May 21st marks the annual 'I Need A Patch For That' awareness day. This is the ideal yearly reminder to assess your patch management initiatives and look at how you protect your network from malicious actors, as well as providing valuable lessons to learn from all year round.

New research has revealed that businesses are increasingly being targeted by malicious actors, more so than the individual consumer – detections of cyberattacks targeted at enterprises increased by 195% compared to Q1 2018. With this in mind, it’s crucial that businesses are doing everything they can to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.

However, time and time again, high-profile security incidents show that many businesses are still failing to implement basic cybersecurity ‘best practices’. WannaCry originally highlighted this in 2017, but since then we have seen numerous high-profile cyberattacks, such as those announced by Facebook and BA last year. Cybercriminals are able to rely on the same tried and tested techniques, according to Verizon, as businesses are failing to learn from their mistakes and are not keeping on top of routine patches to mitigate cyber-risks.

Cutting down the noise surrounding cybersecurity is integral to protecting a company and its data. Going ‘back to basics’ will simplify cybersecurity practices and make it easier for businesses to spot and resolve vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by blackhat hackers.  

Go ‘Back to Basics’ With Patching

Starting with a comprehensive and effective patch management programme, you can layer up your business’s cybersecurity strategy to further minimise risks. Ensuring that your organisation is protected from the ground up is key, and there is no better way to start than by patching known vulnerabilities as a priority.

Businesses that fail to properly and efficiently implement patches are only putting themselves at risk. Arizona Beverages is an unfortunate example of this as it was recently hit by a large-scale ransomware attack that was attributed to unpatched and obsolete, outdated software that had passed End Of Life (EOL), providing hackers with an easy way into its network.

With an effective patch management system in place, the software and programmes that a company has installed, whether used frequently or left by the wayside, will be updated and secured with the latest bug fixes and entry points plugged. This practice essentially stops hackers exploiting holes in your network that are known to the developer. As well as this, businesses need to make sure that any software that has gone EOL is removed in order to mitigate risk.

Layering up 

While patching is one of the most crucial cybersecurity practices, utilising a layered approach is the best way to ensure all-round protection. It’s important to remember that, while you may have a solid patch management programme, software that has reached End Of Life will no longer receive patches and updates from its developer. The longer your business operates using this software the more at risk it will become so it is essential to remove vulnerable, out of date software as soon as possible. Training is another simple but vital way to protect against cyberattacks.

Additional tools such as vulnerability management, privilege access management, application whitelisting and ensuring that regular system back-ups are implemented are also essential to a layered approach to cybersecurity. Supporting patching and other key security practices with added layers of protection can help to reduce attack surfaces, detect attacks quickly and allow cybersecurity professionals to take rapid action if the worst should happen.

Cybersecurity can be complicated, but there is no need for it to be. ‘I Need A Patch For That’ day is a reminder that all businesses need is a best practice outlook that focuses on the foundations of cybersecurity, such as patching, education and the removal of legacy software.

Protect yourself from the next wannacry