Patch Tuesday (recently changed to Update Tuesday) is an unofficial term referencing Microsoft’s release of security patches for its operating systems and software products. It’s occurred the second Tuesday of every month since late 2003.
Of course, Microsoft doesn’t own the market on security issues; every system, every piece of software, every program is at risk. And every business has the potential of being hacked.
While the largest hacks make the news, smaller businesses take the biggest hits, turning their worlds completely topsy-turvy, sometimes shuttering their business forever because they can’t survive impact.
The only way to combat potential risks is to lower vulnerability. And that’s what patch management is all about.
What Is Patch Management?
A patch is a piece of code. It's written to improve a program already installed on your system. As the name implies, a patch is a bandaid, fixing a small portion of the program. When a “bug” is found, the patch goes in and corrects the issue without having to recreate the program altogether. A patch applies the bandaid, essentially fixing the system for the current moment.
Patch management is the process of devising a system that keeps your entire system safe. It utilizes human and automated technology to determine what patches exist for your systems, and ensure they are installed and implemented smoothly.
Why Is Patch Management Important?
All of that sounds like an easy process, right? And yet one survey revealed that only 47 percent of organizations patch vulnerabilities as soon as they are known. Even more worrisome, 16 percent of those surveyed admitted to waiting a month before patching, and 8 percent say they take on patching projects only once or twice a year.
That’s leaving a lot of potential risk on your doorstep.
Patch management controls the risk. It creates a system to ensure the time-consuming, tedious task of ensuring all patches are installed in a timely manner. It’s benefits include:
Security - patching your system quickly reduces the chance of being attacked by hackers. If they can’t exploit easy ways in, your data is more secure.
Compliance - HIPAA laws require you to keep patient data safe. Failure to comply could result in legal penalties for your practice. Patch management ensures you’re up to date.
Productivity - has your practice ever come to a screeching halt because of a computer crash? Staying up to date with patches reduces downtime and ensures your staff remains efficient throughout the day.
Innovation - patches aren’t only to fix bugs; they are also used to provide you with new technology. Patches improve features and functionality, giving you easier ways to do what you do throughout the day. And in most cases, they do so without requiring you to pay more money for a new software package.
When was the last time you ensured your programs were all up to date, with patches applied in a timely manner? Or are you at risk?
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