Attackers are weaponizing more vulnerabilities than ever before

2018 had the most weaponized vulnerabilities ever (177), which represents a 139% increase compared to 2017, according to the RiskSense latest report.

weaponizing vulnerabilities

In addition, the rate of exploits discovered in the wild before a patch was available was nearly three times higher last year than the previous record set in 2010.

The RiskSense Vulnerability Weaponization Insights Report provides an in-depth analysis of vulnerabilities and weaponization patterns across the Adobe family of products from August 1996 through November 2018, and spans 2,891 Common Vulnerabilities and Exposure (CVE) entries.

While the primary data source was Adobe security bulletins and advisories, the study also included CVEs published by third parties such as scanner knowledge bases, bug bounty programs, vendors (SUSE, Red Hat, Microsoft, etc.), and NVD entries that were not included in Adobe security bulletins and advisories.

“The fact that attackers are weaponizing more vulnerabilities than ever before, and releasing exploits before patches are available, illustrates the need for a more holistic approach to vulnerability management and prioritization that is based on threat exploitability and weaponization metrics,” said Srinivas Mukkamala, CEO of RiskSense.

“For example, global exploit kits including Neutrino and Angler were taking advantage of vulnerabilities in the wild for more than a year before they were disclosed.”

2018 was most weaponized year on record

Despite a 31% decrease in vulnerabilities compared to the high reached in 2016, last year had the most weaponized vulnerabilities ever (177), which represents a 139% increase compared to 2017 (74).

Meanwhile, the percentage of vulnerabilities weaponized in 2018 (47.3%) was double compared to 2017 (20.6%) and 2016 (23.2%).

Most exploits are available before a patch is

2018 also had the highest number of exploits in the wild before a patch was available (50), compared to the previous record set in 2010 (18). This represents a nearly 200% increase.

Cloud products produced largest increase in vulnerabilities

2015, the year Adobe introduced cloud-based delivery of its products, generated the largest year over year increase in vulnerabilities. Both in terms of total vulnerabilities and high-severity vulnerabilities.

The number of vulnerabilities in 2015 increased by 357 compared to 2014. Within that figure, 314 were high severity making 2015 the year with largest number of high-severity vulnerabilities.

weaponizing vulnerabilities

Buffer Overflow was most common vulnerability

Among the 2,891 vulnerabilities investigated, Buffer Overflow was the most common type across all years (1,094 CVEs), distantly followed by Out-of-bounds Read (195 CVEs) and Use After Free (160 CVEs) types.

Acrobat Reader most vulnerable product

Over the research period, the Acrobat Reader family of products contained the most vulnerabilities (1,338). In 2015, the year the Acrobat DC product was introduced, 137 vulnerabilities were reported.

Given the large number of organizations that depend on the Acrobat family of products for business workflows, this represents a major security concern.

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Attackers are weaponizing more vulnerabilities than ever before