I have never really understood Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday from a security perspective. Sure from an IT management perspective it makes a lot of sense. The ability to actually plan for events and effectively allocate resources in IT is a rare commodity. So much of IT management is reacting instead of planning that Patch Tuesday almost becomes a calming ritual performed once a month that can be rather comforting. Download, Test, Apply, eat your donut, repeat next month. From a security perspective though it makes absolutely no freaking sense.
So what happens when a hole is discovered on the Wednesday after Patch Tuesday? Thats right, nothing happens until the next patch Tuesday. Well, at least you hope nothing happens. You hope the bad guys haven’t already found and are actively exploiting the hole.
Some companies like Apple, Sun, HP, OpenBSD, etc., do not patch on a schedule, instead they patch when needed. From a security point of view this is preferred as it greatly minimizes the time you are at risk. Unfortunately this can also lead to the situation where you are rolling out patches for five of the last ten days, like Apple did earlier this month. Patching every other day from an IT perspective is bad, it means your fighting fires, it means you can’t plan, or allocate resources. It means you actually have to do your job and manage your IT! It means no honey dipped for you! Oh no, the horrors!
The reporters over at ComputerWorld evidently felt like it was a good time bring up this ancient argument again and found a couple of clueless Windows Admins who claim to be “Security Researchers” who wanted to bitch about how they actually have to do work and manage Apple’s patches. Waaaaah. It must be Apple who is not ready for the Enterprise. Since Apple is the one making them do work and apply patches on a Thursday it must be Apple who is wrong. Sun, and HP and OpenBSD, and everyone who patches when needed, according to these “security researchers”, must be wrong.
Most people in the security industry understand the double edge sword of patching on a schedule and making the enterprise IT drones happy versus patching when needed and making the (real) security guys happy. There really is no right or wrong answer, it depends on which side of the fence you stand and what is more important, being secure or having time on Wednesday to eat your honey dipped donut.