Software is an absolutely vital part of your business – and many other aspects of our lives. We can’t live without it. But software is also the component of your business tech that is most vulnerable to attack by hackers and cybercriminals. Weaknesses in your software can open the door to scammers and crooks and give them access to your network. How do you stop them? There’s an unsung service called patch management that is an important tool to ensure your network security.
When managed IT services started out, patch management was more of a valuable extra than an essential element of the service. This has flipped, and patch management has become crucial. The reason is that threats have evolved, and this changes the way both businesses and IT service providers approach their tech management.
A while back IT departments and managed services providers had a nasty shock. IT professionals typically rely on software known as Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) software, to keep a close eye on all elements in an organization’s network and IT infrastructure. IT providers were therefore appalled to discover that the software they use to keep their systems functioning optimally had been targeted by criminals who’d discovered how to hack into unpatched RMM software. This allowed to access the data of that company and of all the businesses that the IT providers managed using the same platform. As a result of this oversight, hackers were able to infect all managed systems with malware. Clearly, this kind of security disaster is not what anyone expects to get from any IT service provider.
It’s always been a challenge to manage software updates, and as technology evolves it’s become even more complicated. There’s more software around than ever, rapid fire updates are regularly issued, people are working remotely, businesses are using cloud storage… in short, everything is changing all the time. It’s no longer a matter of updating eight or ten files once a month. To protect your IT it’s essential to keep on top of all the essential updates.
For IT technicians, one of the problems that this throws up is continuity of operations. Systems usually need to reboot after a patch update, which can result in downtime. Even doing it after hours can be disruptive for some businesses, so finding the right time to do the work can be difficult.
One thing we know is that when vulnerabilities due to failure to update patches are actually exploited by cybercriminals, the patching is typically six months or more overdue. This means that either patches and updates were overlooked or there was a coordination failure. Add to this that sometimes patches don’t ‘play nice’ with existing systems, and you can appreciate that the whole exercise is never really fun for anyone.
A managed services provider is without a doubt the best way to get comprehensive patches and updates applied, by professionals and always on time. Outsourcing software management to an MSP such as Quikteks will save you time and money, and you can be confident that your systems are always protected. At Quikteks we will schedule patch updating for a time when your network traffic is lowest, so that downtime can be avoided.
If you want to do your software maintenance yourself, here are two key principles to follow:
You need to understand all the software that your company is using in order to make sure you’re up-to-date with all the patches. Make sure you have a list of all the software and when it was last updated. Remember that missing an update can have truly serious consequences for a business.
Schedule maintenance and updating for a date as soon as possible after the update is released. Start with some machines that will function as a test group. Patching and updating can sometimes cause problems, so doing a few initially will avoid a full-scale problem. Schedule maintenance on all other machines for a week later. Dealing with the test group first will mean that you’re prepared for any issues that may arise.
At Quikteks we know that software is vital for your business, and your business is important to your customers and staff. To keep it that way: never neglect regular software maintenance, and keep a close eye on patches and updates. For further information and advice about patch management and security, co-managed IT services or comprehensive managed IT services, give our IT professionals a call today on (973) 882-4644.