Patch Management Overview with Explanations

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Lauren Ballejos      

Since the number of malware attacks continues to rise every year, effective patch management is more important now than ever before. In fact, a recent Market Data Forecast report on the patch management industry claims that “the global patch management market size is forecasted to grow USD 1084 million by 2027 from USD 652 million in 2022, growing at a CAGR of 10.7% between 2022 and 2027.” Learn more about patch management and its multiple benefits in this overview.

What is patch management?

Patch management is the process of creating, testing, and deploying software updates to various endpoints. These updates, also known as “patches,” improve the current software by fixing technical issues, tightening security, or releasing new features. In addition to the IT field, there are many other industries that require patch management, such as healthcare, government, education, legal, and finance industries.

What is patch management software?

Patch management software automates the patching process to make it faster and more efficient. With reliable patch management software, MSPs and internal IT will spend only a few minutes on patching instead of multiple days. The key functions that patch management software provides include:

  • Automation

Automation reduces the need for human intervention. With patch management software, you can identify, download, and deploy OS and applications patches without manual effort.

  • Reporting

Because patch management software gathers and collects information on a single pane of glass, reporting has never been easier. Report vulnerabilities, patch compliance status, patch deployments, and more with a single click of a button.

  • Visibility

Clear visibility is essential for monitoring and controlling systems. Patch management software provides complete visibility into your entire IT portfolio.

  • Remediation

Remediation processes ensure the security of systems and endpoints. Patch management software identifies and fixes issues almost instantly to return systems back to normal.

Types of patch management

There are multiple types, or categories, of patch management software on the market. Some common types of patch management software are:

1) Automated patch management

Automated patch management software performs patching and other functions automatically, without human intervention. It’s efficient, easy to use, and gets the job done quickly.

2) Open source patch management

Open-source patch management software is “free” software that is available for all to use. The drawback of open-source patching software is that it is limited to the most basic functions and does not support scalability.

3) Cloud-based patch management

Cloud-based patch management software allows you to patch on- and off-network devices. Cloud-based software is essential for businesses that operate with a partly or fully remote workforce.

What are the benefits of patch management?

Safety

One of the main goals of patching is to identify and fix vulnerabilities within a system. Effective patch management will prevent cyberattacks and malware from harming your business.

Innovation

In order to grow and rise above competitors, businesses need to improve the services that they offer. Patch management allows you to add new features or upgrades to your service to improve the user experience.

Compliance

Today, there are multiple cybersecurity standards that businesses follow to keep themselves safe. To remain in compliance with these standards, a business will need a patch management system.

Efficiency

In the world of business, time is money. A patch management system automates the patching process to make it faster and more efficient.

Customer satisfaction

One factor that all successful businesses have in common is a high customer satisfaction score. When businesses use patch management to create and release top-of-the-line services or products, their customer satisfaction scores will rise significantly.

What is a patch management process?

Patching can take a significant amount of time out of your day, especially if you have many IT assets to manage. A patch management process is a guide, or outline, that makes patching as simple as possible. Below, we’ll go over a basic patching process, but keep in mind that there are additional steps you should follow to create a complete patch management process.

1) Identification

The first step in a patch management process is to identify and gather inventory of all the IT assets. This includes servers, desktops, laptops, routers, storage, and anything else on the network. You can identify and gather inventory manually or use a discovery tool.

2) Organization

After gathering inventory, the next step in the patch management process is to organize the assets into risk and priority categories. Instead of attempting to fix all issues with one policy, you can create more effective policies and tackle the most problematic issues first.

3) Policy creation

A patch management policy allows you to set up and schedule patching for your systems. If you know how to create a patch management policy, then you are already familiar with this step. When building a policy, you will determine the type of patching that is required, the time and date that the patching will occur, and the conditions that must be met before proceeding with the patching process.

4) Testing

With a test lab environment or segment, you can monitor patch performance and ensure that all your changes deploy successfully. Accurate testing prevents unforeseen issues from slipping past you and negatively affecting the patching process.

5) Documentation

The best way to keep track of software changes, or patches, is to document them. Additionally, documentation will come in handy if any issues arise after the final patch deployment.

6) Patch release & audit

Now it’s time to release the patch policies that you created from step three. After completing the patch release, conduct a patch management audit to identify failures or performance issues.

How to choose patch management software

There are many patch management software options out there, and each software comes with specific features. To choose a patch management software for your IT department, consider the features, or benefits, that you expect from your software. For instance, the patch management software from NinjaOne is fast, scalable, and easy to use.

With patch management software from NinjaOne, you can automate patching, secure all endpoints, and gain visibility into your entire IT portfolio. If these features sound like a great fit for your IT department, then patch management software from NinjaOne is an excellent choice.

Conclusion

With every passing year, internal IT departments and MSPs rely more and more on patch management software to keep their systems running smoothly. From creating policies to deploying patches, patch management software can automate numerous tasks to make patching quicker and easier.

To learn more about patch management and what it entails, explore our patch management best practices guide. At NinjaOne, we are proud to offer the best patch management software on the market. Sign up for a free trial today, and see for yourself how you can benefit from using NinjaOne.

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