Why patching can be hard

As a business owner, you might be worried about your cybersecurity – whether your systems are keeping up with those of your rivals or struggling to stay on top of suggestions from IT advisors. Software patching is often both a root cause and a solution for such dilemmas, as updating existing systems is much easier and more cost-effective than installing new ones.

However, patching can be difficult if you are dealing with limited time and personnel because, although the concept is straightforward, you will still need to know which updates are the right ones and where you can get hold of them.

Selective use

For many, another big problem is that the best approach to software patching is never to do everything continuously. It could mean that you are wasting time and money on unnecessary work and this can lead to mistakes, making things worse than what they were before.

Patches should be tested before they are implemented, especially if they are being rolled out across a wide network of devices. The size of the systems involved can also bring problems in terms of knowing the state of each component, and which patches are needed for different parts of the network. The only effective way to achieve this is to maintain an accurate and up-to-date inventory.

Added risks

Although one of the obvious benefits of patching is to reduce risks of cybercrime and general reliability, the process can carry its own potential pitfalls. If the wrong patch is installed, it could result in something vital to the running of the system being broken, which could lead to downtime and loss of productivity at best and a 'disaster recovery' situation at worst.

Failed patches, and their potential effects, are not easy to foresee but can easily happen when businesses have a range of different IT equipment running various iterations of software. Updates can change the ability of each component to continue working together.

Patching impossibility

Another issue is that patching might not always be possible. If you use third-party equipment that doesn't belong to you, it might not be accessible to you for patching. If it does belong to you, but is licensed in some way, it might mean a third party is responsible for patching it, or the law might forbid you from doing so, as is the case with some medical equipment, for example.

The most common scenario making patching impossible is that you are running a system, or have elements of it, that is too old to receive security updates. This often happens when major software producers come to the 'end of life' stage of supporting older operating systems and application suites.

Does this affect you?

What your company does, how much it has to spend and how it normally approaches security all have an impact on how you should approach patching. You can find more information in this blog and you can also contact our support team who will be happy to talk through your existing set-up and future requirements to come up with a solution tailored to the needs of your business.