Enterprises should increase their focus on patching third-party software by, if possible, investing in patch or system management products that will allow them to push updates for all of the software used in the organization. Criminals have been moving up the network stack -- and away from operating systems -- for their attacks as network and operating system security has improved over time. Enterprises also have devoted significant efforts to patching Windows and have developed processes and procedures to manage Microsoft patches. Enterprises typically haven't spent as much effort in patching third-party software, and criminals, thus, have been increasing their efforts to exploit vulnerabilities in third-party software. Enterprises need to create a third-party security policy to take these growing threats into account, and potentially even add additional management systems to incorporate patching third-party products into their existing processes and procedures.
Enterprises are at the mercy of third-party vendors for patching these flaws and preventing a software exploit, but they are also at the mercy of Microsoft to patch their software. Enterprises should hold their vendors or software to the same high standards that they hold Microsoft for security by letting their vendors know they expect secure software and switching to more secure software when their current vendor doesn't meet this expectation.
This was first published in August 2010