Before addressing the need for Windows patch management for IT teams, let’s have some thought morsels.
IT and cybersecurity professionals worldwide are undoubtedly aware of the recent upsurge in ransomware attacks on a global scale. In fact, and rightly so, ransomware has been deemed a global issue that needs an international resolution. Such is the gravity of the situation that 29 ransomware attacks1 have already hit local governments in the US this year. And mind you; we’re talking about the US, which is known for strong security measures in every field.
So, what’s the most fundamental cause of ransomware attacks? As an IT or cybersecurity professional, the answer is pretty straightforward—unpatched vulnerabilities. And what is the most widely used operating system for desktops and laptops? No expert needed to answer that question. It’s Windows. Thus, what’s this blog all about? Of course, Windows patch management.
What is Windows Patch Management?
As an IT admin, you are already aware of patch management, regardless of the operating system. But let’s have a quick brush-up. Windows patch management is a set of policies to identify, gather, assess and push updates or patches to fix vulnerabilities in Windows operating systems and native apps. The addition of new features also requires the pushing of OS patches.
Pushing patches, however, is half the battle. An equally vital element for IT admins is to ensure that all patches are properly installed on the Windows device fleet without errors. A patch report is also important.
Primary Challenge in Windows Patch Management
While IT teams of most organizations are aware of what Windows patch management is, many tend to procrastinate the patch process. With 493.33 million2 ransomware attacks detected globally in 2022, that’s flirting with danger! Rather, sleeping with danger!
It’s worth pondering that, despite such glaring numbers, what stops IT teams from making patch management a part of their operational DNA?
We don’t really procrastinate OS patch updates on personal Windows devices, especially after repeated notifications or buggy device experiences. It’s simple. The latest OTT flick can wait, and we just click the update option, whether it sometimes takes a few minutes or hours. Unfortunately, IT admins in charge of hundreds and thousands of organizational Windows devices don’t always have this luxury of time. Employees get cranky about unwarranted device downtime during working hours. Businesses cannot afford to push devices into restart when customers are waiting.
They have a point.
Let’s explain this with a real-world example:
Imagine the design team of an organization trying to meet a critical project deadline using 15 Windows systems. Now, the IT admin has identified a vulnerable patch in these systems. The IT admin tells the design team these 15 systems will be down for 2-3 hours. “Come on, we have a deadline, do it next week”—the unanimous decision of the design team. The IT admin agrees but is caught up with other tasks the next week, and the systems remain unpatched.
A few days later, all 15 Windows systems succumbed to a ransomware attack. The attackers demand USD 2 million in ransom, threatening to leak all the confidential data and documents (NDA, pricing brochures, etc.) if the ransom isn’t paid within 7 days. A huge company-wide tussle followed because the estimated cost of the design project was USD 100,000. Don’t laugh! Your organization could be next!
The above example perfectly explains why experts believe global ransomware costs are expected to reach USD 265 billion3 by 2031.
Bad actors are in no mood to turn good. Hence, the onus is on businesses, governments and the IT fraternity as a whole to imbibe patch management best practices. It’s a telling factor as to why Microsoft has Patch Tuesday. That’s the only way to fight ransomware gangs.
The elementary solution is to automate Windows patch management via solutions like mobile device management (MDM).
Why Windows Patch Management is Must for IT Teams
Let’s face it—manual patching is out of the window in today’s era. Windows patch management or MDM software can alleviate IT admins from many manual and redundant tasks.
Here’s what makes automated Windows patch management necessary for IT teams.
Device & Data Security – Check!
This is a no-brainer now after all that we have discussed above. The prime significance of Windows patch management is to enhance device security. Properly patched Windows devices are the least susceptible to attacks like ransomware. Consequently, it safeguards the corporate data stored on these devices. Is there anything more important than that?
Reduced Device Downtime – Check!
Automated Windows patch management via an MDM solution allows IT admins to schedule patch updates strategically. IT admins can configure the update sync interval within which the patch update will be pushed automatically. They can choose to sync driver updates and either prompt or force the reboot of devices to install the patch updates. IT admins can decide upon these options based on device and employee availability, reducing device downtime. No more frustrated employees or dissatisfied customers. High productivity!
Compliance – Check!
This advantage is an offshoot of the improved data security that timely and automated patch management brings to the table for organizations. Apart from the financial losses and damaged brand reputation, data breaches also put organizations in murky waters of non-compliance if private data is compromised. With tight data and device security, automated patch management ensures organizations stay compliant with data privacy regulations.
Organizations and their IT and cybersecurity teams must remain vigilant to avoid data breaches. From an OS point of view, such as Windows, patch management is a decisive element in protecting organizations from ransomware strikes. While it doesn’t guarantee 100% ransomware protection, it certainly adds a strong line of defense.
Scalefusion MDM provides automated Windows patch management to ensure your organization has a strong defense against growing ransomware threats. Speak to our experts or get started with a 14-day free trial today!