Patch management tools are cybersecurity solutions that identify software applications running on outdated versions. They then proceed to deploy and install the corresponding patch, which can enhance security, fix bugs or add new functionalities, depending on the intent behind its release.
This is a necessary process on all operating systems, be it Windows, Linux, macOS, or any other OS.
In this article, I will go over the importance of patch management tools, then move on to present eight free and/or open-source alternatives that your company needs. As always, stay tuned until the end for even more ways to up your company’s vulnerability management game.
Why are Patch Management Tools Important?
Patch management tools are important because they close critical gaps in security that your company may face as we speak. Edgescan’s 2022 Vulnerability Statistics Report uncovered several interesting facts regarding this:
- Across all the full stack, 20.4% of all discovered vulnerabilities were either High or Critical risk weaknesses;
- Out of all vulnerabilities found on the full stack, 86.3% resulted in PCI failures;
- SQL Injections were the most common critical risk vulnerabilities (web applications) with 33% of discovered vulnerabilities;
- The average mean time to remediate vulnerabilities was 57.5 days.
These are just a few of the concerning statistics presented by the report. If you’re still not concerned about your enterprise security at this point and don’t understand why patch management tools are essential, I recommend that you read the whole thing.
8 Best Open Source Patch Management Tools
Now that we’ve emphasized the why, it’s time to get to the true star of this article – the solutions. To help you get started on your way towards true vulnerability management, I’ve presented eight of the best free and/or open source patch management tools. These will give you a sense of what your enterprise needs and who out there can offer it.
#1 PDQ Deploy
PDQ Deploy is a patch management tool for Windows devices that can update third-party applications, and deploy custom scripts. The solution comes with a package library of over 200 popular applications ready-to-deploy.
- Automatic download and scheduling of software updates via the PDQ Deploy package library.
- The ability to deploy multiple applications with one click with the nested package feature.
- Patch prioritization and customized scheduling allow you to build your strategy.
- Inventory scan option that reveals the most recent updates made available by developers.
- Failed patch queue feature in case of network downtime that automatically resumes updates when the connection is re-established.
ITarian is a free Windows open-source patch management tool that can fulfill three major vulnerability management functions for your company. It can help your sysadmins manage patches and eradicate security flaws and fix bugs in the software you use daily.
- Quick vulnerability and system breach detection for your endpoints.
- Efficient patch reports that are accessible to users in one convenient dashboard.
- Patch prioritization and customized scheduling allow you to build your strategy.
- Instant notifications upon patch implementation failure.
- Remote deployment of operating system updates for both Windows and Linux.
- Policy creation for update scheduling according to the work hours and priorities of your employees.
- A dedicated update monitoring team that identifies what the critical patches for your software system are.
Action1 is a cloud-native patch management tool for work-from-anywhere workspaces. It scans your workstations in real-time, detecting weak spots and gaps in security in the company’s IT infrastructure. This makes it an efficient alternative against data leaks and other types of cyber threats. The solution automates patching of VPN-free systems and third-party software.
While it is marketed as more of a one-stop-shop endpoint security tool, Action1’s vulnerability management module does a decent job at keeping your software up to date. This is made possible by its inbuilt cloud-directed patch deployment feature.
- Complete visibility into your digital assets that includes vulnerability scanning.
- Both automatic and remote system boot options upon patch installation or system update.
- The option to force-install updates in case of an emergency.
- An integrated digital asset tracking function that allows you to see what software needs to be updated.
- Advanced reporting regarding your network’s weak spots, as well as which updates are required and which have failed in the past.
Pulseway is a hybrid between a free patch management tool and a DNS security solution at its most basic tier. It is compatible with a variety of operating systems, namely Windows, Red Hat Linux, Debian, Raspbian, and macOS, as well as iOS, and Android for mobile devices.
The package is well-suited for small organizations with just a few endpoints. To upgrade its capabilities and extend the protection to more workstations, you will need to pay for the upgraded solution.
Pulseway covers both Microsoft Windows updates, as well as 3rd party patches. It has several other features that make it one of the most scalable options on this list, especially if you are willing to go for the paid package.
- Remote patch and update deployment that is synchronized with your mobile device.
- Active directory feature that allows you to easily add or remove devices from your network.
- Online collaboration function that allows for full integration with other workstations.
- Network discovery capabilities that show you all the devices that are connected to the network, as well as what versions your software is running at and which apps need updating.
- Additional DNS filtering fortifies your enterprise security and protects your endpoints.
#5 Kaseya VSA
Kaseya VSA is an integrated IT systems management platform that can perform features such as alerting, discovering, automation, and patch management. Through the platform, IT admins can deploy, update and patch machines running Windows, macOS, and Linux OS. It can apply patches from over 100 third-party applications vendors as well, including Adobe, Opera, and many others. VSA capabilities include RMM, network monitoring, process automation, and others.
