The Importance of Patching: The Best Offense is a Good Defense

October 18th, 2017 by admin

Ever had a pesky Windows pop-up ask you to update while you’re typing at 2000 WPM, keyboard smoking from the fury, and you can’t help but feel like it’s not your top priority? You’re not alone. Patches can be time consuming and can disturb workflow if not managed correctly, however, they have a huge impact on your system’s stability and security. Let’s look at just how important patching is, and some ways to make it easier to manage. Did you know that 85% of targeted cyber-attacks are preventable? Did you know in 2015 only 29% of businesses took even the most basic step of regular patching to prevent attacks? And last, but not least, did you know that two months BEFORE WannaCry ransomware infected 300,000 users worldwide, (shutting down hospitals and causing maximum mayhem) Microsoft released a patch that made it impossible for WannaCry to get into your system? That’s 300,000 users completely losing access to their computers and data, because they didn’t take patching seriously! If you’re a regular "patcher" you can use this information to pat yourself on the back and be grateful you aren't knee deep in the thralls of cybersludge (real word). If you haven't stayed up-to-date on your patching, there is no better time than the present to make habits that will help keep your computer healthy for years to come. Here are three things to keep in mind that will make patching a breeze for you:  

1. Patch often

This may seem a bit counter intuitive, if your goal is making patches less intrusive, why would we want to do it more often? Keeping your computer patched is a bit like keeping the house tidy. Patches are released frequently and can stack up. Let the patches stack up too high and it’s like letting your house go from a ten-minute tidy up, to an all-day project. Patch often to avoid the headache. This is also a friendly reminder to clean your house.  

2. Configure times for your patches to auto-install

Depending on your OS you have slightly different options for auto-patching. Windows 10: This is the easiest version of Windows to configure this feature on. Optimizing your “Active Hours” settings can make it so Windows will automatically download and install updates without the possibility of restarting in the middle of the work day. This takes five minutes to setup and instructions can be found here. Windows 7 and 8: On Windows 7 and 8 the keywords to look for are “Maintenance Window”. This is a setting in your Windows Update page that controls what time Windows will automatically install patches. This will take five minutes to set up, but will save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Instructions can be found here.  

3. Make sure your computer is powered on regularly.

This is one of those steps that is obvious when you’re thinking about it, but is easy to forget. If your computer is off, it can’t patch and will be more vulnerable to attacks and bugs. A good rule to follow is to make sure your computer is on for a 24-hour stretch at least once a week. This gives your machine time to download and install any patches that have come out that week, so you are not interrupted by a shutdown. On the other hand, if you never turn your computer off, you will run into a variety of other issues. We recommend restarting your computer at the end of the every day. Restarting at the end of the day will prevent you from having to wait delayed amounts of time if there are a large number of patches waiting to be installed. Additionally, it will properly sign you out of your account. Just make sure that you are "restarting" your computer and not “shutting it off.” Turning your computer off at night will prevent patches from being able to run.   There are many intricacies to patch management and configuration, and getting it perfect typically requires the equipment and expertise provided by IT professionals. At Equinox, we provide the tools necessary to make patching an automated breeze for your entire office. For more information, give us a call and we will connect you to one of our patching specialists.     Kender Ostlund

Posted in: Protection, Security, Tech Tips, Productivity