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Re: Getting Off the Patch
From: "Thor (Hammer of God)" <thor () hammerofgod com>
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 17:05:00 +0000

Cor Rosielle wrote:
I don't agree with the statement: "From a security standpoint,
patching is better than not patching.  Period.".

Sometimes patching is the right solution, often it is not. Since some
asked experiences from larger companies, here is one:

I never saw this post for some reason.   Cor, I think we should be careful about the propensity one has to engage in 
exaggeration creep to make points.
"'Sometimes' it is right, 'Often' it is not" is an example of this.  If your patching model has whatever problems you 
"often" have, then you should look at the model.  But defending your viewpoint by throwing in "blinding execute and 
install the patch" is a simple sleight of hand maneuver to respond to something no one ever said.

I should probably define my terms better, particularly in these types of discussions:  "From a security standpoint" 
refers to what corporate security is about: Risk Management.  The OP of this thread and some others seem to think 
security in this environment means "don't get hacked"  It doesn't.   It means "design and implement an infrastructure 
that meets compliance standards and supports business needs while implementing effective controls that mitigate risk 
while performing within budgetary restraints."   I could certainly have made that longer to accommodate hyperbolic 
responses, but I it's not worth the time to do that.  

The OP was about security patches.  Patches that address known security issues.  Patching these vulnerabilities is 
mitigates the risk more than not patching.  Further risk mitigation controls should always be in place, and that model 
has been around for years and years.  

I did not know about the OSSTMM in those days. If I did, I could have
explained why patching is not always the best solution: it interferes
with your operations. And if it influences you operations, you better control

What exactly do you think operations does?  I'll tell you want.  Let's everyone from full disclosure who works in 
operations go to their management and tell them that "patching interferes with my operations" and see what they say.  
This is clearly your stated point, and I think your operations should know about it.  *You* don't have to do that, 
since you are the CTO, but others do.

Relating to your Win2000 example:  If you knew the patch was out there, and that your company's decision not to patch 
was publicized, and you chose not to patch anyway, then you clearly had no threats associated with that install.   And 
if you could go three years without installing any patches, then clearly the system had no importance.  If it did, then 
you didn't do a good job of risk management.

Also, let's stay away from the George Burns examples - People always seem to defend smoking and indulgent eating with 
"George Burns smoked and ate sausage and lived to be 100!" This may be true.  But 500,000 people a year die from heart 
disease.   Let's keep it real, shall we?


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