A patch is a fix that is applied to software, firmware, middleware, infrastructure, and other IT areas to improve or repair specific IT elements. In security terms, a patch is most often applied to remove vulnerabilities that could be exploited by criminals.
Terms related to Patch: vulnerability, maintenance patch, computer patch, systems patch, patch management, software update, service management.
A computer patch is typically used to update, fix, or improve computer systems, most often software applications. Computer patches will often come from software developers and computer system manufacturers as the result of identified bugs or vulnerabilities in code. Patch files are often distributed as “executable” programs that can be run and will automatically identify and update the areas that need to be fixed.
It is important to assess and implement patches quickly and thoroughly, provided the patch does not cause further problems (for example, with integrations or special software use cases.) The process of locating, testing, applying, and managing patches is known as “patch management.”
The most urgent patches are those associated with patching known vulnerabilities in software, systems, and code. These vulnerabilities can be rapidly exploited by criminals, so it is vital those gaps are closed.
The range of vulnerabilities and patch deployment will be specific to the environment that IT systems run in — for example, a cloud infrastructure provider will deploy patches to the underlying infrastructure, whereas developers in your business will need to deploy patches for bespoke software. A ‘software as a service” provider will issue patches to their web-based software that will be automatically applied without you needing to do anything.
Patch management is a vital part of any business’s IT service management process, and should always be prioritized.