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Patch management

(also software patching, security patch management)

Patch management definition

Patch management is the process of identifying, acquiring, installing, and verifying software updates (patches) to fix known security vulnerabilities or bugs in an application, operating system, or network infrastructure. Regular patch management helps maintain system stability, improve performance, and enhance security by addressing potential weaknesses that hackers can exploit.

See also: network encryption, vulnerability, vulnerability management system, vulnerability assessment

Patch management examples

  • Operating system updates: Regular updates to operating systems, like Windows, macOS, or Linux, to fix security vulnerabilities, improve performance, or add new features.
  • Application updates: Updating software applications like web browsers, antivirus programs, or productivity suites to patch security holes, fix bugs, or enhance functionality.
  • Firmware updates: Updating the firmware of devices like routers, IoT devices, or printers to address security vulnerabilities and improve performance.

Patch management best practices

  • Schedule regular patching: Establish a routine for updating systems and software, ensuring that security updates are installed in a timely manner.
  • Prioritize critical updates: Evaluate the importance of each patch and prioritize installing those that address critical vulnerabilities to minimize risks.
  • Test patches before deployment: Test patches in a controlled environment before deploying them in a live environment to avoid potential conflicts or issues.
  • Maintain an inventory of software and hardware: Keep track of all software and hardware assets, making it easier to identify which devices or applications need patching.
  • Monitor patch status: Regularly monitor the status of installed patches and ensure they are functioning properly.