By Sami Mäkiniemelä, Chief Security Officer, Miradore
It’s easy to identify security needs from physical threats we can see. For example, the aviation industry prohibits guns or knives on planes and has a system in place with metal detectors and scanning devices to make sure they aren’t allowed on board. But when it comes to the digital threats in the world of cybersecurity, these are usually invisible making them much harder to identify and eliminate. That means businesses need to be constantly scanning for threats to protect their vital business systems from an unwanted data disaster.
Automated systems are key to accomplishing this goal. In a cybersecurity context, one of the most impactful examples of this is automated patch management (APM). This is a process in which code changes, or patches, are automatically deployed to devices to fix or update the operating system or installed software products. APM is the easiest way to fix known vulnerabilities caused by outdated software. According to the Ponemon Institute, 57% of cyberattack victims report that their breaches could have been prevented by installing an available patch. And 52% of respondents say their organizations are at a disadvantage in responding to vulnerabilities because they use manual software patching processes.
Unpatched software is a real cybersecurity risk which can result in data breaches that have severe monetary and reputational consequences. Some of the largest breaches in history were a result of unpatched software. Equifax was forced to pay a settlement of $425 million to victims of their data breach caused by a known, unpatched software vulnerability. And this weakness continues to serve as an easy avenue for attackers to breach a businesses’ data. In 2021, unpatched software vulnerabilities were one of the most common attack vectors for hackers. A recent study by Ponemon Institute and ServiceNow showed that nearly 50% of the respondents reported having one or more data breaches in the last two years, and 60% of breached companies stated those attacks may have occurred due to an unpatched vulnerability.
Yet because of the focus on the huge corporations and the major implications of attacks on them, small- and medium-sized businesses have been lured into a false sense of security that they’re not at risk because they’re not as big a target. The reality is that these types of attacks can happen to any company, big or small. That means it’s essential for all businesses to develop resources to defend themselves against this pervasive and growing threat. A challenge for smaller companies is they often have less financial resources available for cybersecurity. If a business has a limited IT budget and needs to focus on one area of digital security, they should focus on APM which can provide a solution that secures a company’s critical digital assets at minimal cost.
Here are three main reasons why APM is the best solution out there today to protect companies large and small from digital vulnerabilities:
1–APM is better than manual patch management
Info Security Magazine reported that more than 18,000 common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) were published last year — that’s an average of around 50 CVEs a day, making it nearly impossible to keep track of every one manually. By using APM, you’ll always be up-to-date with the latest patches for operating systems and applications. So even if your company is managing a small fleet of computers, APM is the best option as it precludes the possibility of forgetting to check for updates or installing a patch incorrectly due to human error.
2–APM mitigates risk for employees
Because APM automatically installs new updates, IT managers don’t have to rely on their device end users to install patches on their own. It’s also convenient, making it easy to centrally monitor the patching status of your IT environment with every device running APM available in one online portal. This allows you to upload and install all necessary patches to your devices automatically, so your IT manager doesn’t have to manually search for new patches every time.
3–APM means better productivity
Devices running the most up-to-date versions of software will have better performance overall. That means productivity increases as your device users don’t have to struggle with performance issues or bugs. Both employees and IT managers will spend far less time worrying about keeping software up to date as well, leading to even more increased productivity.
Many smaller-sized businesses might think, “Well, this all sounds great, if we could afford it.” The good news is APM is more affordable than managers might expect. Also, APM software is often integrated into a mobile device management (MDM) platform that has a wide variety of additional asset management functionality, like online device inventories. Online device inventories make both automated and manual patch management much easier because the technical specifications for every device, including versions for all installed software, are stored in a central repository for convenient reference by a company’s IT staff.
MDM also gives smaller businesses the ability to significantly streamline IT operations by automating device setup and maintenance tasks, leaving your IT department with more time to assist employees with pressing/complex issues. In fact, use of an MDM platform has been found to save some IT departments up to 30 hours per month. That can translate into a lot of increased productivity, especially for smaller businesses with minimal IT staff.
In today’s digital environment with ever-increasing threats, now is the time for companies to be leveraging APM to ensure they are providing the safest possible network, devices, and other infrastructure to their employees, vendors, and customers. And it also helps allocate the valuable time of their IT professionals for other, more demanding purposes. While there is some cost associated with implementing these technologies, it’s not nearly as great as it would be if a patch failure caused your company to be the subject of the next Yahoo!– or Facebook-sized data breach. APM is the easiest, most efficient way for companies of all sizes to mitigate unpatched vulnerabilities, ensuring all their computers and digital devices are safe and performing optimally.
About the Author
Sami Mäkiniemelä is the Chief Security Officer at Miradore, a software company that offers MDM services. Sami can be reached online via LinkedIn. You can learn more about the benefits of patch management and mobile device management on Miradore’s website.