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Implementing third-party patches on customer systems

Is it safe to implement a third-party patch on a customer's Windows system for a critical vulnerability that Microsoft is slow to patch?

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Yes, it is feasible to implement a third-party patch on a Windows system. However, several important steps should be followed to ensure the patch does not have an ill effect on the system. These steps include, at a minimum:

  • Obtain the patch through a secure manner (for example, SHA-1).
  • Complete the appropriate testing before proceeding to implement the patch.
  • Have a well-defined and documented back-out plan in the event the patch does not install correctly or causes issues with the systems or applications.
  • Provide proper communication to all those involved with the systems being patched, both the end users and administrators.
  • Install the patch on less critical systems first, to ensure no issues, then install on more critical sytems.

If these steps are followed, at a minimum, then the risk of installing a third-party patch is mitigated.

This was first published in October 2006

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