Oh and by the way, remember Conficker? It was a big nasty worm that spread far and wide over the course of the first half of 2009 and actually still sits on somewhere around 6 million computers. In case you haven't heard, its historic spread was due in large part to the worm's ability to successfully take advantage of a software vulnerability in the Microsoft Windows operating system. Sadly, there was actually a patch for the vulnerability made available relatively soon after the worm's discovery and before it started its meteoric rise, that would have mitigated the risk of infection for many organizations. However, because many systems were simply not kept up-to-date and the patch not installed, the worm eventually infected somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 million computers.
With so many vulnerabilities out there it can seem a bit overwhelming, and perhaps this is why some IT departments have a hard time following this best practice. If the task seems daunting, try implementing an automated patch management solution. Doing so can not only alleviate the stress of keeping systems up-to-date, but can reduce man hours and the subsequent costs associated with security updates as well.
Keep Security Software Updated
Ok, perhaps we should back up a little bit. Why don't we start with simply having security software! Believe it or not, some organizations, usually smaller ones, still don't see the value in having security software. In today's threat landscape, not having security software is like playing Russian roulette with your data and infrastructure. And in all honesty, your odds of not falling victim to cybercrime probably aren't even as good as they would be if you were actually playing the lethal game of chance with a loaded revolver.
Nearly as treacherous as not having security software is not keeping what security software you do have updated with the latest definitions. To illustrate how many threats are out there and the rate at which they are being created, consider that in 2009, Symantec identified more than 240 million distinct new malicious programs, a 100% increase over 2008. To address this malware explosion, in 2009 Symantec created 2,895,802 new malicious code signatures, according to the ISTR XV. This was a 71% increase over 2008 and a number representing more than half of all malicious code signatures ever created by Symantec. As a result, Symantec security solutions were able to block an average of 100 potential attacks per second last year.
Allowing security software updates to lapse even for a day can result in a system being potentially exposed to thousands of new threats. Thankfully, organizations have help in keeping their security software up-to-date through automated utilities found in all major, legitimate security software solutions.