Patch management best practices ebook

Twenty-five percent: Any idea what this percentage is referring to? Let’s take some wild guesses:

A five-year CAGR of your investments? Your yearly salary hike?

If any of your guesses were remotely close to these happy responses, we’re sorry to break your heart!

This percentage depicts the rise in the number of identified vulnerabilities in 2022 over the previous year. 2022 saw an alarming spike of 25% in identified vulnerabilities, the count rising to 25,227 from 20,171 previously.

It doesn’t end here

Since the start of 2023, the following have already been reported:

  • 13,991 vulnerabilities

  • More than 450 ransomware incidents

  • 39 zero-day security flaws

 You don’t have to be an IT admin or have an advanced cybersecurity degree to understand how urgent this situation is. Anyone familiar with the current threat landscape can gauge the havoc looming on network and endpoint security.

Problems? Many. Solutions? Let’s start with one   

When we speak of vulnerabilities and zero-day security flaws, and the ways to mitigate them, patch management wriggles its way into the back of our minds, whether we’re cybersecurity professionals or threat actors.

But can the same be said about ransomware incidents? Let’s take a look at what experts have to say.

Ransomware insights from front-line responders state, “68% of [ransomware]-impacted organizations did not have an effective vulnerability and patch management process, and a high dependence on manual processes versus automated patching led to critical openings.”

If this isn’t convincing enough, how about WannaCry? Cybersecurity experts, IT admins, and everyone else who has seen the ransomware prowl would testify to the horrors of it. By exploiting a vulnerability in the Microsoft Windows Server Message Block protocol, this ransomware exploited systems across the world, with damages amounting to over $10 billion.

What’s more? Even after half a decade since this ransomware variant was detected, several cases of WannaCry were reported in 2022 and “were the result of infections from three to five years ago and occurred on old, unpatched equipment,” states IBM’s X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2023.

With all of the data available, if one were to make an informed decision on what could be the primary solution to fending off ransomware attacks, zero-day exploits, and software vulnerabilities, the answer would be nothing but patch management.

How reliable is this solution? 

A look into last year’s record of exploits tells us that 26% of the vulnerabilities reported or identified had known exploits. If we compare that to the early 1990s, “[this] proportion has been dropping in recent years, showcasing the benefit of a well-maintained patch management process,” reports IBM.

Since patch management became a thing in 2001, organizations have increasingly focused on adopting it to secure their cyber assets. From being considered an IT admin’s task to becoming the primary defender against cyberattacks and exploits, patch management has come a long way.

To put things in perspective, the current global patch management market is currently valued at $721.7 million. As per Market Data Forecasts, this segment is projected to grow to $1.19 billion by 2028. This CAGR of 10.7% proves how important patching is for organizations to combat cyberattacks targeting vulnerabilities, not to mention the steady, stubborn, persistent growth in the number of vulnerabilities identified every year.

Would you let your enterprise network be exploited? 

Unless you’re a malicious actor planning an insider attack, the answer would definitely be a no! But a no doesn’t guarantee the security of endpoints in your network from vulnerabilities, zero-day security flaws, or ransomware attacks.

If your organization doesn’t have a patch management solution yet, it’s time to act now! If yours is already using one, it’s time to verify if the solution is capable of:

  • Scanning and detecting missing patches in real time.

  • Deploying patches to Windows, macOS, Linux, and more than 850 third-party applications.

  • Automating the entire patch management process to mitigate manual errors.

  • Integrating with third-party vulnerability scanners for rapid detection and mitigation.

  • Enabling end users to skip or postpone deployment in case they are held up with business-critical tasks.

  • Generating real-time reports for audits and compliance.

  • Offering all of the above from a single console.

 Even if one of the above is a no, it’s time to rethink your strategy!

If you want to ensure a secure network and keep your enterprise on top of the patching game at all times, you know where to look.

Anupam Kundu
Product Specialist at ManageEngine