The patch management policy template below serves as a blueprint that you can tailor to fit your company’s unique needs and requirements. It provides a structured approach to patch management and simplifies the process to ensure the timeliness and security of your systems.
For more information, read our complete guide to creating a patch management policy.
(Company Name) recognizes the importance of effective patch management in maintaining the security of the network and the information technology infrastructure. Our Patch Management Policy establishes a framework for systematically identifying, testing, and deploying software and system updates. It underscores our commitment to a structured approach to patch management, ensuring the integrity and reliability of our IT environment.
*[The overview section must succinctly describe the policy’s goals and the extent of its coverage. It serves as an introduction to help stakeholders understand the importance of patch management and its role in maintaining security and system integrity within the organization.]*
(Company Name) has established the patch management policy to achieve the following objectives:
- Mitigate security risks: Address vulnerabilities and reduce the risk of security breaches, data loss, and unauthorized access.
- Ensure system stability: Minimize operational disruptions and system failures.
- Maintain compliance and accountability: Emphasize our commitment to responsible IT management and compliance with relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards.
- Enhance user trust: Foster trust among users, clients, and partners who rely on the security and reliability of our systems.
The scope of this policy pertains to the following IT resources directly related to patch management:
- Hardware assets: All hardware resources involved in the organization’s IT infrastructure and operations, including servers, workstations, and network equipment.
- Software assets: All software applications and systems, including operating systems, software applications, and software licenses.
- User accounts and access: User accounts and access permissions associated with IT resources.
- Licensing and compliance: Software licenses, compliance documentation related to patching, and software usage records that impact patch management activities.
This policy applies to the following key stakeholders and groups:
- All employees: Who interact with or have access to our IT infrastructure.
- IT department: Responsible for executing the patch management procedures, such as identification, testing, deployment, and documentation.
- Third-party vendors: Expected to provide patches and updates for their software or services used within the organization promptly.
- Contractors: Who work within the organization’s IT environment.
Patch Management Policy Details
a. Roles and Responsibilities
(Company Name)’s IT department is responsible for:
- Identifying, testing, and deploying patches in a timely manner.
- Documenting patch management activities.
- Maintaining a rollback plan for unforeseen issues during patch deployment.
- Ensuring compliance with this policy and relevant regulations.
End users must:
- Report vulnerabilities and issues promptly to the IT department.
- Adhere to security best practices and user awareness guidelines provided by the IT department.
Third-party vendors should:
- Promptly provide patches and updates for their software used within the organization, in accordance with service-level agreements (SLAs) or contractual agreements.
b. Patch Identification
(Company Name) places critical importance on the effective identification of patches to ensure staying informed about vulnerabilities and available fixes. The following responsibilities pertain to patch identification:
- Regular scanning using automated tools to detect missing patches.
- Promptly receiving and assessing vendor notifications for relevant patches.
- Monitoring common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE) databases for potential threats.
c. Patching Priority
Responsibilities related to patching priority include:
- Risk Assessment: The IT Department systematically prioritizes patches based on the severity of vulnerabilities and their potential impact on the organization.
- Critical Systems: Critical systems and applications within our organization will receive top priority for patching.
d. Patch Testing
Patches will be tested in a controlled environment before deployment to minimize the risk of unforeseen issues. During patch testing:
- Test environment: The network administrators will set up and maintain a controlled test environment to rigorously evaluate patches for their impact on system functionality and stability before deployment in the production environment.
- Feedback: The IT team will actively gather feedback from users to identify any compatibility issues.
e. Patch Deployment
The following guidelines should be followed during patch deployment:
- Maintenance windows: Network administrators plan regular maintenance windows for patch deployment to minimize operational disruptions.
- Automation: If applicable, the IT team may employ patch management software solutions with automated tools for patch deployment.
- Change management: (Company Name) follows the change management process for patch deployment. The change management team oversees the planning and execution of patch-related changes to ensure that they are well-coordinated and meet business needs.
f. Patch Documentation
Careful patch documentation will be kept to aid in tracking and auditing patching activities. This will facilitate our regulatory compliance and accountability. The process encompasses:
- Record keeping: Our system administrators are responsible for maintaining detailed records of all patches applied. This includes recording the date of application, patch version, and the specific systems affected.
