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Application Patching


Patching ensures that all software is up to date and known vulnerabilities have been remediated. Fixing vulnerabilities through patches helps keep the integrity of the system and deter hackers. Patching proactively updates software to consistently run the latest approved versions of the software. Patching is the process of supplying and applying patches to software. This includes the operating systems (OS), system software, browsers, desktop, laptops, common third-party applications, and any other applications that your company or department use. Patches are released to fix software bugs and/or amend security vulnerabilities.

Types of Patches

There are different types of patches such as:

  • Service pack
  • Security patch
  • Point release
  • Hotfix

A service pack is a major release that usually includes updates for enhancements, bug fixes, and security patches. They are usually released with a collection of single updates and typically more time consuming than other patches.

A security patch includes fixes to any existing vulnerabilities that have been found. This is one of the most important patch types because this helps maintains your system’s integrity. Delaying security patches increases the risk that your system will be compromised.

A point release is a minor release addressing bugs in the software. It does not necessarily fix all existing bugs, but includes multiple bug fixes which do not involve significant changes. This type of update is more frequent than others.

A hotfix or quick-fix engineering update is an update to an application that focuses on a specific situation. These generally cannot wait for another update and is done immediately for the software. This should be done without having any system downtime or outrage.


  • New updates may get rid of present bugs.
  • New features to make applications better.
  • Make the application better support latest version of your OS.
  • Taking care of possible vulnerabilities in the software.


  • May bring new bugs with it.
  • Could remove features that you may have liked.


Patching Applications

  1. Know how to check the application version. Typically, the version information can be found in the application settings, an about page, or a version command flag (e.g. --version).
  2. Familiarize yourself with the update process for the application. Consult your application’s documentation for information specific to your application.
  3. Keep your application up to date with the latest version. The easiest way to accomplish this is by enabling automatic updates.

Update Google Chrome

  1. Open Google Chrome.
  2. Click on the three dots in the upper right corner.
  3. Click Help > About Google Chrome.

A new page will load that will tell you if you need a new to update Chrome or that it is already up to date.

Update Firefox

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Click on the three lines in the upper right corner.
  3. Click on Help > About Firefox.

From there it will tell you if your browser is up to date or not.

Update Microsoft Edge

  1. Open Microsoft Edge.
  2. Click on the three dots in the upper right corner.
  3. Click on Help and Feedback > About Microsoft Edge.

From there it will tell you if your browser is up to date or not.


If you have questions or information that is not covered in this procedure, please contact the Virginia Tech IT Security Office at for a consultation.