For many businesses, especially those in the small to mid-size sector without Managed Servcies Support, basic network maintenance and IT security strategies can have a serious impact on the overall success of the company. The outcome of gaps in these areas are not only directly time consuming and costly to rectify, but could also lead to more serious threats to your company’s confidential data. One of the most basic principles of system maintenance and IT security is to implement regular software patching.
Microsoft, Adobe and Java products are operating in our technology components everywhere. Devices such as servers, desktops, laptops, and smartphones to name a few have all incorporated these products for various commonly used functions, and this ubiquitous nature is part of what makes these products attractive targets to hackers around the world. Mitigating your risks in this area through diligently managing and installing software patches (or updates) in a timely manner is not only a key activity but is also one of the most basic and easy actions for your IT department or managed IT provider to implement. Check with your IT support provider. If they do not currently manage this basic maintenance level activity, you should be asking them why.
Impact of Neglect
While patching servers is of moderate importance (malware infections are largely mitigated by a general lack of web browsing or the opening of potentially poisoned PDFs ), patching of workstations is critical. Without the proper safe guards such as up to date software and antivirus programs, malicious software such as malware, spyware, and viruses can be unknowingly injected into a PC through avenues like infected website advertisements and easily trick users into unwittingly installing something that can annoy the them at best or completely corrupt a Windows installation, steal confidential company data or financial documents, or ransom the user’s data at worst.
The direct costs of infections and/or breaches due to an unmaintained network can increase overall costs of network support and strain what are often tight technology budgets. For example, malware removal could take up to 2 hours per PC, and if the infection cannot be removed in that time, it often becomes more effective to either rebuild or scrap and replace the PC. The direct cost in the technician’s time to troubleshoot and/or the cost of new equipment coupled with the user’s downtime add up to a high price tag that could possibly have been avoided by proactively keeping up on software updates.
The second Tuesday of every month is what is known in the IT world as “Patch Tuesday” – the day Microsoft releases its latest batch of software updates for the products it sells and supports. These updates typically correct known issues with software programming, to improve system performance or application integration with Microsoft operating systems, and to address security vulnerabilities that have been found and/or exploited (also known as zero-day vulnerabilities). Microsoft will also, on occasion, release “out-of-band” patches if a zero-day vulnerability is actively and pervasively being exploited by malicious software. Microsoft does provide update management software free of charge (called Microsoft Windows Server Update Services, or WSUS) that can facilitate patch management and delivery to workstations in a managed domain environment. In smaller, workgroup environments, automatic updates can be set to download & install patches and reboot the PC at a specific time when it will minimize the impact on the end user’s productivity. Adobe and Java release their software patches with somewhat less regularity.
Although it is near impossible to completely prevent infections or breaches in a network that is attached to the Internet in any way, by not taking at least the basic preventative measures to protect your information technology investments and sensitive data, you may be inviting trouble right through your door.
Be sure to contact Envision IT today if you don’t have a monitored, software patching plan in place.