Microsoft has partnered up with the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to create a guide designed to make enterprise patch management simpler.
Microsoft originally worked with partners from the Center for Internet Security (CIS), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), as well as customers.
Discussions with customers revolved around the testing of patches and confusion over how quickly they should be implemented.
Mark Simon, lead cybersecurity architect at Microsoft, claims, "This articulated need for good reference processes was further validated by observing that a common practice for ‘testing’ a patch before a deployment often consisted solely of asking whether anyone else had any issues with the patch in an online forum."
This realization led to discussions around launching the Critical Cybersecurity Hygiene: Patching the Enterprise Project, designed to build common enterprise patch management reference architectures and processes.
Throughout this project, relevant vendors will build and validate implementation instructions in the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) Lab and share their results in the NIST Special Publication 1800 practice guide for all security professionals to use.
Microsoft has extended the invite to any vendors who have technology that could help streamline the patching process and organizations or individuals who have security best practice tips and lessons to share.
While patching software is widely known to be incredibly effective at mitigating security risks, patching is often resource-intensive and can reduce system and service availability. That being said, addresses these vulnerabilities has never been more important as we increasingly rely on modern IT systems.
Applying patches is described as a basic security control outlined by the Center for Internet Security in CIS Control #3. The same information about vulnerabilities discovered and patches available to remediate the issue are available to both the organizations looking to protect their systems and also hackers who are looking to take advantage of any gaps in security. That's why organizations must run automated scans of the entire IT environment to stay ahead of these attackers.