Patching rhythm: start a monthly patch process

Thursday, 13 November 2003, 11:17 AM EST

On the topic of security alerts and patches, Microsoft Corp. is undoubtedly the 800-pound gorilla. When the company publicized its strategy of issuing security alerts once a month, I was initially dismayed, but the wisdom of the decision sank in.

Much of the frustration expressed by IT managers around the world has a lot to do with the unpredictability of security alerts. They could come at any time, and we'd have to drop what we were doing and spring into action -- at least the action of analyzing and understanding how bad the latest salvo could be. What would go through my mind was, "Is this the alert that if left unpatched could lead to 'Son of Blaster'?"

Assimilating patch alerts under the old process was like responding to earthquakes. You could be prepared, to a point, but you never knew when it would strike or how bad it would be.

Now, the security alerts are more like hurricanes. We know they're out there and when they will make landfall (the second Tuesday of the month, all year long), but we still don't know exactly how bad they will be.

Still, Microsoft's releasing security alerts on the second Tuesday of the month presents a great opportunity: the ability to plan.

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