Patch management is the process of scanning computers, servers, or other devices on your organization’s network for patches and installing patches when they become available to address any vulnerabilities in your system.
What is Microsoft Windows Patch Management?
Microsoft Windows Patch Management is the process of handling and managing fixes to Windows software. Windows Update is a service that helps you automatically download Windows software updates for Windows operating systems and applications. It provides not only software updates, but also various other Microsoft security patches.
Every second Tuesday of the month, Microsoft releases several fixes for its business applications, browsers, and operating systems. This is referred to as the “Tuesday Patch“. These patches are used to fix vulnerabilities or bugs in their software. These releases are generally divided into two groups — security/quality updates and feature updates.
Fixes in Windows are aggregated, which means that if you miss an update in one month, it will be included in the fix for the next month. Additionally, a high-risk vulnerability may be detected from time to time. In this case, Microsoft will release an out-of-band patch that should be implemented immediately.
Why is Patch Management Important in Windows?
Patch management can greatly improve the security of your organization by removing vulnerabilities in your organization’s systems. Let’s see why patch management is so important in Windows and should be a priority in virtually every IT budget.
- Security: The most important advantage of patch management is security. Missing patches in applications and operating systems are the most common source of network security breaches, malware infections. You can avoid software corruption, data loss, and identity theft by deploying security patches as soon as they become available.
- Review: Regulators want organizations to implement the latest anti-cyber-attack patches that have become commonplace today. Non-compliance can result in severe penalties, so a good approach to patch management is required to meet these criteria.
- Innovation: Patches are not always used to fix bugs; they are also used to introduce new features and functionality. Microsoft innovates regularly in its products, so downloading and installing software patches that include new features can help improve your workflow.
- Performance: Faulty software can cause device failures that ultimately lead to reduced performance. However, the fix minimizes the risk of breakdowns and downtime, allowing employees to do their work without interruption.
8 Best Practices for Managing Windows Patches
1. Scan your network frequently for vulnerabilities
In addition to highlighting identified vulnerabilities from Microsoft and other security sources, a good strategy is to regularly scan and audit network vulnerabilities using third-party patch management tools. This helps identify new vulnerabilities caused by software installation that were not previously vulnerable to configuration changes.
2. Keep an accurate inventory of your system
Keep an accurate inventory of all systems in your IT infrastructure, such as computers, servers, printers, scanners, etc. This includes not only business-critical IT resources, but resources that may not be needed to perform daily business operations but may pose a cyber security risk to your organization. Making sure you prioritize patching all systems in your environment can help address security vulnerabilities.
3. Strategically categorize systems
Once you have an adequate inventory of all systems in your environment, you should strategically categorize them based on applications and operating systems to ensure that they have the right priorities and are properly patched. What’s more, when considering managing Windows patches, it’s very important to categorize your application based on layers such as network, application, and database, etc.
4. Focus on patching vulnerabilities
Your organization has many types of systems and applications that may need to be patched. The scale with which amendments must be implemented is often a reason for not patching. These include security fixes, stability, new features, and more.
For Windows updates, Microsoft has a category of security patches. Placing this category on the priority list will ensure that the security patch takes precedence, even if additional fixes are needed to add features.
5. Maintain patch schedule
It is very important to have a patch schedule for patching vulnerabilities. Very often companies end up patching weak systems once and then leave them without a patch for a long time.
6. Test patches before installation
A significant impediment to making Windows Server patches in production is that it can lead to stability, reliability, or compatibility issues.
Therefore, you must test Windows patches before you deploy them. A clever patching technique is to establish a “bridging” environment that contains production copies of business-critical servers. Applying patches at this stage initially helps you identify and fix any issues before deploying the hotfixes to production.
7. Automate patch installation
With automated Windows Patch Installation Management, your organization can ensure that all patches are deployed and managed to reduce administrative work. Patch automation tools or software can be used to efficiently report patch installation for Windows Server.
8. Report and notify patch failures
After you plan, test, and deploy patches in your environment, it’s important to see how successful you are installing security patches.
Failed patch installations must be properly investigated and repaired. It’s also a good practice to report which patches are installed on which devices to keep patch layouts in your environment.
How Do I Choose The Right Fix Management Tool for Windows?
It is generally accepted that Microsoft update servers offer the necessary security for your environment, but it is not reasonable to rely solely on Microsoft. To reduce the risk of unverified vulnerabilities, organizations switch to automated patch management tools.
This software can eliminate the burden of manually downloading and installing patches across devices and improve overall performance.
In this way, your organization can upgrade all of its endpoints regardless of hardware and geographic location with little human involvement.
Given that there are many patches management tools available on the market to make the right choice, here are some of the features to look for in any competent patch management system:
- Automatic detection and scanning of patches
- Automatic patching
- Testing and approving fixes
- Automated package deployment
- Configurable deployment policies
- Compliance reporting
- Patch Management Panel
Bitdefender Patch Management is a patch management solution that helps automate the entire Windows patch management process from detection to deployment. Bitdefender Patch Management provides native patching for Windows and allows you to configure settings and adjust how Windows manages the patching process.