Feeds

Firms fail to focus on most dangerous security threats

Web and client side bugs top peril index

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Enterprises are focusing their information security efforts in the wrong areas, leaving themselves more open to hacking attacks and malware infections as a result.

The 2009 Top Cyber Risks Report from the SANS Institute concludes that most organisations are focusing their security maintenance and vulnerability scanning efforts on keeping operating system software up to date. The bigger threat, however, comes from exploits against websites and client-side vulnerabilities.

Six in 10 of the total number of attacks fall on Web applications, while attacks aimed at applications such as Microsoft Office, and Adobe Flash are also extremely commonplace. The problem is made worse because organisations often take twice as long to patch applications as they do to update operating systems.

Web site vulnerabilities are often exploited to convert trusted Web sites into malicious servers slinging out client-side exploits (ie. drive-by download attacks).

Attacks on Windows over the last six months were dominated by the Conficker worm. More than 90 per cent of the Windows operating system attacks targeted the buffer overflow vulnerability used by Conficker, which was patched by Microsoft's MS08-067 update.

The latest edition of the bi-annual report from the SANS Institute combines attack data from TippingPoint with vulnerability data from Qualys for the first time. The conclusions in the report are derived from real-world data from security appliances and software in thousands of targeted organisations, correlating the attacks with the vulnerabilities they exploit.

The report warns of a backlog of unpatched software, with some flaws going unaddressed for up to two years. This lengthening patch lag time increases the chances for hackers to get around to creating exploits targeting the unpatched vulnerabilities.

"By combining information on attacks with data on specific vulnerabilities, we can provide organisations with real, actionable information for protecting their systems," said Alan Paller, director of research for the SANS Institute. "Our goal in releasing this is to give overwhelmed security professionals the tools they need to prioritise their resources and security practices to achieve the best protection for their network."

The full report can be downloaded here. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Chinese hackers spied on investigators of Flight MH370 - report
Classified data on flight's disappearance pinched
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
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.