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How to Solve the Five Challenges of Patch Management

You likely read the recent announcement about the critical security update for macOS Monterey that includes arbitrary code vulnerabilities, both zero-days, that have already been exploited (CVE-2022-32894 and CVE-2022-32893).

What does this mean for your users? Have they patched?

Staying on top of a never-ending stream of patches for vulnerabilities is challenging, especially for larger enterprises. However, time is of the essence, and most organizations give potential adversaries ample time to attack - taking on average 16 days to patch a critical vulnerability after detection according to research by the Ponemon Institute.

How to Detect and Remediate the Latest macOS Vulnerability

Patch Management is Challenging at Any Scale

Ponemon Institute research shows that 60% of organizations have a breach due to a known but unpatched vulnerability. There are ways to make patch management less of a challenge, beat the average response time, and avoid being part of a statistic.

The Five Challenges of Patch Management

1. There are a variety of systems and applications. Every organization now has a mixture of operating systems and 3rd-party applications. Likely, this means macOS, Windows, Linux, and more, as well as apps from hundreds of different vendors.

2. Hybrid workers with systems that are only occasionally connected to a domain. It is hard enough to stay on top of devices you directly manage, but it is more challenging and maybe even more critical to ensure BYOD or contractor devices are patched before accessing your organization’s resources.

3. Even urgent critical security patches need some amount of testing and caution when rolling out to ensure they don’t impact availability. Doing this requires process and automation that supports incrementally releasing a patch to larger groups of devices.

4. On-going visibility and monitoring of vulnerable systems are a must. Even after you’ve considered the risk tradeoffs and tested and patched the latest critical vulnerability, the work is not done. It is still vital to monitor actively to ensure a device that may have not been connected when you were reacting to the threat is patched when it connects back to resources. You need both visibility into any devices that are not patched, and ongoing protection from a vulnerable device.

5. There is a shortage of security and IT staff. One common challenge for any size security or IT organization is too few resources for the day-to-day work, let alone the fire drills that each high-profile vulnerability triggers.

MetaAccess: An Essential Solution

The challenges may feel like an uphill battle, but the good news is there are solutions. As detailed here, OPSWAT MetaAccess provides a complete solution that will help you patch more quickly and ensure you stay protected.

1. MetaAccess helps ensure all your systems and applications are patched by:

  • Providing visibility by detecting vulnerabilities and out-of-date software and presenting an actionable summary in the MetaAccess dashboard and daily reports. Using these, you can drill in to see more detail as depicted here:

  • Providing visibility by detecting vulnerabilities and out-of-date software and presenting an actionable summary in the MetaAccess dashboard and daily reports

  • Providing visibility of vulnerabilities from the application perspective:

  • Providing visibility of vulnerabilities from the application perspective
  • Ensuring your choice of patch management solution is properly configured on the end point and alerts you and potentially blocks the user’s device if the patch management solution is not configured correctly:

  • Ensuring your choice of patch management solution is properly configured on the end point and alerts you and potentially blocks the user’s device if the patch management solution is not configured correctly
  • Potentially blocking the device from accessing your applications and other resources, including when an OS or 3rd-party application is not patched, like the Monterey 12.5.1 patch. The user can be warned for a configurable number of days, and if the patch still is not applied, they can be blocked to give them a chance to deal with the risk and impact workflow.

2. With the normalization of hybrid work, it is critical that whatever solution you use to get devices patched works for users on-premises or remote. As MetaAccess is cloud-hosted, the OPSWAT Client ensures devices are secure no matter where it is located when accessing corporate resources.

3. It is critical to gradually roll out patches to mitigate the risk of widespread impact if it has hidden surprises. MetaAccess allows you to enforce different policies per groups of devices supporting automatic roll out of patches, exclude specific patches, and even exempt specific devices. In addition to exempting devices, specific patches and CVEs can be exempted too, permitting a device to continue to be seen as compliant if you decide the impact is too great to apply it.

4. MetaAccess’s secure access capabilities protect your organizations from access from risky or non-compliant devices. One vital aspect of this is ensuring that a device that may have not connected recently, but may have an older critical vulnerability, will be blocked until it is patched no matter how long it has been since the initial vulnerability was addressed on other systems.

5. MetaAccess presents the user with a detailed remediation message with information on the vulnerability. Alerting users makes them more likely to patch their own devices sooner. If they do not act, MetaAccess can continue to warn them each time they attempt to access an organization resource, and if they wait too long, you can configure MetaAccess policy to require them to patch to gain access to company resources. This allows a rapid roll out of critical patches, even to the most loaded IT teams, no matter the timing, and all automatically.

MetaAccess’s secure access capabilities protect your organizations from access from risky or non-compliant devices

MetaAccess addresses all these challenges, helping your organization’s overtaxed staff respond more quickly and efficiently to critical vulnerabilities with no additional workload. Try MetaAccess for free!

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