Keeping Your Business Safe from Attack: Patch Management explores available Microsoft technologies to assist with the management, testing, and deployment of Microsoft security updates. This book first describes the elements that comprise an effective patch management program, including the software, processes, and training, and subsequent chapters explore the Microsoft patching technologies, communication bulletins, patch assessment tools, and Microsoft's patch deployment tools covering small to large organizations.

Thanks to the rapid proliferation of nefarious worms with names such as MS Blaster, NIMDA, and Code Red, applying Microsoft security updates is becoming a staple of any business connected to the Internet or outside world. Most fast-spreading, heavy-hitting worms actually leverage exploits in software that had been previously identified and fixed weeks (and in some cases months) before. These worms have sent a loud and clear wake-up call to IT departments everywhere to get serious about patching.

The process of deploying patches is only the tip of the iceberg. A successful and comprehensive patch-management program combines well-defined processes, effective software, and training into a holistic program for assessing, triaging, obtaining, testing, and deploying software patches.

Keeping Your Business Safe from Attack: Patch Management describes in detail those attributes that make up a successful patch-management program. As a reader, you can use this eBook to strengthen your internal processes and harness Microsoft’s evolving update distribution framework to create an effective patch-management program custom designed to meet the exact needs of your company or organization, regardless of size or industry.

Chapter 1 of the eBook describes the elements that comprise an effective patch-management program, including the process, software, and training. This chapter includes ideas for setting up a Patch Management Triage and Deployment team, subscribing to security advisories, triaging new patches, and devising processes and polices around deploying new patches. Chapter 2 delves in depth into the Microsoft software update bulletins and communication framework designed to help you understand and triage new software updates. By understanding where to look for patch information, you'll be able to make quick and relevant decisions for when and how to deploy patches within your organization.

Software updates change the way that the OS and applications function; therefore, to mitigate any risk to your current operations, it’s extremely important to first test all software updates in a lab or other non-production environment. Chapter 3 walks you through the ideas and methodologies for creating a patch test lab that emulates production systems to give you confidence when deploying new updates.

The remaining chapters of the eBook describe in detail Microsoft patching technologies—from the individual executables used to deliver the actual patches to Microsoft’s systems designed to deploy the patches automatically for you. Chapter 4 describes the patching engines and construction of the MSSecure.XML software update database, and Chapter 5 examines individual solutions for obtaining updates, including Windows Update and Office Update. The eBook concludes by exploring Microsoft’s corporate solutions such as Software Update Services (SUS), the new Windows Update Services (WUS), and Systems Management Server (SMS) designed to automate the distribution of new software updates.

Regardless of the size of the IT infrastructure that you manage, you probably realize the importance of staying up to date with Microsoft software updates. By better understanding Microsoft’s software update framework, you'll be able to stay ahead of the curve and ensure that your systems are quickly and efficiently patched while minimizing downtime resulting from patch-related outages.
— Jeff Fellinge
Director of Information Security at aQuantive where he researches and manages technologies that improve business security