers produce a patch each time a security hole or bug is found or the program’s functionality has to be improved. You can think of patches as “bandages”, but for your business infrastructure.

Patch management is the process of acquiring, reviewing, and deploying these software updates to a company’s entire infrastructure, including software/operating systems, IoT equipment, servers, and more.

Benefits of Patch Management

  • It enhances functionality: patches are not only for enhancing the security of your systems, some patches are developed to help in improving the performance of the program. By fixing annoying errors and bugs, patches also have a role in increasing the productivity of your employees.
  • It increases your system’s security: by applying the right patches, your organization is less exposed to cyberattacks or security breaches. Most of the cyberattacks organizations suffer from could have been prevented if the right patches would have been implemented earlier in the system.
  • It complies with regulations: the required degree of compliance with various regulations is attained, and thus fines related to compliance are avoided.

What Is Vulnerability Management?

If we were referring to patches as being “bandages”, then vulnerabilities are the “wounds”. Vulnerabilities can be simply described as being a hole in computer security, that leaves the system vulnerable to cyberattacks. As soon as vulnerabilities are found, they must be fixed to prevent cybercriminals from taking advantage and exploiting them. Exploited flaws could cause IT systems to malfunction, potentially leading to costly data leaks and service interruptions.

The process of proactively identifying, preventing, mitigating, and classifying these vulnerabilities is called vulnerability management and is an important part of any cybersecurity strategy a business could adopt.

Patch management and vulnerability management are processes that go hand-in-hand. You can think of vulnerability management as being an “X-ray” done to an IT system in order to locate its open “wounds”. After these wounds are located, you apply “bandages” (patches/patch management) to the affected areas and thus prevent cybercriminals from having contact with your systems.

How Vulnerability Management Helps Your Business

As you can already tell, vulnerability management is a key component in protecting your business from the actions of threat actors that might try and corrupt your systems. Vulnerability management is a solution that constantly categorizes each asset of your business’s network and stores its attributes in the process.

It ranks the risks and vulnerabilities that might occur based on their perceived threat level and remediates them based on their urgency. A patch management solution will not be able to tell you if there are vulnerabilities in the piece of software that it’s about to install, but the vulnerability management system will.

What’s the Difference?

Patch management represents a part of vulnerability management. As stated above, vulnerability management is the process of detecting, assessing, remediating, and reporting vulnerabilities and threats found in a network. Based on the level of vulnerability, different methods can be employed to eliminate the threat. Patch management is one technique of solving software vulnerabilities found in networks.

The primary goal of the patch management process is to acquire, review, and deploy software updates to your network, updates which are not always security updates, but performance updates as well. Thus, having a patch management process implemented in your business is not enough to guarantee the proper security of your system, but it’s an essential component of vulnerability management.

Each business needs a vulnerability management solution that can be customized and tailored to the changing needs of a company. Heimdal® Patch & Asset Management is a highly customizable solution that automates your vulnerability management and saves you valuable time and resources with a patch management solution that lets you deploy and patch any Microsoft and Linux OS, 3rd party and proprietary software, on-the-fly, from anywhere in the world and according to any schedule.

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Patch and vulnerability management are crucial processes in keeping your business safe from cyberattacks. As seen previously, an oftenly made mistake is thinking that the two processes are the same, which is false.

Patches are not only for security updates, as some patches are released to improve software capabilities and performances. Vulnerability management deals exclusively with identifying, mitigating and classifying possible threats. When dealing with security updates, patch management is a part of the vulnerability management process, so the two processes, in fact, coexist.

Prevent your business from falling victim to unwanted threat actors and implement strong vulnerability and patch management processes in your company!

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