Learn what exactly is the difference between patch and vulnerability management and how to carry out proper implementation.

Fremont, CA:  The development of software is a constant process. Codes and capabilities are dynamic and no system can be ignored, no matter how well built it is. Laptops, printers, servers, and even mobile phones are entry points for any hacker. Being proactive and modernizing the software is an absolute necessity for organizations.

Typically, vulnerability management is a method of dealing with security vulnerabilities. It is divided into four main steps: discovery, reporting, prioritization, and response. And patch management is concentrated on the application of software updates to address special security defects. It can be part of a vulnerability management strategy, but the subject of vulnerability management is much broader. With cyber-attacks surging during the pandemic, organizations have a never-ending confrontation with cybercriminals. The more online their operations become, the more exposed they are to attacks.

What is patch management?

Patch management is the method of making sure that every part of the software used within a firm is up-to-date with the most modern variants released by the manufacturer. This incorporates enterprise-level products like server operating systems and database products, as well as more basic tools like Internet Browsers. Patch management can be performed manually, but it's much more generally implemented using centralized management tools. This can include dedicated patch management software, which enables IT-teams to set rules for the automated application of patches.

Unpatched systems are one of the simplest attack vectors for cybercriminals looking to gain admittance to corporate systems. Hackers and security researchers are regularly finding new vulnerabilities, and companies are regularly assigning patches to deal with them. If those patches are not implemented, however, cybercriminals have an effortless entry point into networks.

Patch management also guarantees that all your enterprise equipment keeps running as it should. Technology is a spectacularly whimsical creature, and even insignificant software bugs can lead to significant problems and affecting employee potency. Appropriate application of patches assures that any potential difficulties can be resolved as soon as possible before your business gets hindered.

What is vulnerability management?

Vulnerability management is a set of methods intended to secure corporate networks, divided into discovery, reporting, prioritization, and responses phases.

Discovery

The first phase includes evaluating all assets across the breadth of your IT infrastructure. Typically, all devices that may be attached to a corporate network, as well as software that’s working. The process must determine whether the developer still maintains the software with security patches. This process may be difficult and long, but putting in the hard work at this stage is important.

Reporting

The reporting phase follows on once you’ve installed a full and up-to-date understanding of the IT estate. This information should be compiled into a report describing the most vulnerable systems. This can be done automatically as well using software, with many security platforms enabling you to create reports based on the results of autonomous network scans.

Prioritization

The most important stage of the vulnerability management process, prioritization is where you decide the order in which you're going to discuss the vulnerabilities within your network. This will be based on several factors, but the important things to consider are the time and cost it will take and the level of risk it possesses. 

Response

The final stage is to respond to the vulnerabilities. Sometimes, this can be as easy as installing any outstanding infrastructure patches or reconfiguring a network device. Other methods may be more expensive or time-consuming. You can also decide to alleviate an issue by partially addressing the problems or by admitting the risks posed by a particular vulnerability.

Once the response cycle is over, the process starts again with a new round of discovery to see the state of your network. Vulnerability management is essential because it gives you a summary of your security. More importantly, vulnerability management gives you insights into possible security gaps.