Feeds

Patchy response to reducing security exposure

Firms struggle to keep up with hackers - survey

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Enterprises have improved their patching practices over the last 12 months but two out of three (70 per cent) are currently vulnerable and in jeopardy of potential exploit or attack, according to a study by on-demand vulnerability management firm Qualys.

Qualys's third annual Laws of Vulnerabilities research shows organisations have improved patching processes on internal systems by 23 per cent and on external systems by 10 per cent. In the last year, the half-life of critical vulnerabilities (the time it takes users to patch half of their systems) for external systems has been reduced from 21 days to 19 days and from 62 days to 48 days for internal systems.

Vulnerabilities released on a predefined schedule (such as Microsoft's monthly Patch Tuesday) witnessed an 18 per cent increase in patch response. However, the time it take hackers to develop security exploits is also shrinking faster than the remediation cycle. The vast majority (85 per cent) of damage from automated attacks occurs within the first fifteen days from the outbreak. According to Qualys, 90 per cent of vulnerability exposure is caused by 10 per cent of critical security bugs, which frequently lend themselves to the creation of computer worms.

There has also been a significant shift from server-side to client-side vulnerabilities. More than 60 per cent of new critical vulnerabilities occur in client applications, such as web browsers.

"2005 has been the year of improvements for patching and updating vulnerable systems," said Gerhard Eschelbeck, CTO at Qualys. "This is heavily driven by the fact that vendors like Microsoft and others are now issuing regular advisories with patch updates, which ends up speeding the prioritisation and remediation efforts within organisations."

"There's still room for improvement in prioritising patching which, even allowing for time to test patches, can be brought down to 14 to 15 days. Industry developments such as improved remediation through programs such as Network Access Control can also reduce security exposure," he added.

Qualys's research is designed to identify network security trends and compare their remediation efforts with the rest of the industry. This year, the Laws of Vulnerabilities was drawn from a statistical analysis of nearly 21m critical vulnerabilities, collected from 32m live network scans, the largest sample to date. Full findings of the research can be found here. ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
UK smart meters arrive in 2020. Hackers have ALREADY found a flaw
Energy summit bods warned of free energy bonanza
DRUPAL-OPCALYPSE! Devs say best assume your CMS is owned
SQLi hole was hit hard, fast, and before most admins knew it needed patching
Knock Knock tool makes a joke of Mac AV
Yes, we know Macs 'don't get viruses', but when they do this code'll spot 'em
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Mozilla releases geolocating WiFi sniffer for Android
As if the civilians who never change access point passwords will ever opt out of this one
Why weasel words might not work for Whisper
CEO suspends editor but privacy questions remain
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.