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Patch Management: The Truth That Will Set You Free

Patch Management

Let’s get philosophical for a minute. Don’t worry, you won’t have to think about Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates. You just have to understand the day-to-day reality of life in today’s IT departments—especially when it comes to patching.

There are some truths out there that many IT professionals simply don’t realize, and understanding them can help you create better security paradigms to protect your entire organization.

Many people believe that we are trapped in a continuous cycle of patching because something’s broken. They feel like the system isn’t working. But let’s back up a little bit and ask ourselves a key question: Why are we actually patching in the first place?

Well, here’s a hint: It’s not because we love it—we all know it can be a huge headache. Another hint: It’s also not because developers aren’t doing their job.

In this post, we’ll look at the real answer as to why we need to patch. And why is this important? Because getting a better sense of the reasons behind patching can help us choose smarter tools. More importantly, it can help us realize that patching isn’t going away while also telling us how to make the job of patching easier and more hassle-free.

The truth behind patching might just set you free.

Is a Permanent Fix Coming?

It’s easy to fool ourselves into believing patching is “temporary.” In the back of our minds, perhaps it’s a stopgap measure—we’re patching until a permanent fix comes along.

But that doesn’t get down to the root of things: why we’re patching in the first place. We don’t patch because the system is broken; we patch because the system works, and that means it’s continuously evolving.

Software development has never been better, and the goal continues to be getting great products into users’ hands more quickly. Manufacturers have embraced a fast release cycle because it’s the best way to do this.

DevOps practices, CI/CD, and Agile/Scrum methodologies are all models that focus on shortening and optimizing the release cycle. Agile project failure rates are only 8% compared to 21% for traditional waterfall methods. And more importantly, Harvard Business Review reports that companies implementing a deep Agile approach are seeing 60% higher revenues.

These models, by and large, work really, really well. As consumers, we love getting better products sooner. And as developers, we love having the tools to get releases out quickly.

And the need to patch, believe it or not, is a sign that everything is working as it should, which means we should try to love patching as well (It really is possible!).

Patching isn’t going away; in fact, it’s a normal, healthy function of every IT department. So how can you be proactive and actually embrace it?

Continuous Software Development – A Blessing and a Curse

As we’ve seen, we need to patch our systems as a result of how dynamic today’s software and OS development has become.

Because speed and agility have become the top priorities, all companies releasing software face the trade-off between speed and perfection. It’s become unrealistic—not to mention unfeasible—to delay a software release until the product is perfect. When faced with having to wait for the features they need, users will more likely jump ship and choose a product that’s already available.

So this creation process may look “flawed,” but as the profit figures show, it actually creates efficiencies in the long run.

All of this explains why flawed products have to be released. But not all flaws are created equal. Imperfections in software products can be grouped into four categories:

  • Performance flaws
  • Usability flaws
  • Compliance flaws
  • Security flaws

From the user’s perspective, the first three categories are absolute deal-breakers. A product that’s highly secure but tough to use is a product nobody will want. 

That’s why companies must focus on the first three areas, and in a world where hackers didn’t exist, this would be fine. In the real world, however, where hackers are getting smarter every day, such a focus creates increased vulnerability. 

Fortunately, patching offers us the best and most efficient way to remediate those vulnerabilities.

Taking the Headache Out of Patching

We’ve seen that vulnerabilities are a natural result of developers rushing to put out great products: a trade-off between speed and security. But somebody’s still got to close those holes—and that falls on your IT team.

The reason we all hate patching is pretty obvious: It’s a hassle. It eats up time and could cause systems to fail unpredictably. And it’s an even more challenging task in complex environments with a wide range of systems, endpoints, environments, and OSes (on-premise and cloud-based), not to mention many sources of patch downloads.

It’s tough to have insight into your whole environment. It’s tough to make sure all of your bases are covered.

But the answer isn’t eliminating patching—it’s eliminating the headache. And what are the factors here that are causing that headache?

  • The complexity of asset prioritization, locating relevant patches
  • Time and manual effort to roll out
  • Downtime potential and risk of other problems and side effects

A modern patch management solution like JetPatch can address all of these pain points with:

  • A unified dashboard for clear insights into your IT’s organization and assets
  • Ability to download all relevant patches and prioritization in advance
  • Intelligent prediction to locate potential problems and increase patching success rate

Plus, JetPatch will automate patch rollouts across your entire organization, reducing the burden on your team, eliminating human error, and closing vulnerability gaps, all of which save you time and money.

Patching for the Real World

The wrong attitude about patching often holds us back from fully embracing it. We approach it grudgingly, feeling like something must be broken if so many “fixes” are needed. And we perhaps believe that in an ideal world, patching wouldn’t be necessary at all.

But let’s face it—we all live in the real world and the numbers on today’s agile development methods prove that they really do work. And since there’s never going to be a world where hackers don’t exist, there will also never be a world where the need for patching doesn’t exist.

As long as companies are developing and releasing new software, hackers will try to break into it, and that means the need for patching isn’t going away. But if we embrace patching instead of fighting it, we can have a more positive attitude. And that lets us be more proactive, investing intelligently in solutions that help us properly remediate our network’s vulnerabilities.

The reality is that patching is a vital, positive component of our IT ecosystem. It’s absolutely here to stay, but it doesn’t have to be a headache. With the right tools—and a little philosophy to sweeten our outlook!—it really can be easy and hassle-free.


 

Shai Toren
Shai Toren
Shai is CEO and co-founder of JetPatch. Former GM at ClearOne, Shai is a proven leader with over 20 years of executive management and technology experience. https://www.linkedin.com/in/shai-toren-a35804/
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