Emergency patches cost companies almost $100,000 every month

Issuing emergency patches for newly-discovered security threats is costing businesses almost $100,000 per month and taking up more than 60 man-hours, new research has revealed.

According to an independent survey of 500 CISOs from companies in the UK, US and Germany with more than 1,000 employees, crisis patch management the practise of scrambling to apply fixes for vulnerabilities such as the SMB flaw behind last month's WannaCry ransomware attack is causing businesses a major headache.

The survey, which was commissioned by security firm Bromium, found that on average, businesses were having to issue a whopping five emergency patches every month. That equates to more than one a week and with each patch taking an average of more than 12 man-hours to apply, it's easy to see why more than half of CISOs say that issuing them is a 'major disruption' for their teams.

More importantly, these last-minute patch jobs are putting a huge hole in companies' bottom line. Over 50% of businesses have had to either pay overtime to IT staff or bring a third-party response unit to deal with emergency patches and security issues. According to the study, this costs companies almost $20,000 per patch.

"We can see with the recent WannaCry outbreak where an emergency patch was issued to stop the spread of the worm that enterprises are still having to paper over the cracks in order to secure their systems," said Simon Crosby, Bromium's co-founder and CTO.

"The fact that these patches have to be issued right away can be hugely disruptive to security teams, and often very costly to businesses, but not doing so can have dire consequences. WannaCry certainly isn't an isolated case and as ransomware and polymorphic malware become increasingly sophisticated and difficult to defend against, we are going to see many more emergency patches become a crisis although, sadly, they will often be too late."

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.