Windows patch management is one of the most effective cybersecurity tasks a company can do and it certainly isn’t hard to handle – but most employees find it inconvenient, time consuming, and sometimes nerve racking too.
If you’ve ever put off installing a security patch on your phone, tablet, or computer, you need to read this article.
TL;DR: Security patches arrive unexpectedly and urgently. IT experts will be the first to admit that they’re a real pain in the neck. However, it’s a really bad idea to put off patches because they can lead to serious security damage within a day. We’re not kidding. Don’t want to deal with patching? Interplay handles it for you, hassle free.
Patches are mini-updates for your computers, devices, and applications that address recently discovered software bugs or vulnerabilities. Operating systems and programs are constantly changing to deliver new features, functions, and looks – and since all operating systems and programs are composed of millions and millions of lines of code, well, there are always sure to be a few errors.
How many errors? A lot more than you’d think. In fact, industry averages place estimates at 15-50 errors per thousand lines of production code. This means Windows 10, with an estimated 65 million lines of code, may hold at least 975,000 errors. However, Microsoft claims they have a really low error rate of 0.5 bugs per thousand lines (we’re skeptical about that number), so Windows 10 may have as little as 32,500 bugs.
And that’s just one operating system. When you add in all your programs, such as Microsoft 365, Google Chrome, Spotify, Adobe, Teams, QuickBooks, etc., suddenly there are an awful lot of bugs just on your computer. Then there are the ones on your tablet, your phone, and all of your employees’ phones and tablets and laptops too. Any time any of these programs or operating systems change, more potential bugs and conflicts are introduced.
Basically, it’s a real mess.
That’s where Windows patch management and all those other patches come in.
There are a lot of software bugs out there… so what? Here’s what: any bugs in your system could become a backdoor for cybercriminals to get into your computers, devices, or networks – and criminals are always looking for backdoors.
To thwart those criminals’ evil plans, good software developers spend a large portion of their time testing and repairing bugs. Successful repairs become the patches that software companies send to you.
In the past, this was a pretty routine process and, if you’re my age, you remember the days when software updates were kind of a “take it or leave it” thing. These days, Windows patch management and device updates for Android and Apple are critically important because of Zero Day exploits.
Zero Day exploits are malicious hacking attacks that begin the day a patch is released. Here’s how they work: Patches, by necessity, spotlight existing flaws in an operating system or software. Cybercriminals look over these flaws, develop malware instantly to target them, and start mass campaigns to attack any and all slowly patched computers or devices.
With the speed and prevalence of Zero Day exploits these days, waiting even a single day to install a patch could leave your system vulnerable to attack. File that away in the “things that totally suck, but are totally true” category.
How Often Are Patches Released?
Here’s the really lame thing: patches are released all the darn time. Microsoft has created a convenient release schedule called Patch Tuesday (guess which day those are released?), but most other companies just release their patches on an as-needed basis. When serious security flaws are identified, Windows may release a patch on a day other than Tuesday.
On your end (and to your employees), this will feel like your software is constantly harassing you to update and patch, which really gets in the way of your workflow. Some updates, like those iOS updates from Apple, take a really long time. Some updates, like the ones for Word and Excel, take only a few minutes.
No matter how long the patches take, downloading and installing them instantly is much more time saving than dealing with the fallout from a potential cyberattack. We cannot stress how truly important it is to quickly update devices and focus on patch management. This action will block you from ~95% of all the cyberattacks out there (in our estimate).
As we said at the beginning of this article: Windows patch management is pretty easy, but it does take constant attention from you and your employees, so patching can really mess with your day-to-day workflow.
When you work with Interplay, one of Seattle’s leading Managed Services Providers, you can ensure that your organization is quickly installing those all-important patches on all devices and computers… without having to interrupt your day.
For 20 years, the friendly and knowledgeable IT team at Interplay has helped business leaders across a range of industries get more out of their tech, stress free. Not only are we always (and we mean always) happy to offer the best managed IT services, support, and advice, we’re also the team you can trust for the best cocktail recommendations here in Seattle or in Disney World – we’re versatile! All humor aside though, we’d love to help you get your IT running smoothly and securely, around the clock.