IT Patch Management

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Patch management is an integral part of systems management today. It deals with the procurement, the testing and the installation of necessary updates for applications, drivers and operating system of computers.

The meaningful translation of the English term "to patch" is "mend". Transferred to the world of programming, the patch refers to software that is developed to update, optimize, or fix a computer program and / or its supporting data.

In this way, for example, a security leak in an existing, already delivered to customers software application close. A new installation or even a new purchase is not required.

Practice has taught that patches can not always be done easily. Experienced system administrators therefore try to minimize the risks associated with a patch. You create backups. Also, the test of the supplied patch on a system that is not critical for the company, before the actual installation, prevents unpleasant surprises.

Patches: three common approaches

When patching - it is the usual way in the software sector of the need-based correction of an existing software in use by customers. The need for a patch has different causes. That's why the industry differentiates between three types of patches:

  • Bugfix: Bugfix refers to the issuing of errors, which settle in the program source code.
  • Hotfix: Hotfix refers to the urgent fix of errors in the application program.
  • Update: An update is the classic form of updating. It includes functional enhancements, in part also the issuing of errors.

The software manufacturers like to use generic names for the update cycles of their products. A typical example is the "service pack" of the US manufacturer Microsoft.

Patch Management - basic element of IT security

The core content of patch management includes planning, obtaining, testing, and installing code changes to existing software. For many users, patch management is not yet common in the desired scope. But poorly or not at all installed software updates are entrance gates for aggressive attackers, computer viruses and other malware. Hackers exploit emerging vulnerabilities to invade IT structures, manipulate data, or access sensitive data. Operating systems are just as much in focus as the application software.

Analysis and management automatisms

To effectively close the gateway for attackers and pests, there are several products available for analysis and management on the market. We're talking about an automated form of patch management that's available for today's enterprise system environments. This automated patch management checks for vulnerabilities. At the same time, it keeps you up to date on the availability of updates. The operating systems used in the company and the application software used are compared with the databases of the patch management provider. Present patches and updates are reported. They can then be entered automatically or individually by the system administrator into the system environment.

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