This content is part of the Essential Guide: Secure email servers on Exchange, Office 365 or both
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Install security updates and protect Exchange 2013

It seems like an obvious step, but one missed security update, patch or hot fix could spell disaster for Exchange.

Email is one of the most crucial parts of an enterprise, and protecting it is just as critical. We've looked at how using role groups, DLP implementation, malware/spam protection and enterprise rights management can work together to create a more secure Exchange 2013 deployment. Now we'll look at why you need to install security updates.

Stay informed on Exchange Server 2013 security updates

Software designers take great pains to create products that are immune to flaws, hacks and exploits, all of which may compromise sensitive data. Yet we see a continuous stream of patches, updates and hot fixes often intended to address security vulnerabilities attackers can expose and exploit with malware, malicious websites or other underhanded tactics. One of the most common security mistakes in any enterprise is overlooking an Exchange Server -- or any server with an OS or mission-critical application -- in need of an important security patch, hot fix or Service Pack. This includes Exchange Server 2013 Service Pack 1, which became available in late February 2014.

Patching a server is no simple task in an enterprise data center with mission-critical systems. Every new update must first be tested in a lab environment to ensure there are no unintended consequences, especially with today's complex software dependencies. You must also test pre-patch backups and restoration processes. Only then can IT admins roll out a patch to production platforms.

Use management tools with system inventory capabilities to identify software versions and include the ability to report platforms where patches, updates, hot fixes and Service Packs are available. This enables IT pros to install security updates and avoid missed patches and overlooked servers, improving security by keeping every system updated --not just Exchange Server.

There is no single tool, patch, policy or practice that ensures the safety of email messages and attachments, or that can prevent data leaks. However, there are tactics that can improve the security posture of your Exchange Server and protect the sensitive data in email. Since Exchange security is not a static issue, it's important to review roles and policies with business managers on a regular basis and adjust them as business needs, compliance requirements and threat environments require.

Next Steps

This is part five in a series about securing Exchange 2013. You can find the other parts of the series by clicking on each individual link.

Part one: role groups

Part two: DLP implementation

Part three: spam and malware protection

Part four: enterprise rights management

Dig Deeper on Exchange Server setup and troubleshooting

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