Patching is seen as one of the most important things a company or individual can do in terms of cyber security. Daily, new vulnerabilities in software are discovered, and patches are a response to this. Patches are software updates which work to fix a gap in security, meaning that the vulnerability should be closed before a cyber criminal can exploit it. Updates also encompass bug fixes, add new features and usually aim to improve the software overall.
Even the best and most established softwares experience vulnerabilities, though the developer’s ability to provide a fast patch to fix this is essential. Once the company has offered the software update to its customers, the rest is up to them.
Past the individual level, organisations must ensure that everyone in the company updates their software as soon as it is available. In many cases, automatic updates can be switched on to ensure that this is always the case. Setting up auto-updates throughout an organisation can ensure that a patch is installed before a vulnerability can be exploited, affecting the organisation negatively. This may not always be possible, therefore it is a good idea to make staff aware of the importance of patching and software updates, highlighting why they are necessary. This could be written into security policies which employees must follow. Recognising the reasons for certain policies makes them much more likely to be considered and followed. Alternatively, companies can use monitoring tools to check and ensure that every employee is using the latest updated version of software quickly and effectively.
Such a simple yet important task, patching is crucial to the cyber safety of organisations. The difficulty is that sometimes the most simple tasks do not appear as very important to some, as they are seen as perhaps trivial. This is where an understanding needs to be raised of just how impactful patches can be, and the immediate installation of new updates must be taken seriously.