Feeds

Shrinking patch windows hit by automated attacks

Quick and dirty exploit peril

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

The length of time between the development of security patches and the development of exploits targeting the security holes they address has been dropping for some time.

Hackers exploit this period of time - the so-called patch window - to launch attacks against unpatched machines. Typically, exploits are developed by skilled hackers versed in the arcane intricacies of reverse engineering.

However, hackers have now begun using off-the-shelf tools to at least partially automate this process, a development that might lead to exploits coming out hours instead of days after the publication of patches.

Security researchers at Berkeley, the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon have launched a research project investigating the approach (pdf.), which relies on comparing the configuration of patched and unpatched machines.

In some cases hackers are able to develop an exploit just minutes after receiving a patch. Fortunately, for now, the technique is rather hit and miss. More often than not the semi-automated process creates tools that only crash vulnerable applications, rather than creating a means to inject hostile code onto vulnerable machines.

Over time the technique is only likely to get more reliable.

The researchers suggest that secure distribution of patches might mitigate against the approach by keeping patches out of the hands of hackers. But, as security watchers at the Internet Storm Centre (ISC) point out, such an approach would take away the benefits of automated patching.

The application of temporary workarounds may be useful in setting up defences against the evolution of automated exploit generation, ISC handler John Bambenek writes. ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.