Every piece of software has security holes. It’s a product of people wanting to break or “hack” into software. Be it financial gain, malicious intent, or even by accident; new security vulnerabilities are constantly being discovered. You can think of vulnerabilities as a “hole” in your software. Once found, these holes can be used to access and manipulate your devices. Once a breach has occurred, any number of payloads can be executed: Key loggers, Malware, Bot Networks, and the list goes on. A recent example is the “WannaCry” Ransom-ware which encrypted data and attempted to facilitate payment to recover. This was based on an SMB vulnerability which was discovered in all of Microsoft’s Operating Systems, dating back to Windows XP.
I’m sure we have all heard of “patching” or Windows Updates. These are the responses to discovered vulnerabilities and are critical for cyber security. The second Tuesday of the month is known as “Patch Tuesday”. Microsoft releases new patches for any newly found vulnerabilities, as well as bugs in software and other non-security updates.
Most of the time, general updates, as well as service packs, are fine to be left alone for a while. However, security updates should be applied as soon as possible. Usually we see IT departments schedule a patching window and sometimes multiple windows to allow for testing, before implementing to production environments. During this window, a system reboot is typically required, which means that downtime will occur. It’s always better to have scheduled downtime over being breached and potentially taking down the entire network for recovery / investigation. Organizations with an Active Directory Domain usually use WSUS (Windows Server Update Services) or some other patch management tool to manage the process.
For home or small businesses, windows updates can be configured for automatic installation. I find it best to configure updating for every Tuesday after hours. This usually means around 1:00am on Wednesday morning. This way, when patch Tuesday comes along, I know it won’t be long before any applicable updates are applied.
It’s not just Microsoft that has to deal with vulnerabilities. Any and all software is susceptible to updates, and any good software company should prioritize releasing new versions with the fixes applied. The main issue with software-specific fixes is the lack of central management to deploy and track the software versions.
Syncura offers remote monitoring and patch management that not only works for the Windows Operating System, but for third party software as well.
Keeping you up-to-date and secure is our top priority.