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How to build an effective patch management program

Preventing every single possible risk to your organization’s data structure may be an unrealistic goal, but with a thorough vulnerability assessment and patch management program, you can severely reduce the number of threats your operations are open to.

However, effective vulnerability and patch management is not a one-time event. To truly cover all the angles of your operations, a thorough and ongoing process of consultation, assessment, preparation, deployment, and support is needed. The following are the crucial areas that a comprehensive patch management program should cover:

  • Mapping of current network topology.
  • Establishing a baseline of vulnerabilities.
  • Application of all outstanding patches.
  • Determining cadence of patch application.
  • Review of ongoing critical patch escalation processes.
  • In-depth quarterly reviews.
  • Continuous, ongoing assessment and monitoring.
  • Auditing and compliance analytics.

When properly planned and executed, this process provides critical insight into the potential risks inherent in your network, as well as the methods that can be used to mitigate this risk and compile empirical data to prove regulatory compliance.

The four phases

With the above components in mind, enterprises concerned about the effectiveness of their patch management strategies should structure their approach around four overarching phases: consult, build, transform, and support.

During the “consult” phase, your team should actively and thoroughly conduct vulnerability scans, then compile and review the results to determine your most pressing patching concerns. This phase should also include an analysis of the potential impact of these risks if they are exploited. Categorize your risks based on metrics such as “critical,” “high,” “medium,” or “low.”

The “build” phase should involve building a roadmap for risk mitigation. Based on the previous phase, work with your IT security experts to decide on the methodology and processes that will be needed to address the vulnerabilities you’ve identified.

The “transform” phase includes the deployment of the methods, processes, and policies your organization decided on during the previous phase. The goal of this phase is to transform your network infrastructure into a new environment without the vulnerabilities and risks you’re seeking to address.

In the “support” phase, gathering data on your deployment is key. Compile all pertinent results, evaluate any failed patches, and rescan your environment as necessary. Continue to monitor your network environment and repeat the four steps to mitigate risks and improve upon your patch management process.

A managed, full-spectrum approach

OnX Canada is standing by to offer a thorough vulnerability assessment and patch management service backed by expert knowledge and wired into the entire range of your enterprise’s infrastructure. This service can assist you in identifying new and unexpected vectors through which your operations can be attacked, defining your highest-ranking vulnerabilities, evaluating your existing policies, reviewing compliance requirements, and more.

A managed vulnerability assessment and patch management program by OnX covers every aspect of your network environment, from your endpoints to critical assets, equipment, and facilities. It also extends from the planning and deployment phases to an ongoing monitoring and auditing period, ensuring that your organization’s patch schedule is optimized for your specific needs.

Contact OnX Canada for more information on vulnerability assessment and patch management services.