A Patch is a set of changes to a computer program or supporting data that is intended to improve the functionality, usability or performance of the application. This includes fixing vulnerabilities in security and other bugs using patches commonly referred to as ‘bug fixes’. All businesses must have good procedures in place to ensure the fastest possible implementation of new patches and the patching of third-party systems and applications. They must also ensure that the patches are fully installed by performing a reboot.
This can be done through the user of the software downloading an additional program which modifies a small part of the original program. The extra program or the modification itself is then referred to as the "patch".
Patches can be installed either under programmed control or by a programmer using an editing tool or a debugger. Patches can be applied to program files on a storage device or in the computer’s memory, and can be either permanent (until they are patched again) or temporary.
Although they are intended to fix problems, poorly designed patches can sometimes introduce new issues. In certain special cases, updates can deliberately break functionality or disable a device, e.g. by removing components for which the update provider is no longer licensed.
Patching can be a complex and time-consuming task. It takes time to trace vulnerabilities, test patches, distribute patches and report on the outcome.
Patch management is part of lifecycle management, and is the process of applying a strategy and plan regarding which patches are to be applied to which systems at a specified time. Automating your patch management process can reduce both the time your team spends patching and the time during which your endpoints are not patched.
Cegal and Patch
At Cegal, we monitor the patches that are relevant to individual customers. We are also work to automate the patching process, in order to minimise the downtime and risk associated with patching. In the case of Oracle, for example, we install quarterly patches for many customers. We gain a good insight into what is recommended and which patches, if any, are associated with challenges. On occasions, patches are released which must be installed immediately due to security holes. Then, we look around us!