- Documentation repository: The IT Department ensures that patch documentation is stored in a centralized repository for auditing and tracking. This repository is accessible to authorized personnel and promotes transparency.
g. Emergency Patching
To ensure swift response to high-risk vulnerabilities, the following should be followed during emergency patching:
- Emergency procedures: The IT Department will define and implement emergency procedures to expedite the patching process, reducing the potential impact of vulnerabilities.
- Emergency notifications: Relevant stakeholders will be promptly notified.
h. Rollback Plan
To prepare for potential complications to maintain system stability, we will build a rollback plan, which includes:
- Contingency plan: The IT Department will develop a plan that outlines the steps to be taken in case of issues following patch deployment.
- Backups: Ensuring the availability of data and system backups is a responsibility shared across our system administrators. These are vital for data recovery and system restoration in the event of patch-related failures.
i. User Awareness
User training and communication about patching processes will be conducted to create a security-conscious organizational culture. End users will also play a key role in reporting vulnerabilities and maintaining security awareness. We will follow these guidelines in improving user awareness:
- Training: The Training Department, in collaboration with the IT Department, conducts user training to educate employees on the significance of reporting vulnerabilities promptly and fostering their understanding of the patching process.
- User notifications: Our communication team will inform all users about scheduled patch deployments and any necessary actions they should take.
Compliance and Reporting
(Company name) will perform ongoing assessment of policy adherence to demonstrate compliance with industry standards. We will also encourage the reporting of security incidents for early detection and prompt mitigation. Responsibilities related to compliance and reporting include:
- Regular auditing: The Compliance Team performs regular audits to ensure compliance with the patch management policy.
- Incident reporting: Our Incident Response Team will establish a process for reporting security incidents related to patch management to enable prompt identification and resolution.
- Compliance reports: The IT Department will generate and review compliance reports on patch status and vulnerability mitigation to measure effectiveness and identify areas for improvement.
Patch Management Policy Maintenance
Policy Review and Revision
(Company Name) will follow these processes to make sure the Patch Management Policy remains effective and up-to-date:
- Annual review: We will conduct an annual review of the Patch Management Policy. This review will assess the policy’s relevance, alignment with best practices, and success in addressing emerging threats.
- Feedback mechanism: We will administer the collection and assessment of feedback to identify areas for improvement.
- Policy updates: Any identified deficiencies or areas requiring improvement will result in updates to the Patch Management Policy. Our IT team will document these updates and communicate to all relevant stakeholders.
The IT Department, in collaboration with Human Resources and Legal, will oversee policy enforcement. Non-compliance with the Patch Management Policy may result in disciplinary actions, as outlined in the policy.
(Company Name) understands that exceptions to this policy may be necessary under certain circumstances. Exceptions may be granted under the following conditions:
- In cases where immediate patch deployment may disrupt critical business operations, exceptions may be considered. The IT department must give their approval for exceptions.
- In instances where legacy systems or software that are no longer supported by vendors require specific patches, and applying them would cause system instability.
- When compliance with this policy conflicts with regulatory requirements or standards. For these cases, users must formally request exceptions, which the IT team must approve after evaluation.
- For third-party software or services when (Company Name) has limited control over patch deployment. Justification and documentation should accompany these exceptions. The IT team is responsible for approving exceptions.
Violations and Penalties
Non-compliance can have serious consequences, as it may expose the organization to security risks and operational disruptions. Violations of this policy may result in the following penalties:
- Employee violations: Any employee found to be in violation of this policy may be subject to disciplinary action, which can include verbal or written warnings, suspension, or termination of employment, as deemed appropriate by the Human Resources department and in accordance with the organization’s HR policies.
- Contractors and third-party vendors: Non-compliance by contractors or third-party vendors may lead to contract termination, financial penalties, or legal action as stipulated in contractual agreements.
- Legal implications: Non-compliance that results in security breaches or data loss may lead to legal action against the responsible party or parties.
- Financial penalties: Violations that result in financial losses to the organization may lead to financial penalties, restitution, or damages sought through legal means.
