Patch and vulnerability management are, at times, interchangeably used, but they aren’t the same thing. While both are strategic measures to mitigate risk, patch management is a piece of the puzzle as its scope is limited compared to vulnerability management. Simply put, vulnerability management is a continuous process involving identification, prioritization, remediation, and reporting vulnerabilities in a system. On the other hand, patch management aims to update operating systems, applications logically, and software, focusing on fixing any errors or bugs discovered. Patch management is among the critical components of vulnerability management, requiring keen consideration to avoid further vulnerabilities.
As you endeavor to avoid patch management vulnerabilities, among the measures you can incorporate includes;
Embed patch management to vulnerability management
Instead of handing patch management as a separate strategy, it would help if you embedded it with your vulnerability management. This means that you won’t concentrate on remediation of every item that hits your sight, but a holistic approach that keeps your system safer. In this approach, you’ll have options such as installing a patch, if available, to fix the identified issue, ignore the risk, or implement compensating controls to mitigate the vulnerability. The holistic approach works well, noting that there are no fool-proof measures that don’t pose potential backlash or expose you to more vulnerabilities, especially if you hurriedly try to fix the problem.
Set a clear outlook
Is everyone on your team on board and accountable for their actions? Patch management can be quite disruptive, and having a clear outlook can eliminate the confusion that could lead to further vulnerabilities. The confusion could affect the process, demanding more remediation to keep the system at its best. The clear outlook, for example, service-level agreements, hold every member accountable, keeping them in check and ensuring that they are doing what’s required to reduce risks.
While handling patch management, the process can take a significant hit due to miscommunication. For instance, while IT teams utilize the term patch to refer to potential risks that require remediation, the security department might use the term risk. Such confusion can affect the patch management progress as the teams, while pulling in the same direction, might adopt different measures that create more vulnerabilities. Facilitating a collaborative environment for the technical teams ensures that they use the same language and follow a common path, a valuable addition as you strive to avoid patch management vulnerabilities.
Have a backup plan
Even the most meticulous plans, at times, go sideways. Recognizing this and having a disaster recovery process can help you to avoid patch management vulnerabilities. The plan details what you need to do in case the patch management process fails. This gives you a head start to deal with issues that might arise, a significant consideration that can dramatically improve your system’s safety. Regardless of how rigid your strategies are, including patch management, vulnerabilities will always be there. The trick here is to identify, prioritize, and implement reliable remediation measures to mitigate the risks. With the above measures, you can implement patch management measures that blend with your vulnerability management, considerably mitigating the risks.