If it ain't broke, don't fix it. This is often sage advice when dealing with mechanical items, but when discussing security updates for operating systems and key applications often leveraged by hackers with ill intent, a proactive security patch management system is critical to maintaining data security and system health. However, proper vetting and testing is required to be sure updates don't create more problems than they solve.
This month, we explore the logic behind Innovative's patch management services, as well as Microsoft's upcoming move toward cumulative updates, we discuss access to after-hours support, and we meet Automation Coordinator, Ben Gagnon, whose primary role is overseeing patch management services for our clients. Enjoy!
Dave DelVecchio, President
An ounce of prevention...
There are many who prefer to avoid applying patches and updates to their software and operating systems as long as possible. However, just because software is functioning doesn't mean it isn't broken. New vulnerabilites are discovered and exploited daily, making automated security updates essential in maintaining a healthy computing environment.
Innovative provides automated update delivery through our Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) solution. At the core of this service is a thorough review of the security updates, critical updates, and definition updates of Microsoft and select third-party applications, and a well defined testing and delivery schedule, delivered to clients on a conservative, moderate, or aggressive schedule, depending on their industry and internal change management requirements. In addition, for those clients in regulated industries, comprehensive monthly patch health reporting is provided to assist with auditing requirements.
Innovative maintains a thorough description of our patch management process for review, but does not publish publically so as not to broadcast update timing to those that may wish to exploit any potential vulnerability window. However, if you would like to learn more about the process by which Innovative delivers updates and patches, please contact us to provide access to more information.
Beware: Cumulative Updates Ahead!
Starting this October, Microsoft will be changing now updates are delivered for Microsoft will change how updates will be delivered to Microsoft Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Servers 2008 R2, 2012, and 2012 R2. Instead of continuing to operate in the one-patch-per-vulnerability model, Microsoft will begin issuing monthly all-in-one cumulative updates for these operating systems. In other words, going forward, there will be only one Security update, and November will include updates from October and November, December will include October, November, and December... and so on.
There are pros and cons to this approach, and most of the cons are mitigated by leveraging a managed solution like our Innovative patch management service. To learn more about cumulative updates, please read this recent blog
written by our Automation Coordinator, Ben Gagnon.
Why do you play hard to get?
Not all clients work within standard business hours of 8:30am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Therefore, for clients under service agreement whereby remote access is possible by our technicians after-hours through our Remote Monitoring and Managment platform, we offer access to an emergency number when technology issues arise after-hours. Through this number, a client can report an issue to our answering service, who will then contact the technician on-call to contact the client to begin the triage process.
However, we do not publish this after-hours number on our web-site. In the past, the after-hours number had been used repeatedly by those not already engaged with Innovative, and such inquiries put the techs on-call in the difficult spot of having to explain the service was for existing clients only. While we'd love to help those in need, without experience in their environment, nor access to tools like our RMM resources to facilitate remote access and troubleshooting, our technical hands were tied.
If you are a qualifying client and do not know our after hours number, please contact us for more information. Also, please share this information with all contacts authorized to engage us after-hours as well. A tip is to program the number into your cell phone to be sure you have it available should a system-down event ever prevent you from looking it up electronically when it is needed most.
Meet Ben Gagnon
Joining our staff in late 2012 as one of our call center technicians, Ben
started his IT career as an Assistive Technologies Specialist through the Office of Information Technologies (OIT) at a local university. In 2006, he moved to New Orleans, first helping business rebuild after hurricane Katrina and implementing sound disaster recovery practices, then teaching blind and low vision clients how to use computers for a New Orleans non-profit. Upon his return to MA, he taught IT certification classes for a local technical college.
When long-time engineer and former partner Sean Benoit left Innovative in 2014, Ben stepped into the role of Automation Coordinator. Ben oversees our patch management and automatic monitoring alert systems, and develops tools for our technicians to rapidly deploy software and solve problems across multiple client locations at once.
Outside of work, Ben is an avid hiker, nature lover, and metalworker, sculpting steel in his garage and giving welding lessons to anyone who wants to learn. He also sometimes volunteers at local vegetable farms just to get dirt on his hands.