The Essential 8 Series: The second control of patch applications
Continuing our Essential 8 Series, we will address its second control, patch applications.
Patch applications can be defined as “patch management is the process for identifying, acquiring, installing, and verifying patches for products and systems. Patching applications is the systematic implementation of software updates to ensure functionality and security updates/fixes are applied to applications within your ICT environment. Patching applications prevents attackers from using known security vulnerabilities to breach your network and achieve their objectives”.
To summarise, patch applications keep all of your third-party applications, such as your Microsoft Office and industry-specific apps, up to date with the most current version, with updates happening within two weeks of becoming available or 48 hours if an exploit exists. Also, the ACSC suggests not using applications that no longer receive vendor updates as a safeguard against a cyber incident.
Imagine you have a beautiful garden with various plants and flowers (applications). However, you’ve noticed that some of them have developed small holes due to pests (attackers). If left unattended (not patching), these pests can spread and cause more damage (exploiting vulnerabilities) to your garden (your device), potentially wrecking the plants.
So why should you care as a business owner?
We have seen too many businesses using unsupported or outdated applications and need to be made aware of the attack surface that it presents. Unfortunately, in some instances, we have heard horror stories of a back door exploit happening because of it. What seems like a way to save money by keeping old applications or not wanting a user interface to change because they are used to it has cost them a FORTUNE in ransom or recovery costs.
How can we fix this issue?
You should have someone in the background (such as an IT service provider) monitor all the applications on every device in the organisation and push the updates for each program when they become available. This not only helps to mitigate against potential risk, but it is also a way for you to stay cyber resilient.