A new report from HP provides in-depth data and analysis around the most pressing security issues plaguing enterprises. It details factors that contributed most to the growing attack surface in 2013—increased reliance on mobile devices, proliferation of insecure software and the growing use of Java—and outlines recommendations for organizations to minimize security risk and the overall impact of attacks.
“Adversaries today are more adept than ever and are collaborating more effectively to take advantage of vulnerabilities across an ever-expanding attack surface,” said Jacob West, chief technology officer, Enterprise Security Products, HP. “The industry must band together to proactively share security intelligence and tactics in order to disrupt malicious activities driven by the growing underground marketplace.”
While vulnerability research continued to gain attention, the total number of publicly disclosed vulnerabilities decreased by 6 percent year over year, and the number of high-severity vulnerabilities declined for the fourth consecutive year, decreasing by 9 percent. Although unquantifiable, the decline may be an indication as to a surge in vulnerabilities that are not publicly disclosed but rather delivered to the black market for private and/or nefarious consumption.
Nearly 80 percent of applications reviewed contained vulnerabilities rooted outside their source code. Even expertly coded software can be dangerously vulnerable if misconfigured.
Inconsistent and varying definitions of malware complicate risk analysis. In an examination of more than 500,000 mobile applications for Android, HP found major discrepancies between how antivirus engines and mobile platform vendors classify malware.
Forty-six percent of mobile applications studied use encryption improperly. HP research shows that mobile developers often fail to use encryption when storing sensitive data on mobile devices, rely on weak algorithms to do so, or misuse stronger encryption capabilities, rendering them ineffective.
Internet Explorer was the software most targeted by HP Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) vulnerability researchers in 2013, and accounted for more than 50 percent of vulnerabilities acquired by the program. This attention results from market forces focusing researchers on Microsoft vulnerabilities and does not reflect on the overall security of Internet Explorer.
Sandbox bypass vulnerabilities were the most prevalent and damaging for Java users. Adversaries significantly escalated their exploitation of Java by simultaneously targeting multiple known (and zero day) vulnerabilities in combined attacks to compromise specific targets of interest.
- In today’s world of rising cyberattacks and growing demands for secure software, it is imperative to eliminate opportunities for unintentionally revealing information that may be beneficial to attackers.
- Organizations and developers alike must stay cognizant of security pitfalls in frameworks and other third-party code, particularly for hybrid mobile development platforms. Robust security guidelines must be enacted to protect the integrity of applications and the privacy of users.
- While it is impossible to eliminate the attack surface without sacrificing functionality, a combination of the right people, processes and technology does allow organizations to effectively minimize the vulnerabilities surrounding it and dramatically reduce overall risk.
- Collaboration and threat intelligence sharing among the security industry helps gain insight into adversary tactics, allowing for more proactive defense, strengthened protections offered in security solutions, and an overall safer environment.
The complete report from HP is available here (registration required).