A relatively new technology that is used for the execution of various system updates and patches, Virtual Patching service has been designed and developed by Microsoft to automate the handling and installation of the different patches and updates for a number of critical system applications. In layman terms, Virtual Patching service is a type of service that automates the installation of patches and thereby patching for security vulnerabilities as well as preventing the system crashes that may result from the vulnerability. This type of service is executed by installing the patch software and then letting the system run the patching program and then patching the vulnerabilities.
With the advent of newer technologies like Hyper patched environment, Virtual Patching has gained more prominence among many organizations. Although it still faces many limitations in its operations, this technology has significantly improved the overall efficiency of many organizations by allowing them to smoothly handle the patch management of the numerous patches and updates for their applications. With this service, companies can more efficiently deal with the installation and the patch distribution of the patches for their software and hardware. Below are some of the major benefits that one can get from the virtual patching services offered by Microsoft:
* Reduces the attack surface of the targeted application – A patch can only be installed on a computer system that has permission to accept it. If there is no authorization for the patch to run on the targeted system, then the patch will not be accepted and therefore cannot patch the vulnerability that is associated with that. In other words, virtual patching service enables one to patch critical systems safely and without hassle. As a result, your employees will not have to worry about the security of their systems, work will continue uninterrupted and your web application firewall will be able to efficiently manage the web application firewall. This will in turn ensure that your company’s network is free from vulnerabilities and your network will remain secured at all times.
* Reduces the risk of a security vulnerability exploits – The increasing rate of vulnerabilities and the sophistication of the threat that these exploits create has forced many organizations to shift their efforts towards the securing of their networks against the remote possibility of exploits. A lot of the vulnerabilities that organizations face today are developed by attackers using various means, some of which are very simple and some of which require advanced programming languages like the ones used for web applications. A patch developed and released for the operating systems may not be sufficient to address the problem and one will need to deploy an additional firewall that will cover the loopholes that the remote exploit may create. The virtual patching services will help you to address the vulnerabilities that may be present on your operating systems without deploying any additional hardware. In other words, you will be able to successfully secure your system against the remote threat and you will be able to enjoy continued network performance.
* Scalable solution – With the availability of scalable solution for virtual patching, companies can easily deploy patches on to their servers without affecting the overall server infrastructure. This reduces the risk that is associated with the Patch Management Service that was mentioned earlier. You can easily add and remove patches without affecting the machines as well as servers. This capability makes it possible for you to replace or upgrade your patches whenever required without any negative impact on your business.
* Reduced risks of attacks – The chances of attacks on your servers from malicious code that has been embedded in those apps is reduced significantly with the use of virtual patching. When you have a server that is not patched, attackers may easily bypass security measures and infect your system with their malicious codes. If the apps are not properly secured, they may also leak sensitive information to attackers that may result in data loss. In this case, the company becomes vulnerable to the attack and it causes severe problems for its clients. On the other hand, a properly patched app will ensure that all the sensitive information is safely removed and cannot be leaking to the hackers.
* Reduces threat to end-users – It is important for a company to deploy a robust application firewall so that the end-user does not come into contact with any malicious codes. With virtual patching, an application firewall is enabled so that no unauthorized code from any patch is allowed to connect to the vulnerable server. Since there are multiple attacks happening simultaneously, the end-user experience is very dangerous because he/she does not know that the application firewall has been enabled. When the server is attacked, it may bring many vulnerabilities including the remote code execution vulnerability, stack based exploits, URL cloaking, etc. With the help of virtual patching technology, only a single attack can take place thus protecting the server from all threats.
* Reduces downtime – Since only a single application firewall is enabled, downtime caused to the customers is minimal. Most of the companies give undue importance to the application firewall but ignore the virtual patching altogether. A single firewall is never enough to protect your company from attacks and hence should be coupled with the virtual patching. It allows the company to get back online faster after a virus or intrusion and minimizes the downtime that the customers face due to unpatched systems. Moreover, with improved reliability, your enterprise can benefit from more efficient utilization of bandwidth and with improved uptime.