SecurityBrief Australia logo
Australia's leading source of cybersecurity and cyber-attack news
Story image

The patch management challenge

By Contributor
Tue 29 Mar 2022

Article by Qualys, APAC CISO, Rahn Wakeley.

We all know that patching is important, we all champion efficient management around updates, and we all know the risks from a data breach if something goes wrong. So why is the physical process for updating systems across the enterprise still so difficult? What can we do to improve this?

Why are we still here?

To start with, let's look at where we are with patching. According to the Ponemon Institute, almost half of all companies had one or more data breaches during the previous two years. Of those breaches, 60 per cent could have occurred due to known vulnerabilities where patches were available but not applied.

According to Gartner, despite spending on security worldwide growing to more than $150 billion during 2021, these known problems are still difficult to deal with.

While patching an individual asset for a particular vulnerability might not be hard, IT & security teams have not been able to keep up with the pace due to current siloed processes that require manual effort. Alongside this, IT teams face problems when their IT estates are not fully visible, and they have problems keeping up with their current workflows and responsibilities.

To improve patching and vulnerability management, it's important to start with asset control and creating an accurate inventory. Without this list of assets, it is impossible to know that everything is being managed effectively and that all necessary patches are applied.

Once you have that accurate list of assets, you can audit how well you are currently doing with patch deployment and compliance and see any areas that are falling behind. This exercise can show you where the most effort is needed to prevent issues, particularly if there are serious threats in the wild that can be used against those vulnerabilities. 

Putting theory into practice

These steps are standard for all IT security teams. The vast majority of enterprises have services and technologies to help them manage vulnerabilities, so why is this still problematic?

The first reason is that the team responsible for flagging vulnerabilities will not be the one that applies the patches. Vulnerability management typically sits with the IT security team, but patching desktops will be the responsibility of the desktop team, IT operations or the IT service management department. 

Change management can be involved whether you have a full internal team or multiple companies. For example, a colleague of mine who previously worked for a manufacturing company once had to go through a change process with 42 different approvers, all of whom had to sign off on the change before it could go live.

When you have a critical patch that must be deployed, this level of bureaucracy can delay the process and lead to more risk than it prevents.

Who is responsible?

It's also worth looking at your security team's metrics and the goals that other teams must meet. This can unveil surprising facts that were holding you back from improving patching and help you find new ways to improve performance as well.

For example, your IT operations team may be responsible for the patch deployment process alongside maintaining uptime and service availability for the business. In these circumstances, rolling out a patch may affect those other service levels, which can delay something being implemented while approval is sought.

Similarly, the team may want to arrange deployment for multiple patches in one go rather than prioritising a patch for a serious risk on its own. Solving this problem involves looking at how things are categorised and carried out so that both teams win. 

Making this a business issue, rather than a technology problem, can make it easier to get support for more efficient patch deployment and faster updating.

For instance, getting business unit leaders to look at patch levels and updates may be difficult on its own. However, if your company sets a KPI around update status for those leaders, they will want to improve their performance and keep everything up to date as much as possible.

Improving patch management - and by extension, how we approach vulnerabilities - involves looking at processes, collaboration and goals. By thinking about the wider impact that patching has, we can improve how this gets delivered to the business.

Using automation in the patching process can also help. The manual load required to patch all operating systems and third-party applications can be overwhelming - automation can be the solution to reduce some manual work and any updates or mistakes.

When empirical data is used to underpin decisions around where to implement automation, work becomes more efficient. Creating predefined rules based on internally agreed operating procedures can remove a lot of the manual lifting and get things done faster. 

