Browse Definitions :
Definition

virtual patching

Virtual patching is the quick development and short-term implementation of a security policy meant to prevent an exploit from occurring as a result of a newly discovered vulnerability. A virtual patch is sometimes called a Web application firewall (WAF).

A patch is a quick repair job for a piece of programming. Typically, a patch is developed and distributed as a replacement for, or insertion in, compiled code. An application firewall is an enhanced firewall that limits access to a computer's OS (operating system) by specific application programs.

A virtual patch analyzes transactions using the security enforcement layer to prevent malicious traffic from reaching the vulnerable application. The virtual patch, if effective, prevents the exploit from taking place without modifying the application's source code. This approach offers several advantages over conventional patching:

  • A virtual patch protects mission-critical components that must remain online, so operations are not interrupted as they often are with a conventional patch in an emergency situation.
  • A virtual patch mitigates the risk of an exploit quickly, until an effective, permanent patch can be tested and released by the application vendor.
  • A virtual patch lets an organization maintain its normal patching cycle without interrupting operations if a vulnerability arises midway between scheduled patch releases.
  • A virtual patch only needs to be installed in a few locations, rather than on all of the hosts in a network.
  • Because the libraries and support code are not modified, a virtual patch is unlikely to produce conflicts in the system.

Disadvantages or risks of virtual patching include:

  • It might not address all possible ways, or all of the possible locations, in which an exploit can occur as a result of a particular vulnerability.
  • Once a virtual patch has been implemented and has proven effective, an organization might feel reduced motivation to produce a permanent patch.
  • While a virtual patch can avert an immediate crisis, it is not likely to offer as much benefit in the long term as a permanent patch would, because the virtual patch cannot eliminate inherent defects in an application program.

 

This was last updated in April 2013

Continue Reading About virtual patching

SearchCompliance

  • information governance

    Information governance is a holistic approach to managing corporate information by implementing processes, roles, controls and ...

  • enterprise document management (EDM)

    Enterprise document management (EDM) is a strategy for overseeing an organization's paper and electronic documents so they can be...

  • risk assessment

    Risk assessment is the identification of hazards that could negatively impact an organization's ability to conduct business.

SearchSecurity

  • cyber espionage

    Cyber espionage, also called cyber spying, is a form of cyber attack that is carried out against a competitive company or ...

  • virus (computer virus)

    A computer virus is malicious code that replicates by copying itself to another program, computer boot sector or document and ...

  • spam trap

    A spam trap is an email address that is used to identify and monitor spam email.

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • risk mitigation

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a business.

  • call tree

    A call tree is a layered hierarchical communication model that is used to notify specific individuals of an event and coordinate ...

  • Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS)

    Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) is the replication and hosting of physical or virtual servers by a third party to provide ...

SearchStorage

  • dropout

    Dropout refers to data, or noise, that's intentionally dropped from a neural network to improve processing and time to results.

  • cloud storage

    Cloud storage is a service model in which data is transmitted and stored on remote storage systems, where it is maintained, ...

  • cloud testing

    Cloud testing is the process of using the cloud computing resources of a third-party service provider to test software ...

Close