Computer software is created from lines of source code written by software developers. Software vulnerabilities are flaws in the source code of computer software that hackers can exploit to gain access to your computer and your data. Generally, as soon as software applications are released into the wild, hackers and cybercriminals work to identify whatever flaws in the code they can find and then write malware to exploit those flaws. Once software developers are made aware of vulnerabilities in their software, they respond by coding update patches to fix them. This exploit/patch cycle is forever ongoing, with hackers always finding vulnerabilities in software and software companies working to patch them.
This problem is made worse when new versions of applications are released, because software companies typically stop supporting older versions of their software after a certain amount of time. For instance, Windows 7 was released in 2009, was replaced by Windows 10 in July 2015, and went end-of-life in January 2020, which means Microsoft stopped creating security vulnerability patches for it. With 200 million copies of Windows 7 still in use worldwide despite being end-of-life and vulnerable to hackers, and with Microsoft not actively developing software patches for it, Windows 7 is a frequent target for hackers because they have had more than a decade to devise new ways of undermining its security, all while Microsoft has shifted focus to Windows 10 and newer versions of Windows.
The operating systems and application software you use to help run your business is one of its most critical assets, so keeping it up-to-date on current versions with all security patches installed should be a priority. For most small businesses, Windows and third party application updates are installed if/whenever the user gets a reminder on their screen to install them. Inconsistent, ad-hoc software patching similar to this this can leave Windows and application software, as well as your data, vulnerable to hackers.
A good rule of thumb: if a software title interacts with the Internet, its software will need to be updated eventually. Without consistent updates, software vulnerabilities can potentially be leveraged against the user. With so many kinds of software in use within a business, there needs to be a process to ensure software running on desktops, laptops and servers are patched on a consistent basis. That process is called patch management.
Patch management is an automated process that automatically installs all pending operating system and application software updates to computers and servers without user intervention. Patch management removes the burden of finding, downloading, and installing important security updates from the user – their machines are updated automatically and more secure because of it.
While this makes patch management an essential part of operating securely, it can be notoriously time consuming to dive into. This is why Reboot Networks implements patch management software to keep Windows and third party software applications up to date on a weekly basis. We are also alerted when any issues installing patches are detected, so we can resolve the issue and make sure client machines are kept up to date.
For more information about how Reboot uses patch management and other cybersecurity measures to help protect your business, your users, and your data, please call us at 888-REBOOT8 for more information.