Questions to Determine Your Education IT Best Practices for Patch Management

Is every education IT department patching as effectively as it could be? As education IT environments become more complex and the waves of patches continue to increase, introducing changes on the fly is no longer an option. Without a cohesive best practice approach, proactive patch management is an elusive goal.

Students can’t benefit from information technology if it isn’t up and running. A key element is ensuring that your school district has the latest software security to protect vital programs from malware, viruses and other critical threats. Patch management best practices deploy the latest, most effective strategies for protecting technology resources from a rapidly evolving array of hazards.

IT professionals know that when their network is at risk, the organization is at risk. It is a challenging task to keep up with and apply security or software updates within the IT infrastructure. Especially if the networks span multiple locations, include multiple domains, traverse multiple firewalls and include remote and home users.

Here are some questions to ask as you prepare for the implementation of patch management best practices in education IT environments:

Patch Management Best Practice #1 – Discover and Assess
Determine the current state of your campus/district network.

  • Are there any threats in your environment?
  • Has anything changed in your operations?
  • Do you have an accurate, current inventory?
  • Can your infrastructure support patch management?

Patch Management Best Practice #2 – Identify and Test
Employ procedures to obtain patches and stack-rank for use across the campus/district.

  • How do you learn about new patches?
  • How do you decide if the patches are relevant and necessary?
  • Which desktops and servers will need a patch?
  • Which systems are most vulnerable?
  • How will you test the patch itself?

Patch Management Best Practice #3 – Evaluate and Plan
Develop the patch software deployment policy and schedule and a corresponding exception plan.

  • How will you install the patches?
  • Who will do it?
  • When will it happen?
  • What will the impact be on users?
  • How will you test after installation?
  • What will you test?
  • Do all functions still work?

Patch Management Best Practice #4 – Deploy and Remediate
Coordinate distribution with stakeholders, manage patch exceptions and compile relevant reports.

  • Do you notify users pre-deployment?
  • Do you check all your distribution/deployment points?
  • How do you manage patch distribution progress?
  • How do you deal with slow connections?
  • How do you handle exceptions?

Patch Management Best Practice #5 – Automate
Automate IT systems management to reduce delivery cost, improve staff productivity and ensure system performance.

  • Assess – use pre-defined network scans to assess installed (and uncover missing) patches
  • Identify – create alerts to capture new software added to inventory and create new patch schedules
  • Evaluate – create periodic vulnerability reports and compare to patch policies to determine which patches are needed
  • Plan – create patch analysis and patch test scenarios
  • Deploy – schedule patch distribution by time, by system, by group or by user-defined collection of systems
  • Remediation – create exception handling routines and real-time deployment reports

A proactive patch management strategy requires the successful and seamless execution of disparate functions. Effective strategy should employ patch management best practices and address patch planning through automation to ease the impact of change.

Click here to listen to our “4 Best Practices for Patch Management for Education IT Professionals ” webinar!

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