by James McGregor - Consultant, DNS
- Friday, 15 August 2003.
In short, it requires investment, and with it recognition from budget holders within companies that patch management is important and essential enough to be taken seriously, and be a distinct and recognized element of the system administrator's job role. Given the financial damage incurred from cleaning up after a virus outbreak with an organization, proactive patch management should be considered a sound business investment with real, tangible benefits.The home user is equally at risk from viruses, but patch management presents an entirely different set of problems. Running Windows Update and then downloading megabytes of patches over a dial-up connection for hours is likely to cause frustration, from both the downloader and their partner who would really like to use the phone. Broadband users are in a better position in this respect, but since the network connection is "always on", the temptation is to leave the computer "always on" as well, thus rendering it "always vulnerable". The solution (for both dial-up and broadband home users) is to employ a firewall solution to block incoming traffic originating from the Internet, deployed as a separate hardware or software solution, or with appropriate port filtering. With, of course, anti-virus software with recent virus definitions.Patch management will, in the end, save you time and money. The malicious software writers are already hard at work on copy-cat versions of the current viruses and worms, no doubt aimed to cause much more damage, and probably working hard at exploiting the next generation of vulnerabilities. Next time, blaster may be set to kill.