Vulnerabilities in systems and applications need to be fixed, for which we come up with patches and fixes. If anyone is not using these released patches for fixing the bugs and issues in any application, then there is a chance of cybercriminals exploit the vulnerabilities and misuse of the application or the system for illegal purposes. In this chapter, you will learn about the patch management system in detail.

What is Patch Management?

Patch management is the practice and process for ensuring that appropriate patches are installed on the system, and upgrades for technologies and software are appropriately done. Since security is one of the main concerns in every organization, patch management techniques can efficiently help a venture or an organization handle these changes. Software and security patches are essential for fixing existing bugs and issues of any system or application that comes once the application's first release is done.

Role of Patch Management Plan

Patch management functions involve:

  • Choosing an application for the bug, testing, and verification is done, and then patches are applied.
  • The patch management team is also responsible for updating previously applied patches with the latest one.
  • Listing of patches previously applied to any particular application or system
  • Keep a record of repositories, depots for patches.
  • Updating the system regularly.
  • Assigning and applying the new patches to match management group

Patch Testing

In any business organization, patch testing is another essential responsibility of the patch management team. Verification is the first step in patch testing where the source and integrity of the patch are managed. This checks the valid update and whether it is altered or not. Three significant components of security patch testing involve:

  • Checksums
  • Integrity verification
  • Digital Signatures

Also, the testing of patches is done in three possible ways:

  • Testing the application patches
  • Testing service patches
  • Testing Patch installation

Steps for Patch Management and Monitoring Framework

Here are the following steps that are followed by the patch monitoring and management team. These are:

  • Identify the location of the patch.
  • Identification of new patches and updates and verify the authenticity of these patches before integrating them.
  • It has to ensure that patch testing and risk assessment of those patches are processed in one place.
  • Once all the steps, as mentioned above, are done, the patch is deployed for use.

Types of Patches

There are three different types of patches. This categorization is done based on their shipping or delivering formats -

  • Hot-fixes patches: These are usually codes or small programs used to fix bugs in any application or system. Hence these are also termed as security fixes, or QFE (Quick Fix Engineering) fixes.
  • Roll-ups patches: This is a collection of several hot-fixes and multi-purpose fixes merged in a single update file.
  • Service packs: It is primarily an update to a software version with many bug fixes. In these types of patches, new functionalities are introduced and incorporated within the system or application.

Do's and Don'ts in Patch Management

What to do:

  • As a security professional, you have to stag=y aware of all the patch management policies of that organization.
  • Patch management strategies and tools need to be handy and do tasks with ease, and automation needs to be there, which helps detect new patch releases.
  • Security analysts need to test and monitor security patches.

What not to do:

  • Do not take much time to secure and updating the system with new patches and definition updates.
  • Do not merely run the patches without proper testing. This may crash your system.

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