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Virtual patching is the process of creating and implementing a temporary policy that is used to mitigate exploitation risks associated with the discovery of new security vulnerabilities. It eliminates the potential threat of application or system security loopholes being identified and exploited by hackers.
Virtual patching is also known as a Web application firewall (WAF).
The primary objective of virtual patching is to stop malicious traffic from accessing a vulnerable application, while simultaneously implementing the security patch. It allows developers and security administrators to keep an application/system running until a vulnerability fix is found, implemented and tested. The patch is installed on only a few select hosts/systems and can be replicated/covered across the application environment. However, virtual patching is not considered a long term solution and generally does not identify all software/system vulnerabilities.