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Microsoft Patch Tuesday Survival Guide

September 13, 2021

By Peter Barnett

Table of Contents:

5

Microsoft Patch Tuesday Schedule

5

Patch Tuesday Strategy and Best Practices

5

How to Automate Patch Deployment

Microsoft introduced the Patch Tuesday concept in October 2003. Each month Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, and others release software patches for their software products for enhanced usability and vulnerability remediation. The regular Windows Security Patch Tuesday schedule allows system administrators to plan for their patch deployment and cybersecurity routines.

When is Microsoft Patch Tuesday?

Each month, the second Tuesday is when Microsoft delivers security updates for Windows servers and desktop and other products to the public. Every update comes with a Microsoft or Windows security bulletin, and system administrators have access to all release details, such as vulnerabilities and advice for risk mitigation.

Microsoft releases non-security updates on the fourth Tuesday of each month. The Microsoft patch release schedule deviates from the usual Tuesday only when Windows critical patches or out-of-band (OOB) updates are required — for extremely serious, actively exploited security issues that require immediate patching.

Since 2003, other software companies such as Adobe and SAP have also adopted the Patch Tuesday schedule to roll out security updates.

Patch Tuesday Best Practices

Patch Tuesday has been around for over a decade. However, every second Tuesday of the month may be associated with heightened stress levels among IT workers. Time is a critical matter when it comes to patch management and the effort to eliminate security vulnerability can become chaotic.

This survival guide for handling Microsoft Windows Patch Tuesday highlights best practices to help system admins overcome common challenges and approach patching routines with a proactive approach.

The Ultimate Strategy for Surviving Patch Tuesday

  • Check Microsoft Security Response Center (MSRC) bulletins to understand which of your systems and applications may be affected.
  • Prioritize patch deployment and start with the most critical updates first.
  • Plan patching for when user machines are least busy to minimize downtime for the end-users.
  • Sometimes Microsoft releases revised updated versions due to initial post-deployment challenges, so testing the patches before deployment across the organization is recommended.

If the second Tuesday of the month is not your favorite, here’s what you can do to ready yourself:

1. Check for Any Upcoming Updates

Keep an eye out for updates and keep your patch management plan ready. Pay attention to vulnerability advisory feeds such as the National Vulnerability Database, SANS Internet Storm Center, and SecLists.org that discuss vulnerabilities, cyberattack tools and techniques, and other updates.

Stay up to date on release notes and follow blogs that are relevant to the software deployed at your organization and popular frameworks — Microsoft Security Update Guide, Adobe release notes, etc. Conduct penetration tests to see if there are exploitable vulnerabilities or hotfixes that you need to work on.

2. Prioritize Patch Deployment

Security bulletins rank vulnerabilities with severity ratings and explain what could happen if the update in question isn’t deployed in a timely manner. Define critical and zero-day vulnerabilities that will require immediate action within your environment. Evaluate outcomes and prioritize patch updates based on their severity levels:

  • Critical. It is advised to fix these vulnerabilities immediately. The exploitation of this kind of vulnerability could allow code execution with no user interaction via malware, browsing web pages, or opening an email.
  • Important. In these scenarios, user data confidentiality and integrity may be at risk, and important vulnerabilities should be patched as quickly as possible.
  • Moderate. Authentication requirements can alleviate patches with a moderate rating. In this case, vulnerabilities are less easily exploited, but still, it is recommended to deploy these patches.
  • Low. The possibility of exploiting these vulnerabilities is rare, and Microsoft suggests considering the necessity of the update deployment.

3. Secure Your IT Environment with Automation

To make routines more efficient, consider implementing patch management policies into your organization and automate the process. Define policies such as testing, deployment based on severity, and schedule to save time and effort for your IT team.

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Pro Tip

If you want to ensure all your endpoints are always up to date and protected, automate patch management.

4. Consider Cloud-Based Patch Management Tools

Manual path deployment with legacy solutions is not the best approach to cybersecurity even with an impeccable execution plan. Large organizations and organizations with a hybrid workforce can no longer rely on LAN-dependent tools. Cloud IT management solutions become a lightweight and cost-effective alternative for remote patch management automation and efficient IT routines maintenance.

Try Action1 Automated Patch Management Solution

Action1 RMM’s cloud patch management can make sure all your endpoints and applications are always up to date and secure without a single on-site visit. The centralized, cloud-based, automated patch management system makes patching and vulnerability management more efficient and effortless. IT security professionals have real-time control and visibility into installed software, OS, and missing updates across corporate endpoints with no dependence on LAN. 

Automate your update distribution processes for Windows OS and software with Action1 tools for patch automation. Sign up for a free trial today.

See What You Can Do with Action1 RMM

 

Join our weekly LIVE webinar “Patching and remote management” to learn more

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