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The shift to a work-from-anywhere model made it challenging for organizations to keep their clients updated with the latest security patches and manage them effectively. Patch management technologies designed for on-premises environments are ineffective for hybrid work formats. This situation puts organizations at risk of delays in deploying critical patches — which gives bad actors extra time to exploit unpatched vulnerabilities and break into organization's systems.
Action1 is a cloud-native patch management platform that allows businesses to mitigate these risks by managing updates across all its clients effectively, no matter where they are located. In addition, it includes plenty of other great features including well-curated App Store, fast and reliable remote desktop, and a script library with numerous helpful scripts for daily management routines. As a SaaS solution, it does not require organizations to host and deploy anything locally.
From my experience as an IT administrator, keeping remote clients updated using traditional patching technologies is a nightmare that often leads to inconsistent patch status and requires significant man hours. A cloud-native solution addresses these issues, and does so in a very streamlined manner. Using an agent-based approach, Action1 console allows IT teams to manage their entire fleet of endpoints connected to the Action1 Cloud. The agent runs as a service on client computers and enables Action1 administrators to execute scripts, roll out deployments, and assist users remotely.
Action1 core features
The core features of Action1 include the following:
- Patch management—Establish policy-based deployment of Windows and third-party updates.
- Software deployment—Remotely push software to endpoints, including custom software packages.
- Remote desktop access—Provide users with remote IT support.
- Endpoint management—Proactively manage device configurations and resolve other maintenance tasks using Action1’s scripts.
- Real-time visibility—Monitor your IT environment and pass compliance audits with Action1’s pre-configured reports, or create custom ones.
Recently added Action1 features
Action1 has a release cycle of 3–4 releases per year that bring new features and improvements to the platform. Take a look at the key features that came with the most recent July 2022 Action1 release:
- Automated reusable policies—IT teams can automate policy-based endpoint management and vulnerability mitigation using the new Script Library, which includes dozens of ready-to-use scripts and can be supplemented with custom ones. The pre-built scripts help IT teams maintain secure device configurations and streamline vital security tasks in hybrid work environments, such as remotely wiping data from a lost or stolen computer or disabling USB storage.
- More control over the patching process—IT teams can deploy patches to remediate security vulnerabilities on their endpoints in a more streamlined manner, thanks to simplified testing of new policies and the ability to customize the schedule for rerunning actions and policies on endpoints that were previously powered off. Improved reporting makes it easier to ensure that anti-virus applications are up to date on all endpoints.
- Other enhancements—There are many additional enhancements, including improved Remote Desktop experience, and service reliability improvements.
Action1 patch management
Action1 provides administrators with the functionality they need to monitor, manage, and deploy updates across their fleet of endpoints using cloud-native automation provided by the Action1 platform.
With Action1, administrators get real-time visibility into missing patches on the managed endpoints. You can see the status of endpoints, critical updates that need to be applied, operating system details, etc.
Updates can be approved one by one or in bulk. Additionally, you can view the updates available for deployment to all endpoints and determine to which endpoints these updates should be applied.
You can click on each update individually and get a list of clients that need this update.
Another great feature is the ability to filter and sort updates available for deployment. You can filter them by patch severity or status, making it easy to see critical updates that need to be applied as soon as possible.
Action1 Policy-based patch management
Most importantly, Action1 allows IT admins to establish automated policy-based patch management program that meets their organization’s needs.
Establishing a patching policy is a simple three-step process.
First, define the updates that need to be deployed on your managed endpoints. As an administrator, you have an option to deploy all updates, pick updates individually, or take the criticality of the updates into account. The configuration enables you to define whether an approval is required and specify reboot options.
Next, select endpoints on which you want to apply these updates. Click the Add Endpoints button, and select the endpoints to which you want to assign the policy.
It will launch the select managed endpoints dialog box. From this window, you can select individual endpoints or endpoint groups you have previously defined. Endpoint groups is indeed a great functionality as it enables you to apply the same settings to dozens of computers at once.
Finally, define the frequency at which you want to apply this policy. It can be set to run every few hours, weekly, or monthly. Also, if the endpoint is offline or unreachable at the time when the policy is scheduled, you can configure the time frame for an endpoint tp catch up with this policy and apply missing updates.
Script policies for patch management workflows
The policy-based patch management neatly integrates into administration routines. You can go as far as implementing chains of policies where one policy triggers the other. For example, after deploying an update, you can execute a policy that runs a script and finilizes the deployment or fine-tunes the client machine.
The Script Library released in July includes dozens of scripts, such as scripts for booting a safe mode, Firewall scripts, repair and management scripts, and others. There is a script policy that creates a system restore point every time you roll out an update that potentially includes breaking changes. Action1 enables you to set a condition to trigger the policy execution, so there is no need to manually verify and force the policy every time you apply patches to your clients.
100 free endpoints
As you can see below, Action1 offers 100 free endpoints for organizations regardless of the size of their IT environment. You can keep your 100 free endpoints forever. It is a great way to try out the solution with a sizable number of endpoints before purchasing more licenses. In addition, the free version for endpoints comes with full functionality without time limits.
As a side note, if you are running a home lab environment, most likely you can cover all your needs in patch management with 100 free licenses provided by Action1.
Wrapping up and impressions
In my opinion, the value and capabilities offered by Action1 keep improving with each new quarterly release. The platform’s comprehensive feature set provides IT admins with all capabilities they need to maintain visibility and control over endpoint patching, bolstering security posture of their organizations.
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Moreover, with its remote desktop access, software deployment, endpoint management, and reporting capabilities, Action1 is an excellent solution for IT admins looking for an easy way to support and secure today’s hybrid workforces.