Patching: Why you should be doing it
Patching of systems is one of those activities that people hate, this is especially true if you are running a Microsoft Windows system. Although Windows updates are getting better, the dreaded Patch Tuesday always seem to make the news for all the wrong reasons.
Why should you do it?
The simple answer is yes, enable your device to automatically connect to the manufacture and download the updates, then at a time which is suitable to you, install them. This could be when you restart or shut down your machine.
If you are on a network and use Microsoft Active Directory then you should look at implementing a policy to push out updates to all domain connected machines and ensure they are applied within a reasonable amount of time.
The applying of updates has the following main benefits:
- Stability and reliability of your device, updates fix problems that cause your computer to hang
- Reducing the chance that a cyber-attack can attack your machine, by applying updates bugs and vulnerabilities are patched, closing the holes that attackers use
- Its best practice, start doing it, if you aren’t already
Recently there have been websites which have been saying, disable your Windows updates when a new update comes out because it can impact your system. I completely disagree with this for more than one reason. The first being, updates are being released for a reason, usually to protect your system again security vulnerabilities. Secondly, if you disable something, most people will forget to re-enable it and will be in more trouble at a later date.
IoT: It’s not all about the computer
Computers, whether laptop, desktop or servers, are mainly identified when people talk about patching. We shouldn’t forget that updates for mobile devices, smart TVs, fridges, hubs, switches, routers and almost any other internet connected device can be updated and should be updated. As more and more devices are connected to the internet, more and more threats are identified. You should configure your devices to automatically update (if available) or make a note to check the manufactures website for your device at least every 6 months or so (more frequently, ideally).
Updates which are made available may not just fix bugs that help protect your device against threats, but they fix stability issues, they at times release new features and services, so its always in your best interest to make sure you are up to date.
You should also ensure that you ensure that other applications that you run are kept up to date, for instance Adobe Reader/Adobe Flash, anti-virus, Microsoft Office. Any software products that you use should be treated the same as your computer.
To make sure that we all start patching our systems a lot has to be done about user awareness, making people aware that they need to do it, how they configure their machines and software to do it and why its of benefit. Only then can we start reducing the threat landscape and ensuring that people, businesses and systems are kept safer.