- Agent-executed scripts for patching operations and other processes.
- Fully automated and configurable patch management.
- Automated and on-demand scanning and analysis.
#6 ManageEngine Endpoint Central
ManageEngine Endpoint Central (formerly known as Desktop Central) is a Windows open-source patch management tool that also handles vulnerability management. It allows you to deploy updates on the fly, configure firewall & wireless devices, remote-wipe company data, and control USB policies. The ability to conduct pre-testing on patches and updates before deploying them in bulk is a unique selling point for Endpoint Central. A very robust software update management system.
- Advanced reporting features. The solution periodically generates patching reports. Very helpful for that monthly vulnerability assessment meeting (if you have one, of course).
- Supports both Windows updates/patches and third-party.
- Can help you get rid of unwanted data.
- Thumb drive device management. Endpoint Central can help you secure unsigned thumb drives and enforce removable media policies
Atera is a cloud-base remote monitoring and management platform that enables IT professionals to gain access, visibility, and control over their networks and devices from anywhere. Atera is an all-in-one solution that provides services such as IT automations, reporting, ticketing, real-time alerts, network discovery, and patch management. Atera can be tested for 30 days completely free, without asking for a credit card.
Operating systems, programs, and device drivers can all be patched by Atera. Common third-party programs including Chrome, Zoom, Java, Dropbox, Microsoft Word, and Adobe applications are supported.
- Remote monitoring and management anytime, from anywhere, using a single dashboard.
- Remote access possibilities.
- Automated patch management for Windows, Mac, Linux, and other OS.
- Open AI integration for seamless script creation and execution.
- Monitoring for an unlimited number of devices.
#8 GFI LanGuard
GFI LanGuard is an endpoint protection software which enable administrators to assess vulnerabilities and patch software on softwares, and virtual machines. It allows administrators to scan networks automatically, or perform scans on demand. They can also distribute the processing load by deploying agents to specific computers that do the patching activities or patches from a central interface. Administrators can also scan the networks for missing patches as well as other vulnerabilities.
LanGuard supports Windows, macOS, Linux OS, as well as third-party applications from over 60 vendors such as Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, and Google.
- On-demand and automatic network scanning.
- Deployment and installation of Microsoft Windows and third-party updates or patches.
- MDM features. Can help you set up Android and iOS devices. On top of that, GFI LanGuard can aid you in discovering vulnerabilities endemic to mobile devices.
- UX-oriented design. The web-based dashboard simplifies logging and reporting. It also offers granular control over what goes on in your endpoints.
- Identify and auto-downloads missing patches and updates. All updates are downloaded over an SSL connection.
- Fully compatible with all vulnerability assessment standards includes SANS Top 20 and OVAL.
Take Patch Management to the Next Level
Free or open source patch management tools can only take you so far. They are a great starting point for a small business with a dozen endpoints or so, but you won’t get any complex defensive layers out of them. Therefore, if you want to take your vulnerability management strategy to the next level, you will need a more robust solution such as our very own Heimdal® Patch & Asset Management.
Automate your patch management routine.
Heimdal® Patch & Asset Management Software
Remotely and automatically install Windows, Linux and 3rd party application updates and manage your software inventory.
- Schedule updates at your convenience;
- See any software assets in inventory;
- Global deployment and LAN P2P;
- And much more than we can fit in here…
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Heimdal®’s Patch & Asset Management is a fully automatic, and customizable solution, which you can access and command from anywhere in the world, at any time. It gathers the most sought-after features of a patch management tool, allowing you to:
- Keep a detailed inventory of your digital assets and software.
- Have complete visibility into your network and spot outdated applications immediately.
- Know which programs need to be patched almost instinctively.
- Create detailed reports that show you everything you need to know about your software assets.
- Achieve full compliance with international cybersecurity standards.
- Deploy Windows, 3rd party, and custom software packages both remotely and on-site.
- Upgrade or downgrade software versions with one click.
- Put automated workflows that minimize disruptions in place.
- Allow users to install the updates themselves instead of wasting time.
- And schedule updates according to relevant work hours and time zones.
Going for a free or open source patch management tool is a great way to start your business on the way towards advanced cybersecurity. However, it might not be enough to keep high-risk vulnerabilities in check. Implementing advanced update and asset tracking features comes at an additional cost.
Upgrading your enterprise with a paid package means that you will have access to state-of-the-art capabilities in one place. This is key for scalability, as having to pick and choose from various tools that have different functionalities can become difficult from an integration point of view. Paid solutions such as our Heimdal®’s Patch & Asset Management are the answer to this issue.
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