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Identifying and Adressing software Vulnerabilities through Patch Management

By CIOReview | Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cyber security threats have grown exponentially with the increasing influence of Information Technology in the enterprise workflow. Patch management since long has existed as the means of safeguarding the software by fixing the software vulnerabilities with newer code changes. In this regard, patch management deals with maintaining existing knowledge of available patches, deciding what patches are appropriate for particular systems, ensuring that patches are installed properly, testing systems after installation, and documenting all associated procedures, such as specific configurations required, to name a few. Successful patch management requires a robust and systematic process.

History testifies the fact that a huge percentage of the cyber security incidents reported are caused due to successful exploitation of a comparatively small number of vulnerabilities in systems and applications. To shun away from attacks through known issues or vulnerabilities, organizations should ensure that all IT system administrators are up-to-date with the newest security patch/ hot-fix releases from their software vendors. Patches and updates should be evaluated frequently and applied to the operating system and/or applications that make up the organization’s information systems. The patch management process should be well timed and receptive. To accomplish this, the patching process should be managed in a systematic and controlled way.  


Trojan horse is the best example of backdoor breaches as they make inroads into the system when the up-gradation and services of devices is in process. It comes through an unmonitored pathway into companies secure environment. These codes like Trojan horse can give ability to the hacker to control the system without being recognized. The Backdoor breach can also be executed by connecting with the enterprise hardware. Some devices may have available ports, which can be used to connect to secure environment. Console ports on routers, which are used for router administration, can be a point to target for the hackers. Router device can be compromised by gaining its connection through the console port and then the attacker can change or delete configuration

Software Exploitation

The core vulnerabilities of the software are exploited in this type of attack. The error in program codes can be the target point for the attackers to carry out the assault. Attackers can determine those errors and then employ them to achieve access to the secluded system.

Buffer Overflow

When the scales are not set on the amount and quality of data to be allowed into the application, buffer overflow can occur. Buffer overflow is a prime example of software exploitation attack. Various tribulations and problems can be experienced if buffer overflow occurs, which include Denial of Service (DoS), freezing, rebooting, achievement of unrestricted access.

Inappropriate data needs to be clogged to keep buffer overflow at bay. Programmers have to play a big part to ensure that intrusion detection is working seamlessly to determine the real timing of buffer overflow attack.The companies can also put into practice, the file system encryption, access control and auditing.

Deployment of Patches

After getting the account of all vulnerabilities, patching them in a system may be as simple as altering a configuration setting or it may necessitate the installation of a completely new edition of the software. Administrators and engineers have to play the role in the deployment of patch management process in systems. No solitary patch method can pertain across all software applications and operating systems. Product or application vendors may offer specific instructions for applying security patches and updating their products, and it is recommended that system administrators comprehend all the relevant documentation provided by vendors before proceeding with patch installation.Security patches should be implemented through an established change control process. Before applying a new patch, administrators may want to conduct a full backup of the system to be patched. This enables a quick and easy restoration of the system to a previous state if the patch has an unexpected impact on the system. After the patch is installed, it is incumbent upon system administrators to verify that the systems and applications are functioning seamlessly, and that they abide by the laid down security policies and guidelines.