“…preventative measure to keep the operating system up-to-date and protect it from potential security threats, such as malware injection….”
What is Server Patching?
Server patching refers to the process of updating your operating system (such as Windows or Linux) with the latest fixes provided by the respective vendors. This is similar to how cars require regular maintenance and repairs to continue functioning properly. For example, Microsoft may release patches to the Windows Operating System through a Windows update. However, sometimes the patches themselves can cause certain functionality of the operating system to break or introduce a bug that affects the production environment.
At TheGigabit, we’ve patched thousands of servers across all 6 of our Data Centers in Asia. If you need help managing patches for your Linux Web Hosting, just reach out to us! We offer a Premium Antivirus – Imunify 360 to keep you safe. Now that you know what server patching is, let’s talk about why it matters and how it can protect your business.
Why do servers need to be patched?
Servers need to be patched as a preventative measure to keep the operating system up-to-date and protect it from potential security threats, such as malware injection. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure! Regularly patching servers ensures that they are equipped with the latest security fixes, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities being exploited.
Why is server patching important?
- Keeps your server safe from hackers
Hackers can exploit weaknesses in your server’s software to gain access to your data. Patches fix these weaknesses and make it harder for hackers to break in.
- Makes your server work better
Patches can fix bugs and problems that slow down your server or cause it to crash. By installing patches, you can keep your server running smoothly.
- Helps you follow the rules
Some industries have rules that require you to keep your server software up to date. By installing patches, you can stay compliant and avoid penalties.
- Gives you new features
Patches can add new features and improvements to your server’s software. This can help you do more with your server and make it easier to use.
- Shows you care about security
By regularly patching your server, you show that you take security seriously. This can help build trust with your customers and make them more likely to use your services.
Consequences of No or Delayed Server Patching
Now, what happens to your organization if you do not patch your servers in a timely manner?
- Security vulnerabilities will be exploited
Some businesses decide to forgo updates because they believe their firewalls or antivirus software will detect serious threats before they can do too much damage. However, as malware becomes more sophisticated, firewalls and antivirus software become less effective in detecting breaches.
This is evident in a few data breach cases that took place in 2022, such as the iPay88 data breach case and the AirAsia ransomware attack case. The consequences of the latter event led to a damaged company reputation and a total loss of 5 million customers’ and employees’ personal information. This leaked information could potentially be used for further malicious activities. As a result, the airline company faces revenue loss as many Malaysians question their safety with them.
As for the payment gateway data breach, many condemned the company for not investing more in its cybersecurity, which led to its users questioning the integrity and reliability of the organization. This will indirectly affect the company’s sales and future business partnerships.
Let these real-life cases be a lesson to all on the potential damage of neglecting cybersecurity, which involves regular server patching.
- Recovery will be expensive
Recovering from a breached system can be very expensive, much more than patching it in the first place. If you postpone patching, you will have to pay for two major costs: recovering from an assault on an unpatched system, and catching up with patching if it has been neglected.
However, the true cost of not patching your servers goes beyond monetary expenses. A breached system will eventually lose customers’ trust, loyalty, and most importantly, damage the organization’s reputation. This is why it is crucial to patch your servers on time.
The cost of unpatched servers includes system recovery cost, catching up with patching cost, loss of revenue, damaged reputation, and additional hidden costs.
In conclusion, patching your servers is essential for any business.
What kinds of systems require patching?
All systems in an IT infrastructure require regular patching for the safety of the business. This includes:
- – Infrastructure that supports customer-facing applications and services, such as point-of-sale (POS) systems in retail, which are often at high risk of security vulnerabilities.
- – Infrastructure that supports the organization, such as mail servers, file servers, enterprise apps, servers, workstations, and networking equipment.
- – Devices used by employees to do work, including corporate laptops, desktops, tablets, networking equipment, IoT devices, and personal devices. Any device connected to the internet, whether in-house or remote, should be considered for regular patching to protect sensitive or critical data.
If an organization is subject to compliance statutes or regulations, they will be required to update systems and applications regularly and within a reasonable amount of time after a patch has been issued. It is critical to have excellent reporting and visibility of patching status across systems, applications, and other IT resources.
Types of OS Patch Management
The approach to patch management can vary depending on the environment in which the update is being applied. Let’s take a look at two popular operating systems: Windows and Linux.
Microsoft regularly provides scheduled updates for Windows operating systems and other products like Office 365 on a day nicknamed “patch Tuesday.” Standalone systems can use the Windows Update feature to automatically download and apply the patch once it’s released.
Businesses, however, are more likely to use WSUS included in the Windows Server environment to manage and deploy Microsoft patches. Alternatively, they can use third-party services such as the JumpCloud® Directory Platform to centralize patch management.
In Linux, patches can be deployed manually or automated through a patch management tool. Since most Linux systems lack the user-friendly interface of Windows or MacOS environments, IT admins must issue system commands through the terminal manually.
This process can be tedious and error-prone, and requires the necessary technical expertise to manually patch the Linux system. Automated patch management for Linux systems is more efficient because it can scan for missing updates, download them, and test the patches in non-production environments. If the tool discovers that the patch doesn’t cause any issues, it automatically approves and schedules it to be rolled out in the production environment.
Make Sure to Update Your Server Software to Keep Your Data Safe
It’s important to regularly update your server software to protect it from viruses or other harmful things. By doing this, you’ll keep your data safe and your organization’s reputation intact. For more information on server patching, check out the FAQs below. And if you found this article helpful, feel free to share it with others!”
Server Patching FAQ
- How Often Should You Update Your Server?
It’s best to update your server software as soon as possible after the vendor releases a new patch. But if the software is needed all the time and can’t be turned off for updates, it depends on how much risk your company is willing to take, how well the system can handle problems, and what the vendor recommends.”
- What Is the Difference Between Server Patching and Vulnerability Management?
Server patching is a process that distributes and applies updates to operating systems and applications. Its main goal is to fix errors or bugs, also known as vulnerabilities, in the software. On the other hand, vulnerability management is a set of processes that organizations use to identify assets on their networks, categorize the operating systems and applications on those assets, and report weaknesses in the target systems. A vulnerability management solution typically scans the assets and reports known vulnerabilities, along with advice on how to fix them.”
- What is the server patching life cycle?
The server patching life cycle is a set of steps that a patch goes through before it can be installed in an operating system or application. These steps are:
Checking for updates: IT admins make sure they have the latest information about patches from different sources.
Finding vulnerable systems: IT admins look for computers that are at risk of being hacked because they have security problems.
Choosing the right patches: IT admins figure out which patches are needed and which ones have already been installed.
Downloading and installing the patches: IT admins get the patches from the software vendor’s website and install them on the computers that need them.
Reporting on progress: IT admins create reports to show what they’ve done and what still needs to be done.