Best Practice Guide To Operating System Patching

Importance of Patching in IT Maintenance

Operating System patch management is critical aspect of ICT maintenance that keeps your systems up-to-date and makes them secure and protected from otherwise serious vulnerabilities for any organisation and its assets. Patch updates related to bugs and vulnerabilities should be considered and actioned carefully, if devices are not updated this opens the gates to potential attacks aimed towards internal systems and data. No matter how big or small the environment; patching should be done on a regular basis and should be guided by appropriate documentation to achieve this. Patching along with software updates and system reconfiguration is an important part of IT system lifecycle management.

Prerequisites and Implementation

Every vendor releases patches regularly for new bugs or vulnerabilities. Each vulnerability is given a risk score using common vulnerability scoring system (CVSS) which identifies its criticality. It is important to keep up to date on these advisories, in addition each organisation should have the relevant licenses to receive those patches. Depending on how big the environment is; planning should be there to group the servers depending on the criticality of the application and the available downtime window. This will help to push the patches in stages.

Once patches are released, it is important to scan the environment for the identified vulnerabilities. Analyse and test the patch and then apply to all the groups to ensure compliancy. This applies for Windows systems, Red Hat systems, software, hardware, and devices. As this is a repetitive and regular exercise; it is best to automate the process to save time and improve accuracy.  There are various automation tools available to address this task. System Centre Configuration Manager is available for Windows and Red hat Satellite for Red hat. To avoid the risk of data breaches patches should be applied as soon as they are available from vendors.

Our Approach

At Blue Crystal Solutions (BCS), we have been managing this very smoothly for our customers via SCCM, Red Hat Satellite and Repo Sync to maintain compliance for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Microsoft. The automation allows us to make it fast and accurate and makes the environments secure with no hassle. The post validation or any failures to implementation are also automated for the whole process which can be remediated thereafter basis the alerts and reporting tool.  The process-oriented approach along with the best practices ensures that the end result is economical, efficient, and effective.

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