The patching of software is a tried and true activity that helps to protect IT infrastructure and end-user computers from possible security threats, while also supporting the installation of ongoing software bug fixes and feature enhancements.
Most software is updated by the software vendor either on a regular schedule — think Microsoft’s so-called Patch Tuesday — or on an ad hoc basis as the need for software patching arises. In this article we will discuss whether a company should manually patch infrastructure servers and end users, or whether it makes more sense to purchase an automated patch management tool to reduce the time IT personnel spends keeping operating systems (OSes) and software applications up to date?
As the description above makes clear, whether or not to patch is not the dilemma — companies must keep their computer software up to date with the appropriate patches. In fact, in the case of publicly traded companies, regular patching of software may actually be required by federal regulations such as The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure(FRCP) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Many of these government regulations provide for substantial financial penalties and even possible criminal charges for CEOs and CFOs of publicly traded companies that do not abide by regulatory requirements.
There are similar financial, healthcare and corporate regulations in most countries around the world, so patch management should be a priority for every company. The decision to deploy automated patch management is influenced by a number of factors, some specific to an organization and some related to the function of IT as a whole within it.