Businesses these days have a strong need to simplify and automate patch management, and some managed service providers (MSPs) see an opportunity to help.
Vulnerabilities are a big opening for hackers to gain entry into critical systems, and thousands of new vulnerabilities are discovered all the time. But if only about 800 of these vulnerabilities really matter, MSPs and managed security service providers (MSSPs) have a big opportunity to help clients protect what really matters.
By focusing on what really matters and inventorying which systems need to be patched – capabilities that are beyond many companies of all sizes – managed service providers could provide a valuable service to their customers.
What Is Patch Management?
Patch management is a type of system management tool that lets you identify, acquire, test, and install patches, or code changes, to fix bugs, add new features, or seal security holes. This process requires actively analyzing the available patches and deciding which patches you need for a specific device or software program, and then testing them to ensure that they have been appropriately installed, followed by documenting the process.
Patch management helps organizations fill holes that could compromise their business through cyber attacks, such as keeping computers and networks up to date, secure, and reliable. It acts as an essential means of ensuring and documenting compliance with privacy and security regulations.
Patch management performed on a standalone system may have the help of an operating system and applications performing periodic automated checks to identify patches.
While on a centralized patch management server, you get a lot more than just automation; it also provides you with some control over the process. For instance, if you find a problematic patch, you can prevent it from being deployed by configuring the patch management software.
Patch Management’s Role in Cybersecurity and Vulnerability Management
The surge in high-profile cyber attacks over the last couple of years has made cybersecurity the main reason to deploy patches. In 2021, approximately 37% of organizations across the globe faced some form of ransomware attack – and some had a big impact on MSPs and their customers.
Patch management makes for an important part of vulnerability management, needed to discover, prioritize, and remediate the security threats in your network assets. Vulnerability management includes:
- Network Scanning: Helps identify users and devices on the network. Hackers use the same technique to find vulnerable targets.
- Penetration Testing: Identifies the vulnerable parts of your network by mimicking hacker tactics.
- Verification: Confirms that the vulnerabilities found during scanning and testing are exploitable.
- Mitigation Measures: Includes taking vulnerable systems offline to prevent the vulnerabilities from getting exploited before patch availability.
- Reporting: Uses analytics, data management, and visualization tools to evaluate your organization’s vulnerability management process and compliance with regulations.
Why MSPs Are Trying to Simplify Patch Management
Businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), are trying their best to keep their system software secure and up to date. In a majority of these businesses, data centers are the lifeblood, and patch management is a crucial thing to help keep servers hardened. It requires deploying the latest security patches while focusing on core business goals. Small businesses usually don’t have the latest technology at their disposal to deal with highly complex data centers. Hence, they struggle to keep their server and other software up to date.
MSPs see this as an opportunity to provide small businesses with simplified patch management solutions that can:
- Reduce Time to Patch: By automating patch management systems, businesses can go from CVE to patch group within a couple of minutes. They can easily import CVE lists from any vulnerability management vendor.
- Patch Virtual Servers: It can help businesses discover, inventory, and patch physical servers, virtual machines, and templates, irrespective of power state or without needing to be online.
- Give Businesses More Control: Patch management automation gives businesses some degree of control to grant the correct privileges to their users. By having the power to control administration, businesses feel more empowered.
- Enable Advanced Reporting: Automating patch management is key to making better and more informed decisions much faster with the help of single-view data gathered by comprehensive real-time dashboards from multiple sources.
How MSPs Can Offer Patch Management
MSPs might need to partner with big names like Ivanti and Qualys — two security vendors that have been touting their patch management services recently — because of the complexity of trying to patch everything alone.
Even though the threat of vulnerabilities is real, patch management remains a significant challenge for many organizations — 71% of IT and security professionals find patching overly complex, cumbersome, and time-consuming. So it’s not just the lack of resources that MSPs need to address but also making the process quicker and more efficient.
What Role Can Ivanti Play?
On August 3, Ivanti announced a partnership with SentinelOne to help organizations adopt and use a comprehensive, risk-based approach to patch management and bolster cybersecurity against cyber threats, including ransomware attacks. This partnership aims at solving all patching challenges by enabling organizations to improve cyber hygiene and reduce attack surfaces while allowing them to quickly detect and remediate enterprise-wide vulnerabilities.
What Does Qualys Have to Offer?
Qualys offers a cloud-based patch management system, acting as a single solution to patch mobile devices, operating systems (OS), and other third-party applications. It also helps with remote patching for personal and corporate devices while offering an automated correlation between vulnerabilities and patches and unified threat discovery, prioritization, and remediation — all in one platform.
Also read: Top MSSP Tools and Cybersecurity Vendors
What Can Small Businesses Get from Patch Services?
Patch management is an overly complex and ongoing process that requires a lot of resources. Simplifying the process through automation further adds to the complexity of the process, which is something many MSPs can’t handle on their own.
This is where bigger companies like Ivanti and Qualys — both of which offer partner programs — can pitch in and save the day. MSPs can leverage such partnerships to their strategic advantage. And since larger enterprises are entering into partnerships with MSPs, MSSPs and others to simplify patch management, MSPs can now prioritize patch management more than ever before.
For small businesses, such partnerships signify the beginning of an era of more simplified patch management solutions from IT vendors, resellers and service providers. The only challenge is to study the market and make informed decisions to find the one that meets their needs.