Reducing Data Breaches: Fixing Unpatched Vulnerabilities


Reducing data breaches starts by fixing unpatched vulnerabilities in IT systems and IT departments.

When unpatched vulnerabilities are causal factors in 60% of data breaches, it’s time to close the gap between technical factors and technical resources.

Dark Reading cites three trends that lead to unpatched vulnerabilities. We’ll examine each and explore ways to patch IT systems and IT managers.


Unpatched Vulnerabilities Trend #1: Fear of Breaking the System

Companies fear breaking their systems with software updates that fix unpatched vulnerabilities.

This reservation is more robust when organizations combine legacy applications and Software as a Service (SaaS). The complexity compounds when IT teams don’t have enough time to test updates before going live.

In early 2021, the Canadian Prime Minister’s office was locked out of its email system after installing a Microsoft security patch.

Stressful episodes like this force IT departments to choose between security, uptime, and productivity. What an unfortunate menu of options! Each path is bound to create a backlash.

Envision a Strategy to Build a Better System

Building a better system is easier said than done. No one can rip and replace everything at once. This is why we suggest baby steps, starting with an IT strategy based on budgets, standards, policies, and proven best practices that support your mission.

I just described the contents of a Strategic IT Roadmap, a blueprint to systematically plan and implement secure, compliant, and resilient IT systems.

Can your IT department generate plans, policies, and enforcement? Is everything documented and updated? If not, this personnel vulnerability is patchable with vCIO and vCISO project expertise from an MSP.

Learn More:  vCISO Services Overview


Unpatched Vulnerabilities Trend #2: IT Staffing Shortages

With IT staffing shortages, hiring additional staff to manage unpatched vulnerabilities is increasingly difficult.

It’s also expensive to hire cybersecurity professionals with up-to-date skill sets. Lastly, the high demand for qualified talent with the latest certifications means consistent issues with turnover.

A recent Ponemon Vulnerability Report identified these two alarming trends:

  • 64% of organizations plan to hire additional staff to address patching problems
  • Vulnerability response consumes 320 hours a week, which takes eight full-time people

Even if your organization is much smaller than the sample group of Ponemon respondents, it’s hard to justify hiring one full-time employee to spend an entire week with routine patching exercises.

Outsource Your Biggest Staffing Headaches

IT MSPs have repeatable processes to manage and repair unpatched vulnerabilities. Collectively, they invest millions in robust automated tools and experienced cybersecurity teams.

ConnectWise, a developer of MSP management software, empowers IT providers of all sizes to complete routine tasks that would be impossible to tackle in-house—even if your in-house team had this software or one of their competitors.

The expertise gap mentioned in the first section applies to credentials and acumen in operating advanced software programs. ConnectWise is not plug-and-play.

Mastering this Professional Service Automation (PSA) and Remote, Monitoring, and Management (RMM) platform requires ongoing training and certification through ConnectWise University and supplemental consulting engagements for integrations and customizations.

An MSP is committed to this journey. IT departments are not. Most in-house IT teams have difficulty keeping up and only utilize a fraction of the features, creating another “unpatched” staffing vulnerability.

Learn More: How to Overcome IT Staffing Shortages


Unpatched Vulnerabilities Trend #3: Failure to Scan

As Piero DePaoli, Senior Director of Marketing at ServiceNow, notes,

“About 37% of breached organizations don’t even scan for vulnerabilities.”

You read that correctly. Regular vulnerability scanning is one of the most effective ways to prevent breaches, as long as you act to identify weaknesses and then conduct remediation to close the gaps.

Failure to scan is a byproduct of improvisational IT and is less likely to happen when partnering with an IT provider.

Patching Vulnerabilities is in the Contract

I can’t imagine any reputable MSP would agree to support a client who wouldn’t permit the scanning of vulnerabilities. This situation would be risky for both parties, unprofitable, and ripe for lawsuits. IT system performance would also be terrible!

Skip the drama and work with an IT MSP for comprehensive monitoring and alerting for managed systems, including:

  • Network patching
  • Firmware updates
  • Operating system updates
  • Microsoft product upgrades for supported systems
  • Server and workstation patching
  • Server firmware updates
  • After-hours patching
  • Line of business application patching and upgrades (major and minor version changes)
  • Client-initiated updates and patching

Realizing you need help is half the battle. Do you have evidence your IT team is actively scanning for cybersecurity gaps? If you’re not sure, an MSP can immediately fix this vulnerability.

Learn More: Five Ways Companies Fail with Vulnerability Management


Your Quest to Reduce Unpatched Vulnerabilities

You’re not alone if your IT staff doesn’t follow an established process. The biggest data breaches in the US feature some of the biggest names and oversights in business.

The Equifax data breach of 2017 impacted 163 million people worldwide and cost the company nearly $2 billion to remediate, update systems, and settle damages with the FTC and other affected parties.

And it all started with a third-party web portal vulnerability incident. While this backend vulnerability was fixed, Equifax didn’t close the gap by updating its internal servers.

As a result, the cyber thieves stayed active on the internal network for 76 days gaining access to a wide swath of sensitive data.

Is your sensitive data exposed to unpatched vulnerabilities spanning people, processes, and technology? It doesn’t have to be.

Schedule a free consultation if you have any questions about unpatched vulnerabilities.





Jed is a Solution Advisor at Integris who has specialized in MSP solution development, sales, and marketing communications since 2003.

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