Patch management is an essential administration task. By providing updated patches to your environment, security experts agree, that up to 80% of known exploits and vulnerabilities would be rendered trivial. This consists of scanning machines on the network for missing patches and deploying those patches as soon as they become available. Failure to do so makes a infrastructure vulnerable, because not only is the vulnerability there, but it has now also been publicized, making it more likely to be exploited by malicious users, hackers and virus writers.
The problem seems that time and again countless administrators fail to apply the right patches, as proven by worms such as Slammer, the January 2003 worm that spread by exploiting known vulnerabilities in non-patched Microsoft SQL 2000 servers. Until recently, the main reason for this was because installing patches in a large environment, was a cumbersome and daunting job.
Microsoft SUS is a free patch management tool used to help administrators deploy security patches and service packs, more easily. Instead of each workstation having to connect to the Internet to update Windows, each workstation connects to a trusted (internal) SUS Server instead, and updates from there. The SUS Server alone requires access to the public Internet as it connects to Microsoft's Windows Update server.
By connecting to Windows Update, the SUS Server provides notification of critical updates as well as performing automatic distribution of those updates to your workstations and servers. The SUS server gives the administrator control over updates: The administrator can test and approve updates from the public update site before deployment on the corporate intranet. Deployment takes place on a schedule created by the administrator.
To find out more about how automating Windows updates can be done in your environment, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/windowsupdate/sus/default.asp for more information.
Other Patch Management tools:
HFNetChkPro 4.0 from Shavlik - http://www.shavlik.com/
PatchlinkUpdate 4.0 - http://www.patchlink.com
UpdateExpert - http://www.stbernard.com
BigFix - http://www.bigfix.com
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More Articles by Michael Desrosiers © 2011-03-18 Michael Desrosiers
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