Microsoft continues to focus on security in their products

86% of vulnerabilities discovered in the most popular 50 programs in 2012 were in non-Microsoft (or “third-party”) programs. The result was published today in the Secunia Vulnerability Review 2013 that analyzes the evolution of software vulnerabilities from a global, industry, enterprise, and endpoint perspective.

The identified 86% represent an increase from 2011, when non-Microsoft programs represented 78% of vulnerabilities discovered in the Top 50 most popular programs. The remaining 14% of vulnerabilities were found in Microsoft programs and Windows operating systems – a much lower share compared to 2011, indicating that Microsoft continues to focus on security in their products.

“In general we see good vendor response times for 0-day vulnerabilities throughout the large software manufacturers. For coordinated disclosures and disclosures on e.g. mailing lists the timeline is longer. This is most probably due to the vendors patch release cycles. We have seen shorter time-to-patch times from most of the vendors compared to 2011, there are however still room for improvement, so the vendors can ensure that users of their software receives patches in a quicker pace,” Kasper Lindgaard, Head of Research for Secunia, told Help Net Security.

Gartner places “patching beyond just the OS (common applications) on all systems” among their “Best Security” recommendations for securing midmarket IT environments.

Even so, IT professionals everywhere are inclined to focus on patching Microsoft programs, operating systems and just a few other programs. And ignoring the threat that vulnerabilities represent in non-Microsoft programs is both reckless and unnecessary.

“Reckless’, because in the most popular 50 programs, no less than 1,137 vulnerabilities were discovered in 18 different programs – that’s an average of 63 vulnerabilities per vulnerable product in the most popular programs on private PCs worldwide.

The fact that 84% of vulnerabilities have a patch available on the day of disclosure is an improvement to the previous year, 2011, in which 72% had a patch available on the day of disclosure. The most likely explanation for this improvement in “time-to-patch’ is that more researchers coordinate their vulnerability reports with vendors.

“Companies cannot continue to ignore or underestimate non-Microsoft programs as the major source of vulnerabilities that threaten their IT infrastructure and overall IT-security level. The number of vulnerabilities is on the increase, but many organizations continue to turn a blind eye, thereby jeopardizing their entire IT infrastructure: It only takes one vulnerability to expose a company, and no amount of processes and technology that supports operating systems and Microsoft programs will suffice in providing the required level of protection,” said Morten R. Stengaard, Secunia’s Director of Product Management.

Key findings from the report:

1. Non-Microsoft (third-party) programs rather than programs from Microsoft are responsible for the growth in vulnerabilities.

2. Over a five year period, the share of third-party vulnerabilities has increased from 57% in 2007 to 86% in 2012. From 2011 to 2012 alone, the number increased from 78% to 86%.

3. 86% of vulnerabilities in 2012 affected third-party programs, by far outnumbering the 5.5% of vulnerabilities found in operating systems or the 8.5% of vulnerabilities discovered in Microsoft programs. In 2011, the numbers were 78% (non-Microsoft), 10% (operating systems) and 12% (Microsoft).

4. The total number of vulnerabilities in the Top 50 most popular programs was 1,137 in 2012, showing a 98% increase in the 5 year trend. Most of these were rated by Secunia as either “Highly critical’ (78.8%) or “Extremely critical’ (5.3%).

5. The 1,137 vulnerabilities were discovered in 18 products in the Top 50 portfolio – that’s 63 vulnerabilities per vulnerable product on average.

6. In 2012, 2,503 vulnerable products were discovered with a total of 9,776 vulnerabilities in them. That means there’s an average of 4 vulnerabilities per vulnerable product.

7. 84% of vulnerabilities had patches available on the day of disclosure; therefore the power to patch end-points is in the hands of all end-users and organizations. In 2011, the number was 72%.

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