Virtually overnight, corporate endpoint security shot to the top of every IT department’s priority list. Employees who previously connected within the security of the corporate intranet began to connect daily from their homes on a variety of devices. This new modus operandi made endpoint security paramount for ensuring employees and thus corporations were protected from malware and other cyberattacks. Patch management, mobile help desk management and patch automation became critical priorities.

Attack Surface

Proper endpoint control and management are essential to the reduction of attack surface. In March of 2020, almost half of corporations encouraged their employees to move to remote work. Remote desktops and laptops that had been a second priority to on-premise devices for security patch deployment became number one so as not to significantly increase potential attack surfaces. This rapid change in priorities many times caused IT departments pain. Some traditional enterprise security solutions struggle with remote endpoint patching and remediation due to their reliance on VPN connections, which aren’t always available in remote configurations.

Device Variety

Remote environments come with an abundance of variety in devices. Instead of uniform desktops or laptops, IT departments are dealing with non-uniform desktops and laptops as well as tablets and phones. Staying ahead of the need to patch this variety of devices complicates remote patch management and can cause delays in device patching. Any delay leaves enterprises open to data loss and corruption as well as malicious attacks.

Incremental Patching

Many enterprise security solutions also struggle with incremental patching and rely more on scheduled applications of service packs. Remote application of service packs can cause issues due to bandwidth challenges in remote configurations. Incremental patching not only lessens bandwidth challenges but also has less impact on employee productivity as it takes less time for each update, avoiding costly delays to employees’ device access.

Importance of Automation and Vendor Coverage

The sheer volume of remote patch management quickly becomes overwhelming for IT departments without automation and extensive coverage of third-party vendors. Operating systems and third-party applications require patch management on many different schedules, and any delay in pushing these patches out to remote devices increases security risks. Ensuring compliance with industry standards requires the ability to design a schedule for all patches and automate the schedule so there is no delay in the application of necessary patches as they become available. Further, many free patch management products are limited to only one or two vendors, which doesn’t provide sufficient coverage to mitigate security threats.

Continuous Detection With Alerting

With critical endpoint devices out of the physical control of IT departments, alerts become even more essential than they have historically been. Interruption in patch applications like a user shutting a device down during installation or even drops in connectivity can cause unsuccessful patch updates. This makes it essential that patch deployment management solutions use automated detection to identify machines without current patches and push (or re-push) current patches to them. Any devices that continually fail patch application can generate alerts to IT department staff to drive manual interventions.

Reporting

IT departments need to be able to see at a glance their entire infrastructure of devices, whether on-premise or remote, as well as what has been patched and when, especially with executives requiring more frequent summary reports showing successful mitigation of threats for these newly increased remote workforces.

The rapid switch to remote working as a norm has definitely been a challenge for IT departments across the country. However, with proper support from patch management software that functions well within remote infrastructures, IT departments can rest easier knowing they’ve reduced their attack surfaces and secured their corporations’ infrastructures.