Technology offers several benefits to both small and large enterprises. But, it also exposes your business to potential cyber threats such as phishing scams, ransomware, data breach, and malware. Over the years, an increasing number of enterprises have found themselves in the crosshairs of cybercriminals.
According to the Cost of a Data Breach Report 2020, the global average total cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86 million. The report also states that malicious cyberattacks such as ransomware are more expensive than the average data breaches.
One of the best ways to prevent or mitigate the losses caused by such attacks is to maintain the best possible network security 24/7/365. That’s where additional security measures like patch management come in. Unfortunately, many businesses still don’t count patch management as a part of their core data privacy and network security strategy.
Let’s understand what patch management is and why it is important.
A. What Is Patch Management?
In simple words, patch management is the process of updating software, including operating systems, applications, and embedded systems, among others. These updates, however, are made in response to fix a security vulnerability or bug in the software component.
Patch management usually happens after the release of a product. Whenever the owner or creator of the software finds a vulnerability, they create and deploy a patch to fix the issue to prevent malicious elements from exploiting your network.
A patch is essentially a piece of code that you need to install to fix the vulnerability or bug in your system. As you are using several different software programs at the enterprise level, you have to keep track of all the new patches being released by the respective software companies.
B. Why Is Patch Management Important?
Patch management is important for a variety of reasons. The following are the key ones.
1. No Technology Is 100% Secure
Technology, no matter how modern, is never 100% secure. At some point, cybercriminals will find a way to bypass or breakthrough your security systems. They are constantly on the lookout for the smallest vulnerability in your system that could allow them to gain illicit access to your data and applications.
That’s why you can’t rely on just one layer of cyber defense. For instance, you may have the latest firewall installed that prevents outside threats successfully. However, if you don’t have proper patch management, cybercriminals may be able to exploit a security vulnerability in one of your applications to bypass your firewall and steal your data. That’s why you have to make sure to have a well-planned security patch management process in place.
2. Avoid Unexpected Downtime
Unexpected downtime can bring your entire enterprise down. It often results in the loss of productivity and also customer trust.
When your entire system or part of it is down, it affects your productivity greatly. This, in turn, results in the loss of new and existing business opportunities and revenue streams.
Your customers aren’t interested in knowing how your system went down suddenly. They will almost always perceive it as your technical and cybersecurity incompetence. As a result, it is often very difficult to win back the trust of your customers after unplanned downtime.
One of the most common reasons behind a sudden system failure is the lack of patch management. Although a patch is a small piece of code, it is extremely important to the smooth functioning of your system.
Also, well-planned patch management makes sure that all your applications and software are up-to-date, resulting in a much safer IT environment. That’s why, as a leading company offering Managed IT Services Detroit, we urge all our customers to pay more attention to patch management.
3. Far-Reaching Financial Consequences
As you may already know, the lack of patch management can easily lead to a data breach or system failure, resulting in unplanned downtime. The far-reaching financial consequences of unplanned downtime are two-fold.
First, you have to spend money on identifying and fixing the security vulnerability in your system, and also on recovering or replacing any data or applications lost or damaged during the outage. Second, you lose potential leads and productivity, which often translates into considerable revenue losses.
Usually, you need a thorough system check, especially if a data breach is detected, to ensure every element of your system is secure. The average time to identify and contain a data breach, or the “breach lifecycle,” was 280 days this year. The longer it takes to detect such an incident, the more devastating the effects can be. Most businesses will feel the heat of the financial consequences for years to come.
4. Ensuring Regulatory Compliance
Many governments and regulatory authorities have started implementing strict IT regulations. Depending on the nature of your business, you will be required to comply with a variety of IT regulations applicable in your jurisdiction. Unfortunately, what most people fail to understand is that security patch management is an integral part of ensuring IT compliance.
For example, the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR requires companies to protect the personal data and privacy of citizens in the European Union and the European Economic Area. If your company caters to customers in these geolocations, your IT network will need to be compliant with the latest GDPR mandates. If you fail to adhere to these regulations due to a security vulnerability, your company may have to face strict legal action.