As cyber threats evolve in complexity, both individuals and businesses must remain vigilant and take steps to safeguard their data and systems. Regular patching is one of the most effective measures against cyber attacks and is part of the Essential Eight strategies highly recommended by the Australian Securities Directorate as a baseline security measure. This blog post examines the importance of patching and how it can help minimise your risk of cyber threats.
What is Patching?
Patching is a proactive and essential cybersecurity measure that involves applying updates to software to address vulnerabilities, enhance security and reduce risk. Software vulnerabilities and bugs can be exploited by cybercriminals to gain unauthorised access to computer systems. Patches are basically updates by software developers to address these weaknesses by closing any loopholes. Not only do they fix known vulnerabilities, but they can also prevent future attacks by enhancing the overall security of the system.
Best Practices for Patch Application
To ensure the effectiveness of patch application in securing systems, it is essential to follow these best practices:
1. Firstly, establish a formal patch management process, including regular vulnerability scanning.
2. Prioritise critical patches and ensure timely communication and coordination within your organisation.
3. Regularly monitor and update patches to address newly discovered vulnerabilities.
4. Finally, educate employees on the importance of patching and provide clear instructions on how to install them correctly, or enlist the help of Cyber Security Experts.
Time is of the Essence!
The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) emphasises the urgency of patching, stating that once a vulnerability in an internet-facing service becomes public, cybercriminals can develop malicious code within 48 hours, sometimes within 24 hours!
To mitigate cyber threats effectively, follow to these recommended timeframes:
- Internet-facing services: Within two weeks, or within 48 hours if an exploit exists.
- Commonly targeted applications: Within one month.
- Other applications: Within one month.
The Consequences of Neglecting Regular Patch Updates
Neglecting regular software updates can expose individuals and businesses to a host of security risks and operational challenges. Failing to apply patches promptly increases the likelihood of cybercriminals exploiting known vulnerabilities, potentially leading to unauthorised access, data breaches and financial losses.
Beyond the immediate security concerns, neglected updates can result in malware infections, damage to reputation and legal consequences, particularly in industries where compliance standards mandate a secure and up-to-date IT environment. Operational disruptions, including system downtime and loss of productivity, are also common consequences, as unpatched systems may suffer from performance issues.
Patching is a fundamental practice for mitigating the risk of cyber threats. By applying patches promptly, organisations can reduce the window of opportunity for attackers to exploit vulnerabilities. It’s a dynamic process that requires ongoing attention to stay ahead of emerging threats.
Cloud Connect’s security solutions are designed to ensure that your business remains protected, on-track and in line with the ASD’s Essential Eight.