LANDESK & Patching: Why It’s Important

Do you know that feeling you get when you’re driving your car and the “check engine” light comes on?  Perhaps it’s just time for an oil change, which maybe can be delayed. Perhaps it is something more serious that requires immediate attention. Often there is no way to be sure without consulting a professional. What a pain.

Now, imagine the light coming on, and imaginary mechanics coming up to your car at the next stop light, performing a pit stop and getting you back on the road within minutes. That is what LANDESK does in response to a “check engine light” event for your computer. A minor inconvenience can save hours, or even days, of trouble later on. It is designed to keep your computer safe, provide timely updates and keep you on the road.

That’s where the similarities end. Rarely are people attacking your car while you drive (unless there’s a zombie apocalypse). On your computer new vulnerabilities are discovered frequently. Any one of them could cause a real problem. Manufacturers take steps to protect their customers by issuing updates, or “patches,” to keep your computer safe.

If you skip an oil change or you neglect to rotate your tires, chances are you will get around to those tasks eventually without too much folly. However, if you miss a patch on your operating system or critical software, you can expose yourself and the university to attackers looking for data. Microsoft did an analysis of compromised systems and found that 99. 9% of attacks are not zero-day. A zero-day attack is when an attacker exploits an operating system or application using a new vulnerability that has not been previously identified. Patches exist for the most common malware. Almost all virus infections and computer compromises happen because a patch wasn’t applied to the computer.  

Attackers often use automation to determine vulnerable computers they can exploit. It isn’t personal. Computers are often scanned on an industrial scale. The more we do to shield ourselves from becoming a target the better. In smaller, less capable organizations it is incumbent upon each person to ensure their system is protected. Luckily, we have LANDESK to help do this work for us.

LANDESK and the IT Service Desk are constantly looking for security updates and patches. They evaluate the criticality of applying updates and test to ensure that applying them won’t break your system. Their goal is to cause minimal disturbance to you while keeping you and Ohio State protected at the same time.  

If your car’s engine blows up because you voided the warranty by not getting regular oil changes, you’ll be out quite a few dollars. If hackers steal sensitive university data because patches were not timely applied, something even worse could happen. It not only could cost the university quite a few dollars but it also could impact people who have entrusted their data to us. Allowing LANDESK to perform as designed is a welcome insurance policy.

It’s worth the few minutes it takes to get you safely back on the road. 

Please note this article references LANDESK which is used for OCIO managed assets.  The importance of patching and asset administration outlined above is applicable to everyone regardless of the tool.