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Why is patch management important?

Borderless networks present new challenges for security pros. Andrew Froehlich explains how this trend makes patch management even more important.

The number of reported data breaches is said to be doubling every 18 months. Many of those breaches are the result of unpatched PCs, servers, applications or network infrastructure equipment that allowed bad actors access. Breaches are a serious issue for enterprise organizations. The last thing business leaders want is to have their companies' names plastered over the headlines as the latest enterprise falling victim to nefarious actors.

Because technology now drives nearly every business function imaginable, the attack surface of businesses -- both small and large -- continues to expand. This is one reason why patch management is important. An attack surface is basically the number of ways malicious activities can occur within an enterprise IT infrastructure. The more servers, PCs, applications, services and IoT devices the business has, the bigger its attack surface.

Borderless corporate networks further increase the attack surface. In a borderless network, employees, customers and business partners can access corporate resources wherever and whenever they want. While borderless networks create benefits and efficiencies, there are also security risks.

No longer can a security administrator simply place a firewall at the physical corporate boundary and call it a day. That's because there are no more physical boundaries. Today, apps, data and users reside on the corporate LAN, across the WAN and in the public cloud. Security teams understand patch management is important. But because these assets no longer sit behind a corporate firewall, it becomes more critical than ever to patch any and all managed devices as soon as possible.

Without organized processes and patch management tools in place, huge chunks of an infrastructure may languish, with a painful data breach for your company and customers being the end result.

This was last published in August 2019

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