Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) defined Virtual patching as:

“Security policy enforcement layer which prevents the exploitation of a known vulnerability.”

Value of virtual patching

The virtual patch works once the security enforcement layer analyses transactions and intercepts attacks in transit, therefore the malicious traffic never gets to the web application. The impact of virtual patching is that without updating the source code, it prevents an exploit from occurring.

It is the quick development and short-term implementation of a security policy. As a result, the organization would get more time to spend to evaluate the risks associated with the vulnerability in their environment and develop a mitigation strategy.

Advantages of Virtual Patching

From an organizations perspective, the merits are:

  1. It reduces the cost of emergency patching.
  2. It gives protection for mission-critical components that might not be taken offline.
  3. It is a scalable solution as it needs to be installed in a few locations, rather than on all of the hosts in a network.
  4. Since the libraries and support code files are not altered, a virtual patch is less likely to produce conflicts in the system.
  5. It reduces risk until an effective patch is released by the application vendor or while a patch is being tested and applied.
  6. Even though a vulnerability occurs in between scheduled patch releases, virtual patching helps the organizations to maintain their normal patching cycles without affecting the operations

Using Various tools

Various tools are used to achieve Deep Security virtual patching. It includes:

  1. Web Application Firewall (WAF)
  2. Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
  3. Web server plugin
  4. Application layer filter 

 

The WAF provides the most sustainable solution for virtual patching. WAF works well in securing your websites and applications. It includes the following features:

  1. Robust HTTP and HTML Parsing
  2. Protocol Analysis
  3. Anti-Evasion Capabilities
  4. Rules instead of Signatures

Why do we need to apply Virtual Patching on the websites?

  1. It’s scalable as managed web application firewalls can deploy patches to a network of sites at the same time.
  2. It reduces the risk while the developer of a plugin/component releases the fix.
  3. Less risk for conflicts compared to when the code is manually patched.
  4. It provides protection to all sites almost immediately after discovery.
  5. Reduces time and money from remediation or from manual code patches.

Technologies like deep security virtual patching can aid this patching management process by shielding both known as well as unknown vulnerabilities. The patching delay means the enterprise is at risk of attacks, and the offenders might collect all the details they need to exploit, which involve the following issues:

    • Security measure compromise
    • Critical Data Exposure
    • Network and System Compromise
    • Reputational Loss
    • Financial Loss