What is a NIST Patch Management Policy? | RSI Security

What is a NIST Patch Management Policy? | RSI Security

Deployment of security patches helps mitigate threats to your organization’s systems, ensuring ongoing cybersecurity protection. Patch management organizes and streamlines these deployment processes to minimize gaps in cybersecurity defenses. A NIST patch management policy can help strengthen your organization’s deployment efforts. Read on to learn more.

What are the NIST Patch Management Policy Recommendations?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) patch management guidelines help organizations define strategies for deployment that minimize cybersecurity risks. Patches are developed and released on a scheduled (e.g., updates) or as-needed basis (e.g., following newly discovered vulnerabilities). Therefore, established processes are needed to remain up-to-date on and deploy the latest patches released by vendors or develop your own.

A NIST patch management policy can help your organization address essential aspects of patch management, some of which include:

Working with a managed security services provider (MSSP) can help your organization develop and continually execute an effective NIST patch management policy.

What is Patch Management?

Patches are software updates that rectify security or functionality issues. Software that typically requires patches include:

Patch management refers to the process of organizing patch deployment processes, the most critical of which include:

Why You Should Implement a NIST Patch Management Policy

Implementing a NIST patch management policy can help organizations achieve specific goals, including:

NIST patch management policy-driven patch management will help minimize risks to your organization’s suite of software assets. 

Critical Asset Inventory

A NIST patch management policy helps organizations maintain inventories of software and assets, which helps schedule and track patching efforts.

Inventorying Computing Assets

The NIST patch management guidelines recommend organizations to keep updated inventories of all physical and virtual computing assets, including:

Specific strategies to maximize asset inventory efforts, based on a NIST patch management policy, include:

NIST patch management recommendations can help organizations effectively track assets requiring patch updates and simplify overall patch management.

Characteristic-Based Inventorying

NIST patch management guidelines recommend that organizations patch inventoried assets based on technical or business characteristics.

Examples of computing asset characteristics that organizations can track include:

Examples of business characteristics for asset inventorying include:

Patch management policy NIST guidelines will help prioritize assets that require patching and streamline overall patch management.

Patch Deployment

Timely patch deployment minimizes the window of opportunity for threat actors to exploit security gaps. A NIST patch management policy can help your organization identify effective methods to deploy patches, minimizing any disruptions to business operations.

Minimizing Patch-Related Disruptions

Per NIST patch management policy guidelines, organizations should reduce the number of vulnerabilities introduced into IT environments. Minimizing the exploitable gaps ultimately reduces the amount of patching required.

Specific strategies for reducing security gaps and vulnerabilities include:

Organizations should also deploy patches using processes less likely to disrupt business operations, some of which include:

NIST patch management guidelines on minimizing patch-related disruptions can help organizations mitigate vulnerabilities from poor patch deployment.

Defining Patching Metrics

Patching metrics can help organizations track the progress and effectiveness of patch management, ultimately guiding future patch deployment decision-making.

Based on NIST patch management policy recommendations, organizations should leverage low-level metrics collected from various data sources, which include:

Low-level metrics help define high-level metrics, which ultimately inform patch management decision-making.

High-Level Patch Management Metrics

NIST patch management recommendations suggest organizations develop actionable high-level metrics for vulnerability mitigation, based on:

High-level actionable metrics help guide the prioritization of patching and vulnerability mitigation. Since the data from low-level patching metrics drive high-level metrics, the accuracy of the low-level metrics is critical.

Patch Management Metric Accuracy

Specific NIST patch management considerations to improve data collection and the accuracy of metrics include:

Well-defined patching metrics can help your organization increase the effectiveness of patch deployment.

Asset Risk Management

A NIST patch management policy also recommends organizations define preparedness to handle software vulnerability and risk response scenarios. 

Specific scenarios include:

Following NIST patch management recommendations for managing risk to patchable assets will help increase your security preparedness to respond to software vulnerabilities.

Strengthen Your Patch Management Processes

Unpatched systems present opportunities for hackers to exploit security gaps and vulnerabilities, risking your overall cybersecurity. Patch management helps protect your organization’s assets, especially when aligned with a NIST patch management policy. 

Working with an experienced MSSP can help your organization refine patch management processes in accordance with NIST patch management guidance. A patch management service will also help your organization remain aware of new releases to reclaim team bandwidth.

Contact RSI Security today to learn about our patch management support services!

This content was originally published here.

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