Challenges of Software Patching

Jun 29, 2021

Patch management and software patching is an essential component in IT. However, we overestimate its capacity to solve security issues. Most times, there is an assumption that if your IT security team is not keeping up with patching, it’s always going to be their fault when there is a vulnerability in your network. Therefore, let’s explore this process and discuss this model of security patching, challenges of software patching and how these challenges can be tackled. 

The Patching Challenge

Software patches and updates are essential and they offer solutions to vulnerabilities, malware, bugs and other major issues. Presently, flaws in software are occurring on a regular basis and software patching is a way to keep everything under control. Therefore, what are the challenges with patching?

If there is a patching problem, less than half of organizations can patch quickly enough to defend against zero-day attacks. It’s a statement that needs to be re-examined. If that’s the only solution, there must be a better way. The good news is that the security team can reduce the urgency for patching and help seal the gap when exploits occur.

Challenges of Software Patching 
  1. Time Consuming

It takes lots of hours to patch endpoints and if servers are restarted, the issue of business downtime will occur. Many people think of patching as just Patch Tuesday with Microsoft. However, there are lots of other applications that are running and patches differ in quality. 

It’s understandable that many customers have experienced issues with Microsoft patches, and that is one of the most known organizations. Unfortunately, other patches tend to be created in a quick way and are not tested properly which can create additional issues.  

  1. Bundled Tools

The two major tools Flash and Java are sometimes shoved with other software, so it’s not always known which version is running. If a patch is found that needs to be deployed, you need to figure out the current version that’s running, how to get it and the correct patch to apply.

  1. Structured Schedules vs Critical Fixes

Microsoft Patch Tuesday is amazing, but other companies hold their patching on other days and there seems to be major issues that occur where difficult decisions must be made. In the circumstance where an emergency patch is needed, but no capacity to get it done, there are serious consequences which include creating breaches, disrupting business and causing more problems. 

  1. Which Version Is Running?

A remarkable challenge with code breaching which always occurs with Microsoft and other products is holding a long-term service branch when a present branch becomes available. Most times, IT security experts make tough decisions such as knowing minimum patch problems and if there is a need for new features. Finally, this adds to the complexity of the issue.

  1. No Desire to Deploy Every Patch

Most organizations do not want to deploy every patch and only the critical patches will be prioritized. This is difficult to manage and if certain patches are deferred, they will be included in a waiting list that needs to be addressed later.

  1. Patching Vulnerability Management

It’s essential to remember that patching does not equate to managing vulnerabilities. Even if all the right patches are deployed, there are always new vulnerabilities and that will become the foundation for many of these challenges. Patching is a catch-up game where you will always start from behind. By the time patching is finished, several new vulnerabilities are likely to appear and this leads to a fundamental issue.

Solutions to Software Patching Challenges 
Protecting Faster Limits Exposure

An organization's security platform can detect and stop attacks quickly without any previous information, no signatures and no tuning needed. IT security professionals must have a unique technology needed to map the expected performance of each application on a workload and protect the memory of those applications that are used to execute operations. Also, any deviation from the norm will be immediately detected, treated as a threat and blocked.

Most conventional security tools are searching for all threats that may be coming in. This could be a problem and an endless game. Some applications must focus on what they ought to do, what they are allowed to do and enforce that during operation.

Checking the firewalls and IPS that are always being deployed, it’s essential to know how leaky they are. These systems are located at the perimeter and are focused on the limited information that can glean. However, we are seeing that code is always corrupted during runtime by these attacks. 

It means cyber attackers are injecting codes that are not discoverable and are trying to hijack the application while it’s running. Some tools such as EDR and other machine-learning tools are created to find irregularities or learn to detect patterns.  

Runtime Protection

IT experts need to offer virtual patching across the whole application stack because it can stop vulnerabilities from being exploited by ensuring that only the proper execution occurs. It’s known that uncomfortable circumstances are caused by breach, which is not because of negligence from the IT team, but because it’s difficult to patch and consumes time.

Software patching is a breakthrough in technology and is important to get ahead of vulnerability and patching challenges. Vulnerabilities are unavoidable whenever software is released, but with an effective patch management tool, it can be curbed and removed.

When new vulnerabilities occur, organizations are totally covered due to runtime protection and their management tool enforces proper behavior. The solution to the challenges of software patching can be done automatically. It does not require writing complex procedures, it does not need tweaking, tuning, updating signatures or a learning period when rebooting the system. All of this occurs automatically. 

Essentially, Vicarius is bridging between the long time when a new threat has appeared and the months or years before that problem is completely patched at the software level. Vicarius is a vulnerability management software that targets cybersecurity officers and operators, as well as IT managers and operators from the U.S. market. 

 

Photo by Igor Rodrigues on Unsplash

Written by

Kent Weigle

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