ScriptLogic Launches Patch Software for Windows Servers
by Alex Woodie
ScriptLogic has introduced new software that helps to ensure Windows servers and desktops are running the latest patches from Microsoft. Called Patch Authority Plus, the offering combines its own centralized policy management software along with Shavlik's popular patch scanning tool and database of patches. The software provides a third-party alternative to Microsoft tools, such as Windows Software Update Services (WSUS).
Windows shops today must be more vigilant than ever about patching. Tests have shown out-of-the-box instances of Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 will become infected with viruses, worms, and Trojan Horses in a matter of minutes after being connected to the network. This disturbing reality led Microsoft to roll-out the Post-Setup Security Updates feature, which shields computers from the network until they can be patched, in the latest service packs for these operating systems.
While Microsoft offers free patch management tools, such as WSUS, as well as patch management products you can pay for (such as Systems Management Server 2003), not everybody wants to rely on Microsoft for these tools. Looking to Microsoft to be both the provider of eggs, and the guardian of the henhouse, it would seem, is not a good recipe for secure computing, at least in the cookbooks at some IT shops.
One of the companies offering third-party alternatives to Microsoft's patch management tools is ScriptLogic, a Boca Raton, Florida, developer of various Windows utilities. In mid May, the company unveiled Patch Authority Plus, a new Windows utility designed to centralize the management of services and tasks on desktops and servers.
Patch Authority Plus combines ScriptLogic's own centralized management component, called Service Explorer technology, along with an OEM'ed version of the patch scanning and deployment engine from Shavlik, which is called HFNetChk. Shavlik's software is well-respected in the industry, as it is also used in Microsoft's SMS 2003 and in the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA).
ScriptLogic's Services Explorer technology surrounds the rich patch discovery and deployment tool from Shavlik with centralized management and reporting capabilities. A Windows server administrator can patch Windows operating systems and applications interactively, or set up a schedule to automate the process. The administrator can create groups to ease the task of rolling out updates in larger deployments, and create templates of patch deployment that can be replicated or modified. The software supports Windows NT, XP, 2000, Windows Server 2003, Exchange, SQL Server, Outlook, and Microsoft Office applications.
The release of Patch Authority Plus last month follows the April release of another ScriptLogic patch management tool: the new Patch Deployment for Desktops option for ScriptLogic's Desktop Authority desktop management platform. The company says this new feature gives IT managers the capability to automatically deploy patches on desktop machines when users logon or logoff.
Deploying security patches from Microsoft is an excellent way to protect computers from Internet-based security attacks, according to ScriptLogic, which cites a Gartner report that says 90 percent of Internet-based security attacks in 2005 will result from exploits for which patches have already been issued.
ScriptLogic also points to another Gartner statistic that says it will take an IT manager an average of two hours to test and deploy a single patch for each server. With an expected 50 to 60 security patches expected from Microsoft every year (there have already been 24, with the next round due out Tuesday, June 14), these costs can quickly add up at companies using a large number of Windows desktops and servers.
Patch Authority Plus is available now. Pricing begins at $16 per seat for a 10 user license. For more information, visit www.scriptlogic.com.