Painful patching: How to lock down networked devices
Source: SearchSecurity - Posted by Pax Dickinson   
Network Security Given the fact that almost all networks are connected to the Internet nowadays, your one hope of staying secure is to constantly patch all machines on the network with the latest vulnerability fixes. This may not be a big deal in environments consisting only of Windows 2003 servers and Windows XP workstations, for which you can simply use Microsoft's Software Update Services (SUS), System Management Server (SMS) or any number of third-party tools for patch updates. However, if your computers are running non-Microsoft operating systems or non-PC devices, or if your VPN allows connections by computers not controlled by your company, keeping everything up-to-date on your network becomes much more complex -- although not impossible.

Comprehensive patch management for heterogeneous environments is considerably more difficult and more expensive than homogenous environments, but there are ways to manage patches in such environments. In the sections below, I discuss some of your options in difficult patch management situations.

Many people don't realize it, but networked non-PC devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), can pose a significant threat to your network's security. Of all the PDAs you see people using in your company, how many of those PDAs does your company own and maintain? People often bring PDAs into the workplace running an out-of-the-box configuration and attach them to the network. Although PDA-based exploits aren't as common as PC-based exploits, there are documented cases, nevertheless, where Trojans were found running on PDAs. Unless you control PDA usage in your company, you could be exposing your network and the data it contains to exploits.

The best way I know to counter such threats is to establish a policy mandating that only PDAs issued by the company are allowed to be connected to the corporate network or to computers belonging to the company. Once you control all of the PDAs used throughout the company, you can focus on patch management.

Read this full article at SearchSecurity

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