Windows Patching: How Did We Get Here?

This is the first in a series of two short articles about Windows Patching: what it is, why it’s necessary, and how BDPNetworks implements and manages it.

imagesWindows Patching: A Necessary Evil

In a nutshell: All Internet-connected systems must be continuously patched.

But how did we get here?

We depend on software operating systems and applications for so many things these days. But developers aren’t perfect: statistically speaking there can be up to 50 errors in every 1,000 lines of written programming code.

The early versions of DOS only contained a few thousand lines of code. A few minor software errors were not a big deal. Since software wasn’t updated very frequently people could wait for major version updates for bug fixes. Bugs in DOS 5?  Just wait until we release DOS 6.

A few hundred viruses did exist at the time and spread via floppy disk. However, few people were connected to networks so the risk of a bug causing a major security problem was minimal.

Fast forward to today: Windows 8 clocks in at 50 million lines of code and Mac OS X contains almost 100 million lines of code! That’s potentially millions of defects in a whole range of severities.

For a great visualization comparing lines of code in operating systems, websites and even bacteria check this out.

There is no way to produce perfect code. Programmers are human. In today’s fast-paced continuously-connected systems, manufacturers constantly release software patches when errors are found. Some errors simply cause problems, like when Microsoft Word crashes when you’re trying to save your document. Other errors open up security holes that can put your sensitive business information at risk. There are automated systems out there that are actively looking for holes in your systems–it’s important to stay on top of patching.

(stay tuned for Windows Patching: How do we do it?)