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Virtual Patching (Vulnerability Shielding)

Virtual Patching (Vulnerability Shielding)

When a vulnerability is revealed, reported, or discovered, companies are in a race against time. It's a golden chance for cybercriminals and threat actors. A typical firm, for example, is said to take 69 days to fix a critical vulnerability in its application. Businesses in the United Kingdom took an average of 60 days to realize they had been breached.

Nearly 60% of data breaches caused by exploiting a software vulnerability that was known, but which the victim organization had not yet patched, but what makes what makes patching difficult for businesses?

  • Continuity of operations While applying updates regularly cause an operational disruption.
  • The number of vulnerabilities that must be patched. 
  • Visibility is limitedMore extensive internet infrastructures necessitate more complicated update procedures.
  • Patch cycle frequencyThis can make patching challenging to control adequately, especially when determining which vulnerabilities are the most significant or urgent.
  • Systems that are no longer patchablePatches may no longer be delivered to systems.
/ What is Virtual Patching?

Virtual patching is sending a rule (or a bunch of rules) that will mitigate a specific vulnerability in software without changing the vulnerable code itself. Virtual patching — or vulnerability shielding — acts as a safety measure against threats that exploit known and unknown vulnerabilities. Virtual patching works by implementing layers of security policies and rules that prevent and intercept an exploit from taking network paths to and from a vulnerability.

A good virtual patching solution should be multilayered. This includes capabilities that inspect and block malicious activity from business-critical traffic; detect and prevent intrusions; thwart attacks on web-facing applications; and adaptably deploy on physical, virtual, or cloud environments.

Here’s how virtual patching augments an organization’s existing security technologies as well as vulnerability and patch management policies:

  • Buys additional time. Virtual patching gives security teams the time needed to assess the vulnerability and test and apply the necessary and permanent patches. For in-house applications, virtual patching provides time for developers and programmers to fix flaws in their code.
  • Avoids unnecessary downtime. Virtual patching provides enterprises more freedom to enforce their patch management policies on their own schedule. This mitigates the potential revenue loss caused by unplanned or superfluous disruptions in business operations.
  • Improves regulatory compliance. Virtual patching helps organizations meet timeliness requirements.


  • Provides an additional layer of security. Virtual patching provides security controls to components in the IT infrastructures for which patches are no longer issued (e.g., legacy systems and end-of-support OSs like Windows Server 2008) or are prohibitively costly to patch.
  • Provides flexibility. Virtual patching reduces the need to roll out workarounds or emergency patches. It eases the task, for instance, of gauging specific points in the network that require patching (or if a patch needs to be applied to all systems).

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