My time this quarter is not only occupied by the exciting realm of big data, but also by the less exciting – but waaaaay more common – problem: security patching.
Here is a thought: every organization on this planet has an upper limit to their patching speed. For example, even if you threaten every sysadmin with torture upon failure and/or offer to pay them a $1m each upon success, there is no way (for example) to patch every Windows system at a large global bank in 3 days. The real situation is of course more nuanced and different systems have different time limits. Patching all Oracle databases within a week of patch release date is as unrealistic as patching all Windows desktops within one day, etc.
So, think of this as a “patching sound barrier”- you can try to break it, but your craft may well shatter to pieces. The knowledge of your limit is important since if your patch management is tied to risk reduction (as it should), and you are trying to reduce risk further by reducing your patching window, there is a point at which you really should stop trying… Also, if you can work *really* hard and shrink your patching window from 90 days to 30 days, meanwhile the attacker gets in within 3 days of patch release date, is your work really justified? Maybe other safeguard should be considered instead.
What factors affect this “patching sound barrier”? They include:
- Size of an organization
- Utilized system types (legacy, traditional, virtual, etc)
- Type of technology being patched (stock Windows desktop vs complex distributed application)
- System Admin/system ratio
- Degree of automation acceptance
- Change management process maturity
- Available patch management tools
- Desired risk balance (risk of patch crashing the system vs risk of unpatched system exploitation).
This limit needs to be taken into account when security recommendations and practices are considered and implemented.
Related blog posts on patching:
- Patch Management – NOT A Solved Problem!
- Next Research Project: From Big Data Analytics to … Patching
- On Nebulous Security Policies (featuring “we patch all systems within 30 days” boondoggle)
- All posts related to patching
- All posts related to vulnerability management.
Read Complimentary Relevant Research
Managing Risk and Security at the Speed of Digital Business
Digital business challenges the basic principles of information risk and security management. Risk and security leaders must understand...
View Relevant Webinars
Ransomware Protection: Facts and Myths
Solutions for preventing, detecting and recovering from ransomware have strengths and weaknesses. What are the true facts, and what myths...
Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.