(Company Name) reserves the right to take appropriate action in response to policy violations, with penalties commensurate with the severity and impact of the violation.
Acknowledgment of Patch Management Policy
This form is used to acknowledge receipt of and compliance with the organization’s Patch Management Policy.
Complete the following steps:
- Read the Patch Management Policy.
- Sign and date in the spaces provided.
- Submit the signed form to [Specify the appropriate department or contact] for record-keeping.
Your signature attests that you agree to the following terms:
I. I have received and read a copy of the Patch Management Policy and understand and agree to the same.
II. I understand the organization’s commitment to maintaining a secure and stable IT environment through this policy.
III. I will comply with the policy’s provisions and take responsibility for reporting vulnerabilities and adhering to security best practices.
IV. I acknowledge that non-compliance with the Patch Management Policy may result in disciplinary actions, as outlined in the policy.
This patch management policy serves as a resource and is not a replacement for legal counsel. If you have legal inquiries pertaining to this policy, we recommend consulting with your legal department or attorney.
5 Examples of Real Patch Management Policies
The following real patch management policy examples can give an idea of how you can modify our template or create one of your own. Each of these has unique components worth considering in developing your patch management policy:
1. Liaison International Patch Management Policy and Procedure
Liaison International’s patch management policy emphasizes maintaining network systems and data integrity through timely security updates. Its standout feature is its comprehensive process and guidelines, which include proper application and management of security updates.
It has a responsibility assignment section that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of different teams within the organization, such as the IT Director, CFO, IT Security team, and QA/Dev Engineer. This ensures accountability and smooth execution of the policy. It also covers zero-day and emergency security patching.
2. University of Portland Patch Management Policy
The University of Portland Patch Management Policy covers all devices that the university owns and mandates the application of the latest security patches. It provides a schedule for patch application, which varies based on the severity and importance of the patches. The University requires testing of all patches before implementation, and any schedule deviations need documentation and approval.
The policy includes a procedure for deferring patches that cannot follow the schedule, where it requires a written explanation for the patch deferral. This confirms justification and documentation for all policy deviations.
Furthermore, this policy integrates with the change management policy, requiring an authorized system administrator to log a change ticket when there’s an announcement about a patch. This procedure effectively tracks and manages all changes.
3. Action1 Patch Management Policy
The Action1 Patch Management Policy centralizes the process of discovering, testing, and distributing patches from a cloud console. It secures prompt deployment of all updates, patches, and hotfixes to remote endpoints, regardless of their location or network connectivity.
Key features of this policy include automated patch deployment, patch approval, and reboot options. Administrators can set approval procedures, allowing automatic deployment of critical patches without manual approval. Additionally, they can configure mandatory reboots and user notifications for computers that will restart.
This patch management policy also has a version history, allowing admins to track all changes made to the policy.
4. Salisbury University Patch Management Policy
This Salisbury University Patch Management Policy aims to prevent the exploitation of known vulnerabilities within the university’s IT infrastructure. It applies to all IT assets that the university owns and manages. It delivers a clear strategy for implementing patch management processes within the Salisbury University Information Technology (SUIT) department.
The policy calls for the submission of vulnerability scanning results against critical systems for internal audit for review each quarter. This supports regular monitoring and allows for immediate identification and remediation of any issues.
Moreover, it outlines detailed requirements for security patches, including a methodology for discovering and tracking SUIT managed assets, active monitoring of security sources for vulnerability announcements, patch and non-patch remediation, and emerging threats that correspond to the software within SUIT systems.
5. University of Reading Patch Management Policy
The components of the University of Reading Patch Management Policy work together to protect and update the university’s IT systems, reducing exposure to vulnerabilities.
This patch management policy streamlines centrally-managed patching, allowing for better control and coordination of the patch management process. It also mandates users to reboot their devices when prompted to do so, reaffirming effective patch applications and updated systems.
Moreover, the policy dictates that patch installation should occur within specific timeframes, depending on their severity rating by the vendor. For example, the Digital Technology Services (DTS) should apply patches rated as “Critical” within 7 days of their release, and those rated as “High” within 14 days.