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Overview of Managing Software Updates
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To maximize the security and reliability of computers running Microsoft Windows XP Professional, you must regularly install the latest software updates. To do so, you must first design a software update management solution that meets the business and technical needs of your organization. Once this plan is complete, you can use the four phases of the software update management process to manage software updates on your network:
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Assess phase Create a hardware and software inventory, prioritize high-value computers, and create a set of baseline computer configurations. Identify phase
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Identify new software updates, and evaluate their relevance on your
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Evaluate and plan phase Create an implementation plan, and begin testing software updates to ensure that there are no compatibility issues with your network. Deploy phase Prepare to roll out software updates, perform the deployment, and then check for missing or failed updates.
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Part II:
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The software update management process, like other software deployment processes, is a continuous and cyclic process. After you complete the deploy phase for one set of software updates, you might need to begin again with a new set of software updates, or even run through the process in parallel for multiple updates.
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The Need for Software Updates
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Prior to the widespread use of the Internet, administrators usually updated software only when a major bug was discovered. Software companies released updates several times a year, at most, and distributed them via floppy disks, CD-ROMs, or electronic bulletin boards (BBS). Viruses were transmitted by floppy disks, and hackers conducted attacks locally or via modem connections to computers with dial-in access enabled. When users began connecting computers to the public Internet, security vulnerabilities blossomed as hackers began to launch attacks over the Internet. This led to a vastly increased discovery rate for software vulnerabilities, and a new generation of viruses and worms were created that spread via e-mail instead of via infected floppy disks. Today, attackers, virus writers, and spammers create increasingly sophisticated attacks, most of which exploit known vulnerabilities for which fixes are available. Viruses and attacks that make use of these vulnerabilities propagate despite the availability of updates because of the uneven and slow distribution of the software updates. Some potential costs associated with these attacks include the following:
Loss of intellectual property Loss of confidence in data integrity Lost productivity as a result of downtime Public image degradation and loss of customer confidence Potential legal concerns Cost of fixing any damage
To prevent successful attacks, implement a software update solution, as described in this chapter, as a part of a comprehensive security policy.
Designing a Software Update Solution
Managing software updates is a large and critically important task that requires choosing an appropriate software update management application and taking the proper steps in your organization to ensure its success.
15:
Managing Software Updates
Ensuring Success
For a software update solution to be successful, it must meet your organization s technical and business needs, have the proper support in the organization, and be created to proactively address risk. To ensure that your software update solution is successful, perform the following tasks:
Define goals for the project.
The goals that you create should be specific, achievable,
and measurable.
Identify how software update management fits into your overall security plan. A software update solution is only one component of an effective network security plan. Design a solution that will continue to meet the needs of your organization. The software update solution that you implement should accommodate trends in your organization such as growth or increasing decentralization. Identify the resources available to the project.
This includes creating a budget and iden-
tifying personnel.
Obtain buy-in from management across the entire organization. Determine who must sign off on the project, and get management involved in the design of the software update solution. Make sure that roles and responsibilities are clearly established, and consider creating an organizational chart identifying the chain of command for escalating issues. Obtain buy-in from your user community. Educate your users, and get them involved in understanding the issues and the importance of the process. Assess risk. Identify the risk factors involved, including discovering new software vulnerabilities during deployment process, schedule slips, and cost overruns. Create a proactive plan to address identified risks, and use this as a template to deal with unidentified risk. Create a schedule. Create a tentative schedule, and update it as you choose a software update solution and implement it. Use the following recommendations to minimize scheduling risk:
Include leeway in the schedule. Develop high-risk components first. Update the schedule as milestones are reached. If you are behind schedule, determine why and whether other aspects of the schedule need to be reevaluated.
This policy should include reporting to upper management of compliance and noncompliance so that they can escalate issues as necessary.
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