Key steps to the patch management process include:
Patching is the core component of securing business, so it takes persistence, planning and ongoing effort to get it right. These several high-level steps can assist you in creating an effective patch management program.
Develop an up-to-date inventory:
A quarterly or monthly automated inventory scanning should be developed on all production systems to monitor and have an informed view of operating systems, version types, and IP addresses that exist, along with their geographic locations and organizational “owners. The more frequently your asset inventory is maintained the more informed you’re going to be.
Standardize systems to the same version type:
Since patching can be a complex exercise on a large inventory with many different versions of operating systems, standardizing your asset inventory down to a manageable
number as possible makes patching more faster and efficient for you and technical teams.
Document security controls:
Understanding what controls are in place will assist you in identifying which patches need prioritization. This would include firewalls, IPS, antivirus, etc. In this case, Internet- facing devices should always be prioritized first for patches.
Compare vulnerabilities against your inventory:
Using vulnerability scanning tools complements a patch management process – it allows for regular scans of the IT environment to highlight and assess any gaps, and serves as a safeguard in the event a patch is missed.
Classify or assess the risk:
Through vulnerability management tools you can easily classify which assets you consider to be critical to your organization and, therefore, prioritize what needs to be remediated. If there is no risk determined for a patch, there is no need to apply that patch.
Test, and Approve the Patch:
Validate that the patch causes no harm to your environment by applying it to a test environment first and including it in the change control process. Once done proceed to roll out.
Apply the patches:
Once patching is started advanced vulnerability management tools can be used to offer the ability to automate the time- consuming parts.
Track your progress and repeat:
Reassess your assets by implementing patch management metrics to ensure patching was successful.