Free Patch Management Tool For Small Businesses

By Patricia Fusco | Posted April 16, 2003
Wouldn't it be great if you could use free patch management security software on up to 50 computers forever? Many small businesses with fewer than 50 computers could use the product for free for a lifetime. It would be like a free trial that never ends.

Does this sound too good to be true?

Then you'll just have to check out HFNetChkLT from Shavlik Technologies for yourself. The St. Paul, Minn.-based software maker recently released a new version of HFNetChkLT — available for small businesses to download for free.

Based on the same type of full-featured, patch management solution that Shavlik Technologies has licensed to Microsoft, HFNetChkLT features a user-friendly graphical interface that makes patch management a breeze.


The product is a free version of the Shavlik's new HFNetChkPro 4.0 patch management software released in March. Like HFNetChkPro 4.0, HFNetChkLT offers automated scanning and deployment capabilities that give system administrators the ability to customize and prioritize their patch management regimen. The drag-and-drop interface allows administrators to simply select a range of computers to scan or deploy patches to, then drag that icon onto a scan template to immediately initiate a scan, or drag the icon onto a deploy template to complete the patch.

Eric Schultze, Director of Product Research and Development at Shavlik Technologies, believes HFNetChkLT is the most robust, free patch management solution available from the security industry to date.

"We use a five step process to determine what patches are missing, what's important to the security of the network, and what patches need to be deployed," Schultze said.

The first step in the process is the scan — HFNetChkLT allows system administrators to scan a single machine, an entire domain, or a group of workstations. Initial scans might recognize that as many as security 300 patches are missing. Schultze said this is where the Microsoft security rating comes in handy, which is the second step in the process.

"The security threat rating allows administrators to measure the threat levels and prioritize their patches accordingly," he said.

HFNetChkLT reduces research time for administrators through real-time access to patch criticality information from TruSecure and security threat ratings from Microsoft. New security patches are automatically sent to HFNetChkLT each time a user initiates a scan, so the patch management system is always updated.

The third step in the patch management process consists of dragging and dropping the patches into a template to be deployed. The fourth step is to complete a rescan and determine if the patches were successfully deployed. The fifth step is to generate a report concerning the overall health of the network or PC — at least in terms of patch management security.

Schultze said the major difference between HFNetChkLT and HFNetChkPro 4.0 is the reporting capabilities of the program. HFNetChkLT leans more toward minimal report generation, while HFNetChkPro creates more in depth reports.

As software products become more complicated and interconnected, patch management has become more daunting and time consuming than ever before. HFNetChkLT allows network administrators to discover the time saving benefits of effective patch management tools.

Jay Winks, Teksouth systems specialist, said he is extremely impressed with the improvements HFNetChkLT brings to the company's patch management process.

"Previously, patching servers and workstations had been sporadic with unreliable results, and tracking the patching process was impossible" Winks said. "Patch management was taking us over 20 hours a week. With Shavlik's new HFNetChkLT, that work is done in just a few hours a week, and the results are more reliable."

HFNetChkLT affords small businesses the opportunity to try one of the industry's top patch management tools for free. HFNetChkLT works on Windows SQL, Exchange, Office, NT, 2000, and XP. It will also handle Office 2003 when the full product is released to the public later this year.

HFNetChkPro 4.0 includes a command-line option for security professionals who prefer to work without a GUI. HFNetChkPro 4.0 retails for $23.75 per server or workstation for 100 managed CPUs.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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