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.
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 the “process 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 date “with 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.
Heimdal™ Patch & Asset Management
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!