Majority of 2019 breaches were the result of unapplied security patches

Despite a 24% average increase in annual spending on prevention, detection and remediation in 2019 compared with 2018, patching is delayed an average of 12 days due to data silos and poor organizational coordination, ServiceNow study finds.

unapplied security patches

Looking specifically at the most critical vulnerabilities, the average timeline to patch is 16 days.

At the same time, the risk is increasing. According to the findings, there was a 17% increase in cyberattacks over the past year, and 60% of breaches were linked to a vulnerability where a patch was available, but not applied.

The study surveyed almost 3,000 security professionals in nine countries to understand how organizations are responding to vulnerabilities.

Security vulnerability management

The survey results reinforce a need for organizations to prioritize more effective and efficient security vulnerability management:

  • 34% increase in weekly costs spent on patching compared to 2018.
  • 30% more downtime vs. 2018, due to delays in patching vulnerabilities.
  • 69% of respondents plan to hire an average of five staff members dedicated to patching in the next year, at an average cost of $650,000 annually for each organization.
  • 88% of respondents said they must engage with other departments across their organizations, which results in coordination issues that delay patching by an average of 12 days.

Organizations need to act fast

The findings also indicate a persistent cybercriminal environment, underscoring the need to act quickly:

  • 17% increase in the volume of cyberattacks in the last 12 months compared to the same timeframe in 2018.
  • Nearly 27% increase in cyberattack severity compared to 2018.

Key factors that contribute to patch delays

The report points to other factors beyond staffing that contribute to delays in vulnerability patching:

  • 76% of respondents noted the lack of a common view of applications and assets across security and IT teams.
  • 74% of respondents said they cannot take critical applications and systems offline to patch them quickly.
  • 72% of respondents said it is difficult to prioritize what needs to be patched.

unapplied security patches

Automation

According to the findings, automation delivers a significant payoff in terms of being able to respond quickly and effectively to vulnerabilities. 80% of respondents who employ automation techniques say they respond to vulnerabilities in a shorter timeframe through automation.

“This study shows the vulnerability gap that has been a growing pain point for CIOs and CISOs,” said Sean Convery, general manager, ServiceNow Security and Risk.

“Companies saw a 30% increase in downtime due to patching of vulnerabilities, which hurts customers, employees and brands. Many organizations have the motivation to address this challenge but struggle to effectively leverage their resources for more impactful vulnerability management. Teams that invest in automation and maturing their IT and security team interactions will strengthen the security posture across their organizations.”

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Majority of 2019 breaches were the result of unapplied security patches