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Patch Management is An Essential Component to IT Maintenance

Patch Management is An Essential Component to IT Maintenance

Everyday life relies on software to keep going, a phenomenon that is perhaps most visible in the business environment. Unfortunately, it is this software that can prove to be the point of egress that attackers need to your network. Let’s consider a commonly overlooked aspect of IT maintenance—patch management—and why it is so crucial to a business’ operational success.

Admittedly, when managed IT services were first introduced, patch management was almost seen as an added benefit, an afterthought that was incorporated to boost the service’s value. Nowadays, the exact opposite is true: patch management is one of the most crucial components that an MSP like us can offer.

Why the shift? SImple: threats have changed over time.

In order to properly fulfill their roles, managed service providers and IT departments alike often put a type of software known as Remote Monitoring and Management (commonly referred to as RMM) in place. This RMM software allows a network to be watched over, but hackers can take advantage of it as well. In a few cases, hacking into unpatched RMM software solutions has allowed hackers to use them to their own advantage to exploit the companies that had installed them... as well as the companies that managed them. Once they had access, the attackers were able to spread malware far and wide amongst all these managed systems.

Obviously, a really bad look for the service provider—and a helpful anecdote to help describe what could happen if your software goes unpatched and un-updated.

The Challenges 2021 Poses to Patch Management

Of course, managed services aren’t simple on their own, but recent events have thrown a sizable wrench into matters where patch management is concerned. Consider all the added moving parts that so many businesses have had to incorporate into their workflows:

  • The need to support remote work
  • New and expanded cloud capabilities to facilitate this remote work
  • Software management needs
  • Frequent updates to these software solutions

All of these factors and more require some significant oversight so that nothing is overlooked. Plus, patch management also comes with a not-insignificant amount of downtime. Software patches often require a full system reboot to take effect, leading to interrupted productivity if they happen in the middle of the workday. On the other hand, waiting until the end of the day will require the user to restart their system independently once they’re finished with them. If they forget, the patch can’t kick into action.

Most exploited vulnerabilities are over six months old, telling you that something is missing in the coordination of patch management, if they aren’t just being overlooked. Plus, some patches have unforeseen interactions with systems already in place, creating further updates.

This is just a taste of what an IT admin has to wrestle with.

Tips for Patch Management

One of the best ways that you can simplify this is to work with BNMC, a trusted managed service provider, to outsource these needs. Saving time and money is far easier when you can rely on our team to address these potential issues. Plus, we can help keep the associated downtime from impacting your work processes by scheduling these patches to be applied when there’s little-to-no traffic.

However, if you would prefer to handle your software maintenance, we have some tips for you to follow:

  • Know What You’re Using - You need to keep track of the software solutions that you use, just so you can be sure that all of them are maintained appropriately.
  • Respect The Need For Updates - While an individual can maybe get away with missing a software update for a little while, a business doesn’t have that luxury.
  • Maintenance Needs To Be Prompt - Once official software updates are released, they should be tested on a sample group and implemented across your network.

With software contributing so much to your business’ success, your systems need to be properly maintained. We can help. Give us a call at 978-482-2020 to learn more about our comprehensive managed services, including patch management and proactive maintenance.

 

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