More often, we see businesses getting hacked every year. While hackers always tend to find new ways to break into computer systems, cyber threats have become a pressing issue for businesses. To mitigate the risk of data breaches, organizations are turning towards deploying resilient network security, and patch management solution is what helps them achieve this.
For beginners and experienced professionals alike, here’s a brief rundown of what software patches are and what they do. Patch refers to a piece of code that helps in fixing bugs, updating the already installed software in your system, and improving the performance. With a proper patch management tool in place, organizations can enable the automation of such updates.
So, if you are mulling over the decision to deploy a patch management system for your company, we have got one for you!
Introduction to Patch Manager Plus
As the name suggests, Patch Manager Plus is a comprehensive patching solution that supports cross-platform patching for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Whether it is your roaming devices, virtual machines, laptops, servers, or desktops, this patching solution has the ability to deploy patches from a single interface.
Patch Manager Plus supports patching for more than 350 third-party applications and 750+ patches to help you stay 100% secure. Moreover, it comes with pre-built, tested, and ready-to-deploy packages that make the work easier. This patching solution can be implemented on the cloud as well as on-premises.
Prominent Features of Patch Manager Plus
PMP can be set up for different types of users based on the role they perform within their organization. For example: IT administrator, Auditor, Patch manager, and technician.
In this round-up, we will be analyzing it as an Administrator.
As you log into your Patch Manager Plus account, you will see a screen as below:
As an administrator, you require quick insights into what is happening across the organization. Patch Manager Plus’ home screen gives you an overview of crucial information like systems where deployment failed, systems that require a reboot, unapproved missing patches, automated deployments, and patches that the system failed to download.
In addition to these, it gives you alerts and reminders, ensuring you don’t miss taking action on important tasks. As you scroll down the page, you can see various charts that give you an insight into various patches, systems, and operating systems. Hovering the cursor over a specific part of the chart lets you have a glance at the information, whereas clicking on it drills you down to the detailed data.
Moreover, there’s also a section of the latest security news, which is managed by Manage Engine and is continuously updated for you to help you stay up-to-date with vulnerability and security information across the world.
When the Patch Manager Plus server synchronizes with the Central Patch Repository, all the systems in a specific network get scanned for the missing patches. Once it collects all the related data, it categorizes the same under different views on your Patch Manager Plus portal.
The data is categorized under the following:
- Missing Patches: It gives you an understanding of the number of systems that are missing their patches. You can select one or more systems and deploy the missing patches right away.
- Installed Patches: Here, you get an outline of the installed patches in your network. It also facilitates you with an ‘Uninstall Patch’ feature, which lets you remove any patch directly from the console.
- Critical Vulnerabilities: It refers to the risks or threats associated with your system. Critical vulnerabilities or zero-day vulnerabilities like Spectre, Meltdown, and more are displayed here.
Here, you can have a look at the state of every individual system in your network. Further, you can choose to deploy the missing patches and approved patches based upon the requirement.
Similar to patches, these systems are also classified under different categories, including:
- Highly Vulnerable Systems: It depends on the user’s requirement and how they set it up on system health policy. For instance, systems that lack installation of one or more critical or important rated patches are tagged as highly vulnerable.
- Vulnerable Systems: Systems that do not have one or more moderate or low rated patches installed are categorized as vulnerable.
- Healthy Systems: Systems that have all the required patches installed are said to be healthy.
Well, the classification of the above systems is done based on your settings in the System Health Policy.
- System Health Policy: Here, you can define the health of your systems by specifying the severity of patches. For the system to be categorized as highly vulnerable and vulnerable, you need to set a number each for critical patches, important patches, moderate patches, and low severity patches. When any of your specified criteria are met, Patch Manager Plus will mark the system as highly vulnerable or vulnerable. If none of them is matched, the system will be marked as healthy.
You can even access Advanced Settings to be more specific.
Suppose that you are an IT Administrator who requires setting up daily patching tasks. With Patch Manager Plus, you can accomplish this either with manual deployment or automate the deployment process.
- Manual Deployment: You can name the configuration, select the patches you want to install or uninstall, schedule deployment, and choose to apply the deployment policy as relevant. Besides, it lets you define the target, i.e., your remote offices or domain. If the execution fails, you can also retry it ‘n’ number of times. Also, the system notifies you about the status via email.
- Test and Approve: Before deploying any critical patches in your system, it is inevitable to test them. Consider a bank application, for instance. Deploying a patch that doesn’t function as expected will lead to severe inconsistencies. So, in order to avoid such situations and minimize the possibility of downtime, Patch Manager Plus lets you test the patches by creating a test group before they are rolled out to all the systems. For the approval, you can either do it manually or enable the system to automate it. You can create test groups for users with different operating systems to ensure the working of patches in a different environment.
- Automate Patch Deployment: To overcome the troubles of missing critical updates, Patch Manager Plus empowers you to automate the patch deployment process. Thus, you can create multiple patch automation tasks and also set specific parameters for the same. Right from selecting the deployment policy to configuring notifications, everything can be personalized as per your needs.
- Disable Automatic Updates: Patch Manager Plus enables you to disable automatic updates for any of the applications you want.
- Deployment Policy: Creating a deployment policy every time a manager wants to automate a task is pretty time-consuming and intimidating. So, Patch Manager Plus has got some pre-made deployment policies that you can simply select while you create any deployment task.
In addition to this, you can also create your own policy, wherein you can choose among options like installation and reboot. This helps the system determine when it needs to deploy the patch. Here, you can set a schedule specifying weeks, days (opt for Saturday/Sunday so that productivity of the employees is not hampered during their weekdays), time (after the employee shift is most suitable), and the initiation point (when the system starts or during the refresh cycle).
Patch Manager Plus lets you choose your preferred week split, i.e.
- Regular Split: This lets you define the start of the week as per your need. For example, you can begin the week split from Saturday/Sunday or any of your preferred days. The cycle starts accordingly.
- Based on Patch Tuesday: Patch Tuesday is when Microsoft and Windows release the latest news and updates on vulnerability information, bugs, fake issues, or patches. You can also choose to deploy patches as per this schedule.
Patch Manager Plus has a set of predefined reports that you can leverage for audit purposes and get a knack of how the systems are working. Alternatively, it enables you to schedule reports and download them as and when required.
The agent refers to a lightweight component that is installed on the computers. It interacts with the Patch Manager Plus server once every 90 minutes, which can be defined as a refresh interval.
Installing agent aims at managing all the computers within your organization’s local and remote offices seamlessly.
The admin section of Patch Manager Plus is a cluster of all the settings that you come across all the above modules, along with some additional technical settings.
Right from patch compliance to creating insightful patch management reports and customizing deployment policies, Patch Manager Plus gives you complete visibility and control over your patching. Besides, it poses features like role-based access, antivirus updates, two-factor authentication, and more. It comes in three editions, namely – Free Edition, Professional, and Enterprise; thus, meeting your business needs.
If you are looking forward to ensuring security for your systems, Patch Manager Plus is the prominent choice to make. You can know more about its SoftwareSuggest Profile Page or visit their website to get a free trial.