Feeds

Patchy response to reducing security exposure

Firms struggle to keep up with hackers - survey

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code
It's been fixed, but hordes won't have applied the upgrade
Apple grapple: Congress kills FBI's Cupertino crypto kybosh plan
Encryption would lead us all into a 'dark place', claim G-Men
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.