SecurityBrief NZ - Vulnerable system the root cause of security issues, experts say

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Vulnerable system the root cause of security issues, experts say

In order for organisations to stay on top of their environments, IT teams must have complete visibility of the application that are in use within a business.

That’s the advice from next-gen software firm Flexera, who’s latest vulnerability review reveals more than 16,000 vulnerabilities were recorded in 2015.

The annual report presents global data on the prevalence of vulnerabilities and the availability of patches, and maps the security vulnerability threat to IT infrastructures. It explores the vulnerabilities in the 50 most popular applications on private PCs.

According to the report, vulnerabilities are a root cause of security issues – errors in software that can work as an entry point for hackers and be exploited to gain access to IT systems.

In 2015, Secunia Research at Flexera Software recorded a total of 16,081 vulnerabilities in 2,484 products from 263 vendors.

The breadth of the problem illustrates the challenge faced by IT teams trying to protect their environment against security breaches, Flexera says.

“For organisations to stay on top of their environments, IT teams must have complete visibility of the applications that are in use, and firm policies and procedures in place, in order to deal with the vulnerabilities as they are disclosed,” the company says.

Drop in number of vulnerable products and number of vendors

The corresponding numbers for 2014 were 15,698 vulnerabilities in 3,907 products from 514 vendors.

“The substantial 36% drop in number of products and 49% drop in vendors primarily reflects an adjustment in focus from Secunia Research to only monitor the systems and applications in use in the environments of customers of Flexera Software’s Software Vulnerability Management product line.

 This change is caused by a continuous rise in the number of vulnerabilities reported in recent years, and we are currently seeing other research houses choosing similar strategies – CVE Mitre, for example,” explains Kasper Lindgaard, director of Secunia Research at Flexera Software.

Patch Rates and Zero-day Vulnerabilities

Other findings in the Vulnerability Review 2016 confirm trends from previous years: at 25, the number of zero-day vulnerabilities was the same as in 2014; the split between vulnerabilities in Microsoft and non-Microsoft products in the 50 most popular applications on private PCs is at 21% and 79%.

Most vulnerabilities – 84%– have a patch available on the day of disclosure. 30 days after the vulnerability was first disclosed, only one additional percent has a patch.

Particularly for organisations with a vast array of endpoints to manage - including devices not regularly connected to corporate networks - this means that a variety of mitigating software vulnerability management efforts are required, to ensure sufficient protection.

Key findings from the Vulnerability Review 2016

Total Numbers across All Applications

  • In 2015, Secunia Research at Flexera Software recorded a total of 16,081 vulnerabilities in 2,484 products from 263 vendors.
  • 84 percent of vulnerabilities in all products had patches available on the day of disclosure in 2015.
  • 25 zero-day vulnerabilities were discovered in total in 2015, the same number as the year before.
  • 13.3 percent of the 16,081 vulnerabilities discovered in 2015 were rated as ‘Highly Critical’, and 0.5 percent as ‘Extremely Critical’.
  • In 2015, 1,114 vulnerabilities were discovered in the five most popular browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari. That is a 4 percent increase from 2014.
  • In 2015, 147 vulnerabilities were discovered in the five most popular PDF readers: Adobe Reader, Foxit Reader, PDF-XChange Viewer, Sumatra PDF and Nitro PDF Reader.

The 50 Most Popular Applications on Private PCs

  • 2,048 vulnerabilities were discovered in 25 products in the Top 50 most popular applications on private PCs.
  • 79 percent of vulnerabilities in the 50 most popular applications on private PCs in 2015 affected non-Microsoft applications, by far outnumbering the 7 percent of vulnerabilities found in the Windows 7 operating system or the 14 percent of vulnerabilities discovered in Microsoft applications.
  • The 17 non-Microsoft applications only account for 33 percent of products but are responsible for 79 percent of the vulnerabilities discovered in the Top 50.
Microsoft applications (including the Windows 7 operating system) account for 67 percent of the products in the Top 50, but were only responsible for 21 percent of the vulnerabilities.
  • Over a five year period, the share of vulnerabilities in non-Microsoft applications hovers around 78 percent in the Top 50.
  • The total number of vulnerabilities in the Top 50 most popular applications was 2,048 in 2015, showing a 77 percent increase in the five-year trend. Most of these were rated by Secunia Research at Flexera Software as either 'Highly critical' (62.8 percent) or 'Extremely critical' (8.6 percent).
  • 85 percent of vulnerabilities in the Top 50 had patches available on the day of disclosure in 2015.

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