Patching and antivirus tips every sys admin should know

Jenny Carpenter

When you started out in IT, did you really want to spend all your life applying patches to PCs and checking if the antivirus product installed is up to date and working properly? Let’s be honest, these tasks get a little repetitive and monotonous, but if you drop the ball with either of these jobs, your IT department (and you) could end up in hot water. Taking shortcuts on patching and antivirus should never be an option.

Automating and speeding up the process however, is the right thing to do – you just need a good patch management solution and a reliable antivirus product.

Here are a few additional tips to reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks:

Patching Tips:

  1. Use a patching tool with a centralized dashboard so that you can do as much patching as possible from your office or remotely without constantly walking between machines and coming in out of hours…cutting into your valuable free time.
  2. Apply patches as soon as you can to reduce the window of opportunity for an attack as much as possible.
  3. Test your patches before applying them network-wide. Create a test network and apply patches there first. If there’s a problem, it won’t hit your whole network.
  4. Vulnerabilities in third-party products like Java or Adobe, are just as dangerous as those in operating systems. You need to patch both.

Antivirus Tips:

  1. Use an antivirus product that doesn’t impact performance, so that users don’t feel tempted to disable it.
  2. Use a product with centralized management that informs you when someone tries to tamper with the AV agent / product, or reinstalls it automatically if removed.
  3. Use AV protection on email gateways as well, using multiple antivirus engines.
  4. Never try to install multiple file scanning engines on servers and PCs. Good antivirus products check for the presence of installed AV products and assist with their removal.
  5. Select an antivirus product that hosts the lion’s share of definition updates in the cloud, so that constant update downloads don’t slow down the network, and the PCs themselves.

Major projects will sometimes require you to work the extraordinary but mundane tasks shouldn’t take up your free time. With the right products and proper planning, a lot can be automated improving overall productivity and fewer chances of human errors occurring. You also get to focus on what’s really important and interesting!