5 Identity Security Considerations for Updating Software – 2023 Guide

Updating software is the final cyber-smart behavior promoted by Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2022 organizers – and an essential one to underline as we lock out the month. For IT security teams, updating software to address bugs and security issues has been cybersecurity fundamental for a very long time. But in most enterprise IT environments, updating software isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Some eye-opening figures that got marked last year

The previous year, threat researchers logged 18,439 common vulnerabilities and exposures in the NIST National Vulnerability Database (NVD) – or more than 50 new flaws per day. It’s challenging to take time or resources to make every software update when a new vulnerability is disclosed. Risk-based prioritization is the name of the game. It requires a balance between manual effort and automation.

As your security team brushes up on cybersecurity fundamentals this Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here are five best practices to follow for updating software as part of a broader defense-in-depth approach:

1. Prioritize critical patches

Nearly a year ago, the Log4j zero-day vulnerability shook the world. Yet despite headlines and urgent warnings about the vulnerability’s severity, there are still Log4j instances operating in the wild and exposed to cyberattacks. It’s essential to watch for critical patches for software deployed in your environment and implement them as soon as possible. Review vendor recommendations for all enterprise software platforms and any underlying OS and enterprise integrations. Treat these recommended procedures as a must. If you can’t, ensure you understand the security implications and build your defenses accordingly.

2. Check in with third-party vendors 

When critical patches are released. Make sure they’ve also patched the software you use.

3. Continuously monitor software assets

Automating inventory and tracking processes can help your team push software updates on time, manage end-of-life software, scope access permissions appropriately, and ensure weak or default credentials do not remain in use. This is especially important in hybrid and multi-cloud environments where misconfigurations are rampant.

4. Consider connected IoT devices as part of your multi-layered security strategy

IoT devices – from printers and sensors to cameras and tablets – often have well-known firmware or software vulnerabilities that can be accessed via weak credentials or default credentials that are hardcoded into the device. Finding ways to automatically monitor and secure the credentials used to access these IoT solutions is key to shrinking the attackable surface area.

5. Concentrate on the more significant problem

Credential theft is security leaders’ No. 1 area of risk. There are numerous ways for attackers to pocket credentials and manipulate identities. Many security teams are working to limit privileged access through automation to make a significant impact. Examples include implementing automated detection controls to find and block credential theft attempts or placing credential “lures” at points along common attack paths to trigger red flags.

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Our team is efficient enough in patching every software or device vulnerability; attacker waste no time in upgrading, and there’s no silver shot at cybersecurity. This is why layering Identity Security protections with vulnerability checks and patch management, or other peripheral protection is necessary for detecting threats quickly before attackers cause any marked deterioration.

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