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Linux is widely recognized for the impressive level of security and stability it offers admins and organizations, but this doesn’t mean that the popular open-source operating system is immune to malware, viruses and other security threats. In fact, the growing popularity of Linux in recent years has put a target on its back, as attackers now view the OS as a viable target due to its rapidly growing user base and the high-value servers and devices it powers worldwide. The number of new Linux malware variants reached a record high in the first half of 2022, as nearly 1.7 million samples were discovered.

Threat actors frequently exploit unpatched security vulnerabilities in software and applications to gain access to corporate networks, enable malicious code, and compromise critical systems. Thus, having a reliable vulnerability and patch management strategy in place is crucial in identifying and remediating security issues before they are exploited by adversaries in damaging malware attacks. Despite the critical importance of effective patch management, too many organizations still fall short in this key area due to challenges including a shortage of time and resources, the vast number of vulnerabilities that exist across thousands of heterogeneous assets in a distributed network, and difficulty in prioritizing these issues according to the level of risk that they pose. In this article, we introduce an automated patch management solution that can help your organization overcome these obstacles and defend against Linux malware and other malicious threats with complete visibility and control over your patch management and compliance.  

Linux Malware: A Serious & Growing Threat for Businesses

The evolution of malware research has provided superior visibility into attacks threatening Linux servers. Just like any other software, unpatched vulnerabilities in Linux can be exploited by malware operators to gain unauthorized access to a system. A vulnerable server is an open door for data and credential theft, DDoS attacks, cryptocurrency mining and web traffic redirection, and can be used to host malicious command and control (C&C) servers. Anandraj Paul, Head of Development for Endpoint Security at  ManageEngine, elaborates, “Unpatched vulnerabilities can also be leveraged to install backdoors or create botnets which can be used to launch further attacks or steal resources from the infected Linux system. These flaws are often targeted by automated attacks that spread rapidly and infect many systems within a short period of time.”

In recent years, the threat of malware on Linux has become more sophisticated, with attackers leveraging advanced techniques such as fileless malware, weaponized documents, code injection and the exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities to compromise systems. Linux malLinux Malwareware now increasingly targets financial data, with the rise of cryptocurrency mining malware, ransomware, and banking trojans via Linux servers and desktops. Linux malware has also expanded beyond traditional desktops and servers to target IoT devices such as routers, cameras, and smart appliances, which are often vulnerable to attacks due to weak security practices and unpatched vulnerabilities. 

This trend has magnified the importance of having the right technology and systems in place to detect and remediate security vulnerabilities that these advanced malware  attacks exploit. With the rapid evolution seen in recent years, Linux malware is now harder to detect and mitigate. Using advanced techniques such as polymorphism, rootkits, and encryption, modern malware can evade detection by traditional antivirus solutions. Rangaraj Santhanam, Head of Linux Development for Endpoint Security at ManageEngine, adds, “Threat actors are also increasingly using Linux malware to specifically target organizations, industries, and even individuals. These targeted attacks can be more difficult to detect because they are customized to evade security measures that the target may have in place.” The implementation of Linux in business-critical systems and on the cloud has also increased the attack surface for Linux malware. Linux security experts and LinuxSecurity.com Founder Dave Wreski warns, “It is critical that organizations are able to find and fix unpatched security bugs before cybercriminals have the opportunity to exploit them to infect devices and systems with harmful malware that can lead to downtime and compromise. Implementing an automated patch management and compliance solution is an efficient and effective way to ensure that security bugs aren’t left unaddressed.”

Comprehensive, Automated Protection Against Unpatched Security Vulnerabilities Leaving Businesses Susceptible to Attack

ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus is a comprehensive patching solution for Linux, Windows and macOS that offers automated patch deployment for endpoints. It's available both on-premises and on the cloud. With Patch Manager Plus deployed, businesses can scan endpoints to detect missing patches, test patches before deployment, automate and customize patch deployment and make use of pre-built, tested, ready-to-deploy packages, and gain better visibility and control by conducting powerful audits and accessing comprehensive reports.

ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus specifically addresses the growing threat of Linux malware by:

  • Patching known vulnerabilities: With ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus, admins can identify and patch unpatched vulnerabilities in real time before attackers can exploit them.
  • Automating patch management: Admins can automate the entire patch management process from detecting, testing, approving, and deploying patches to ensure that vulnerabilities are consistently patched across all Linux systems. This helps in reducing the risk of vulnerabilities being exploited due to missed or delayed patches and negates the possibility of any manual error.
  • Integration with vulnerability scanners: Patch Manager Plus allows rapid mitigation of vulnerabilities by integrating with vulnerability scanners. Once integrated, patches can be seamlessly deployed for the vulnerabilities identified, all from a single console.
  • Patching for OS and third-party applications: Patch Manager Plus offers patching support for eight different Linux flavors including Red Hat, SUSE, and Ubuntu - primarily used by enterprises. In addition, they also support other distros such as Debian, CentOS, Pardus, Oracle Linux, and Rocky Linux.
  • Improving compliance: Admins can leverage Patch Manager Plus' in-depth reporting capabilities to meet regulatory requirements for patching and maintaining system security in their network.

Patch ManageengineKey benefits of securing your organization against unpatched vulnerabilities with Patch Manager Plus include:

  • Blazing speed: Automate patch management to get more endpoints patched in less time.
  • Flexibility: Gain the ability to customize deployment policies to meet your enterprise's patching needs.
  • Reliability: Secure networks by applying timely patches to OS and applications.
  • Compliance: Ahieve 100% patch compliance status across all systems.
  • Visibility: Use powerful audits and reporting to better analyze and fix vulnerabilities faster.

The reporting capabilities of Patch Manager Plus include: 

  • System Health Reports: Patch Manager Plus classifies the systems in the network based on their vulnerability - Highly vulnerable, Healthy, and Health Not Available. Leveraging this report, admins can have a holistic view of the health status of their systems during audits. 
  • System Compliance Graph: Admins can get an overview of the systems that are compliant as well as non-compliant in the network.
  • Missing Patches by Severity: Right from the console, admins can access an overview of the patches missing in the network, based on their severity - Critical, Important, Moderate, Low, and Unrated. This ensures timely remediation and prioritization of vulnerabilities based on their severity.

For these reasons, ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus meets all of the LinuxSecurity team’s criteria for an effective and efficient patch management solution that organizations can deploy to protect against malware and other security threats that exploit unpatched vulnerabilities.

Final Thoughts on Patch Manager Plus’ Linux Malware Protection

Linux malware is a serious and growing threat, but can be prevented with responsible administration and the implementation of a comprehensive patch management and compliance solution like ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus. Wreski concludes “The majority of malware attacks on Linux systems can be attributed to misconfigured servers and unpatched vulnerabilities. Having a patch management solution in place that you can count on to fix security bugs before they are exploited in damaging cyberattacks is of critical importance in protecting against Linux malware and improving your organization's overall security posture.”

Sign up for a free 30-day trial of ManageEngine Patch Manager Plus and improve your patch management and compliance strategy to defend an unlimited number of endpoints against Linux malware and other dangerous, pervasive cyber threats.