How To Automate Patch Management

reviewed by Matt Law
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Patch management is one of the key components in any functional, successful IT environment. Although patching is essential, it’s a notoriously difficult, tedious, and time-consuming process. Businesses avoid patching for many reasons, even though the risks of doing so are high.

Although you can’t take away all the risks of patching, you can make it a simpler and easier process for your IT teams by automating it. Follow this step-by-step guide to automate various stages of the patch management process, and watch your IT department transform into a safer, more productive environment.

Why patch management is critical for IT

From small businesses to large enterprises, no organization is safe from the risks of unpatched software. Cybercrime is on the rise this year, and 82% of organizations have been affected by a successful cyberattack. With automated patch management, organizations can proactively protect their data and devices from theft, loss, or damage.

Cybersecurity isn’t the only use for patch management. Since patches upgrade software and fix recurring issues, they help create more efficient, successful, and productive programs. In turn, the patched program creates more satisfied users, brings in more clients, and can be deemed safe and trustworthy.

How automation plays a role in patch management

With an increasing number of endpoints being produced and used by businesses every year, automated patch management and unified endpoint management systems are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Patching endpoints by hand is frustrating, time-consuming, and monotonous work, and while it might work for a few endpoints, you’ll need automation to keep up with hundreds or thousands of devices.

Automated patch management benefits

  • Better security

Without a doubt, an automated patch management tool immediately takes your security to the next level. Using the advantages of automation, a patching tool ensures that every device in your IT infrastructure receives the security patches they need in a timely manner.

  • Reduce manual errors

Manual errors happen when patching is left entirely in human hands. Automated patch management allows users to set up patching schedules and ensure that updates are pushed uniformly to all endpoints without significant human intervention.

  • Greater efficiency & productivity

No one really wants to spend hours of their time on patching. It’s tedious work that’s better handled by an automated system. After setting up an automated patch management tool, users notice an impressive boost in IT efficiency and productivity.

  • Simplify compliance reporting

For organizations that qualify for SOC compliance audits, such as MSPs, automated patch management is a great help since the automated systems produce patch reports. These reports are used in compliance audits to ensure that IT teams are following IT and security best practices.

5 steps to automate patch management

With the right patch management tool and a comprehensive IT inventory, setting up an automated patch management system will be easier than you think. Here’s how to set up automated patching in five simple steps:

1) Set up a patch management tool

If you have previously patched all devices manually, it might take some time to set up and become familiar with your patch management tool. However, the right patch management tool should be intuitive with an easy-to-use interface so that you can begin automation right away.

2) Build a comprehensive network inventory

In order to patch all the endpoints in your IT environment, you need to know some specific details, such as how many endpoints are on your network, what types of endpoints you use, how many require patching, et cetera. The best way to gather and organize all this information is to create a comprehensive network and IT inventory. MSPs and IT departments use this inventory to manage hardware and software assets and to provide information about the current state of their IT environments.

3) Identify areas that benefit from automation

With a network inventory in hand and a patch management solution, it’s time to begin the automation process. Although you might not be able to automate all the stages in the patch management process, you can automate the majority of the main steps, such as patch deployment/scheduling, policy creation, and testing.

4) Set conditions and schedule automated patching

Now, it’s time to set up conditions and schedule automated patching for your systems. As you set up the automated processes, be sure to keep patching best practices in mind. For instance, if you are setting up automated patching for servers, it’s best to schedule the patching for after-work hours so that your other teams are not affected by the updates.

5) Monitor and ensure all patching systems function correctly

Even after patches are deployed, there’s still work to be done. In your patch management tool, you should be able to monitor your systems and ensure that all patches are deployed successfully. If you use a unified RMM that includes patch management, such as NinjaRMM, you can also gain insight into device performance, health, security, and other endpoint information from a single pane of glass.

Why NinjaOne is your #1 solution for patch management

NinjaOne is an RMM and patch management tool that helps IT departments and MSPs create a safer, more unified IT environment. Discover how NinjaOne automates OS and application patching, resolves issues quickly with remediation tools, automatically sends alerts/notification, presents patching data, and much more when you sign up for your free trial.

Next Steps

Patching is the single most critical aspect of a device hardening strategy. According to Ponemon, almost 60% of breaches could be avoided through effective patching. NinjaOne makes it fast and easy to patch all your Windows, Mac, and Linux devices whether remote or on-site.
Learn more about Ninja Patch Management, check out a live tour, or start your free trial of the NinjaOne platform.

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