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Story image
Kubernetes
Sysdig unveils new Kubernetes troubleshooting and cloud innovations
Sysdig has introduced two new innovations that look to help bolster cloud services and simplify Kubernetes troubleshooting.
Story image
Microsoft
Global cybersecurity insurance market worth $11.5b this year
Future Market Insights finds the cybersecurity insurance market is expected to reach USD$11.5 billion in 2022, growing to $61.2 billion in 10 years.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
Workato
Workato unveils enhancements to enterprise automation platform
"The extra layer of protection with EKM, zero-logging, and hourly key rotation gives customers a lot more visibility and control over more sensitive data."
Story image
Remote Working
Australia’s remote workers face connectivity and security issues
SOTI's new report finds better video conferencing technology and improved security measures are top concerns for remote workers in Australia.
Story image
Employment
Tech job moves - Forcepoint, Malwarebytes, SolarWinds & VMware
We round up all job appointments from May 13-20, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
ChildFund
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
Managed service providers: effective scoping to avoid costly vendor pitfalls
Managed security services are outsourced services focusing on the security and resilience of business networks.
Story image
SaaS
Rubrik Security Cloud marks 'next frontier' in cybersecurity
"The next frontier in cybersecurity pairs the investments in infrastructure security with data security giving companies security from the point of data."
Story image
Migration
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Noname Security partners with Netpoleon to target API issues
Specialist API security firm Noname Security has appointed Netpoleon as its distributor in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Supply chain
Jetstack promotes better security with supply chain toolkit
The web-based resource is designed to help organisations evaluate and plan the crucial steps they need to establish effective software supply chain security.
Story image
Ransomware
APAC organisations fail to disclose ransomware breaches
85% of organisations in APAC were breached by ransomware at least once in the past five years, but only 28% publicly disclosed the incident.
Story image
Cybersecurity
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Comcast to use ThreatQuotient for cybersecurity operations
Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal and SKY Group, has chosen ThreatQ Platform and ThreatQ Investigations to meet their cybersecurity needs.
Story image
Phishing
KnowBe4 celebrates reaching 50,000 customers worldwide
KnowBe4 has reached the milestone of 50,000 customers, adding nearly 2,500 in the first quarter of 2022 alone.
Story image
Amazon Web Services / AWS
RedShield leverages AWS to scale cybersecurity services
"Working with AWS gives RedShield the ability to mitigate significant application layer DDoS attacks, helping leaders adopt best practices and security architectures."
Story image
Nozomi Networks
Nozomi Networks, Siemens reveal software integration
Nozomi Networks and Siemens have extended their partnership by embedding Nozomi Networks’ software into the Siemens Scalance LPE local processing engine.
Story image
Apricorn
Data backup plans inadequate, data still at risk - study
The Apricorn 2022 Global IT Security Survey revealed that while the majority organisations have data backup plans in place, data for many are at risk.
Story image
Remote Working
How zero trust and SD-WANs can support productive remote working
The way people connect with applications and data has changed, users are remotely accessing resources that could be stored anywhere from a corporate data center to the cloud.
Story image
Cloud Security
Aqua Security createa unified scanner for cloud native security
“By integrating more cloud native scanning targets into Trivy, such as Kubernetes, we are simplifying cloud native security."
Story image
Sift
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
Cybersecurity
BlackBerry offers Kaspersky replacement cybersecurity for the channel
BlackBerry advises that users of Kaspersky software in Australia and New Zealand undertake a rigorous risk analysis of their current security posture.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
AI-based email security platform Abnormal Security valued at $4B
"A new breed of cybersecurity solutions that leverage AI is required to change the game and stop the rising threat of sophisticated and targeted email attacks."
Story image
Ransomware
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
Cybersecurity
The 'A-B-C' of effective application security
Software applications have been a key tool for businesses for decades, but the way they are designed and operated has changed during the past few years.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity prompts upgrade for 1.3 billion electricity meters
ABI Research finds Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and cybersecurity concerns are prompting the upgrade of 1.3 billion electricity meters by 2027.
Story image
trust
9/10 Aussies to stop spending if personal data compromised
"Based on the patterns we are seeing among Australian consumers, it is evident that trust in a brand is exceptionally important."
Story image
New Relic
New Relic launches vulnerability management platform
New Relic has introduced New Relic Vulnerability Management to help organisations find and address security risks faster and with greater precision.
Story image
Qualys
Qualys updates Cloud Platform solution with rapid remediation
The new update is designed to enable organisations to fix asset misconfigurations, patch OS and third-party applications, and deploy custom software.
Story image
Training
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Story image
BeyondTrust
BeyondTrust integrates Password Safe solution with SailPoint
BeyondTrust has announced the integration of BeyondTrust Password Safe with SailPoint identity security offerings.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
How to ensure ethical deployment of AI implementations
The increase in automation and machine technology such as AI and machine learning has unlocked a whole new level of scale and service to organisations. 
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
Digital Transformation
How to modernise legacy apps without compromising security
At a time when digital transformation has become central to business, even the most important applications come with a ‘use-by’ date.
Story image
Malware
New vulnerabilities found in Nuspire’s Q1 2022 Threat Report
“Threat actors are quickly adjusting their tactics and these exploits tend to get industry attention, but the threat posed by older and attacks still persists."
Story image
Cybersecurity
Infoblox's State of Security Report spotlights Australian remote work hazards
Attackers exploit weak WiFi, remote endpoints, and the cloud, costing 50% of organisations over $1.3 million in breach damages.
Story image
Cybersecurity
A10 Networks finds over 15 million DDoS weapons in 2021
A10 Networks notes that in the 2H 2021 reporting period, its security research team tracked more than 15.4 million Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) weapons.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Hard numbers: Why ambiguity in cybersecurity no longer adds up
As cybersecurity costs and risks continue to escalate, CEOs continue to struggle with what their investment in cyber protection buys. Getting rid of ambiguity becomes necessary.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Data Protection
Barracuda launches new capabilities for API Protection
"Every business needs this type of critical protection against API vulnerabilities and automated bot attacks," Barracuda says.
Story image
VPN
The most common online scams in Australia
No one is safe from online scammers, and many of these scammers have capitalised on the pandemic, using this confusing time to attack more people than ever.