IT administrators have to endure a lot, especially when it comes to securing their employees’ computers. According to last year’s Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, the average number of cloud-based accounts that came under attack during the first quarter of 2017 increased around 300% from the same period in 2016 — exposing all virtual machines hosting these accounts to risk.
With such a steep rise in cyber attacks, identifying and resolving security vulnerabilities is critical and crucial for any enterprise IT department. Often, IT administrators find the mounting task of patching all endpoints before a vulnerability can occur daunting. Also, security vulnerabilities aren’t simply limited to operating systems; vulnerabilities can apply to third-party applications like Adobe Flash Player and Skype as well.
In such a context, it is evident that enterprises face five major endpoint security challenges in their unending fight against rising vulnerabilities.
Not Enough Hands
Organisations that don’t employ enough talent for IT administration and tech support end up with a disproportionate ratio of machines to skilled personnel. Shortstaffed IT departments may have trouble keeping up with security vulnerabilities. Configuring patch deployment requires a specific set of technical skills that are not limited to configuring registry keys and writing scripts. This is the reason why patching is often outsourced to external consultants.
Eighty-five percent companies consider Windows updates a priority, but fail to update them in time. These updates are often placed on the backburner as IT administrators don’t have enough time to implement them. This exposes the unpatched computers, making them vulnerable to malware. Analysing hotfixes to determine criticality, monitoring and prioritizing systems for prompt action, and patching on time are key to robust IT management.
Resistance To Change
Windows 10 is currently on its way to become the second most-used operating system, and it may have already got there. Even so, the shift from older versions of Windows has been gradual, with 52% businesses still using at least one Windows XP device in 2017. It is important to note that support for XP officially ended in 2014. Therefore, holding on to an older operating system owing to cost or time restrictions in going for an upgrade can be a serious hindrance to endpoint security practices. The recent WannaCry ransomware that targeted unpatched Windows XP and Windows 7 machines was a real-life example of this situation.
Gartner forecasts that the IT security industry will spend $96.3 billion in 2018 — a steep 8% increase from 2017. Growing companies that are not keen to invest in essential IT operations may end up spending exorbitant amounts to fix problems that they could have been avoided by proper IT management.
In medium and large enterprises, applying patches in bulk can cause bandwidth bottlenecks. To avoid this, enterprises need either a provision in their patch management software to eliminate these bottlenecks or a way to allocate more bandwidth to accommodate applying patches in bulk. Enterprises also need a way to patch roaming users’ systems through encrypted channels or through the internet.
Moving Forward With IT Automation
Investing in the right technology to meet patching requirements is the first step in overcoming these IT challenges. With the appropriate software, IT admins can automate patch management and reduce the amount of manual effort required to patch their enterprise’s systems.