Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Application Security

Developers Still Don't Properly Handle Sensitive Data

The top classes of vulnerabilities for 2019 indicate that developers still don't correctly sanitize inputs, nor protect passwords and keys as they should.

Open-source software projects continue to struggle with handling sensitive information, according to automated scans of hundreds of millions of commits to code repositories.

Software-security toolmaker DeepCode found that four of the seven vulnerabilities classes with the greatest impact on the security of software projects had to do with failures to protect data. The categories of Missing Input Data Sanitization and Insecure Password Handling laid claim to the top-two slots on the company's list of important vulnerability classes. Two other data security issues — Weak Cryptography and Lack of Information Hiding — came in No. 6 and No. 7 on the list, which was published this week.

The issues underscore that developers need to continue to focus on producing secure code in 2020, says Boris Paskalev, CEO and co-founder of the company. "We believe that any developer who has these issues should want to take care of them," he says, adding the developers should continue to learn about security. "In at least every other other major repository, we see a security vulnerability."

Driven by increased research into software security, more software under development, companies' greater openness to vulnerability reporting, and perhaps most of all - improvements to the process of recording vulnerability reports - the number of software security issues published in the National Vulnerability Database rose to the highest recorded level in 2019, surpassing 17,300 issues reported during the year.

This continues a trend that started in 2017, when the number of vulnerabilities reported annually jumped to 14,645, more than doubling the prior year's tally.

Focusing on all the issues is impossible, so security teams and developers have to be selective about where they invest their security effort and training. The Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) list of most dangerous software errors, for example, points at different classes of vulnerabilities based on their relative frequency of occurrence over the past two years. 

Yet, developers have trouble closing security holes in a timely manner. In a report based on tests of more than 85,000 applications, software security firm Veracode found that companies only manage to fix 56% of vulnerabilities between the first and last scans.

From its scans of open-source repositories and the commits — changes made by the developers — to those projects, the company can track the ebb and flow of vulnerabilities as they are deployed to code, caught, and then fixed. The list of the most important security vulnerabilities can act as a cheat sheet for developers, Paskalev says.

"Almost any large open-source framework has these issues, so it's good to know what to look out for," he says. 

The list created by DeepCode does not count just the most common vulnerabilities, but instead what the company considers the most important. The top category of defect is malformed date-time values and the mishandling of those variables, but those bugs typically do not have a major impact on programs, Paskalev says. The company categorizes vulnerabilities into 200 categories and focuses on the most impactful for the list.

"A bug could be anything from an unsanitized input to broken pipes," he says. "Most of them result in performance degradation or a resource or memory leak, things like that."

Automated tools are critical to finding vulnerabilities and catching coding errors before the software is deployed, especially as software is produced with increasing velocity, Paskalev says.

"A set of tools — automated tools — are needed to make sure they catch these issues," he says. "You want to check as often as possible. I almost see a continuous checking like a debugger."

Yet, corporate management also needs to create an environment where security is a focus for developers. While seven in ten developers are expected to write secure code in their jobs, half of developers only find coding errors after applications are deployed to a test environment or to a later stage, according to a July report by DevOps service provider GitLab

Related Content

Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's top story: "What Tools Will Find Misconfigurations in My AWS S3 Cloud Buckets?"

Veteran technology journalist of more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Written for more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT's Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News. Five awards for journalism, including Best Deadline ... View Full Bio
 

Recommended Reading:

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
COVID-19: Latest Security News & Commentary
Dark Reading Staff 7/14/2020
Omdia Research Launches Page on Dark Reading
Tim Wilson, Editor in Chief, Dark Reading 7/9/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Special Report: Computing's New Normal, a Dark Reading Perspective
This special report examines how IT security organizations have adapted to the "new normal" of computing and what the long-term effects will be. Read it and get a unique set of perspectives on issues ranging from new threats & vulnerabilities as a result of remote working to how enterprise security strategy will be affected long term.
Flash Poll
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
The Threat from the Internetand What Your Organization Can Do About It
This report describes some of the latest attacks and threats emanating from the Internet, as well as advice and tips on how your organization can mitigate those threats before they affect your business. Download it today!
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-10287
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
The IRC5 family with UAS service enabled comes by default with credentials that can be found on publicly available manuals. ABB considers this a well documented functionality that helps customer set up however, out of our research, we found multiple production systems running these exact default cre...
CVE-2020-10288
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
IRC5 exposes an ftp server (port 21). Upon attempting to gain access you are challenged with a request of username and password, however you can input whatever you like. As long as the field isn't empty it will be accepted.
CVE-2020-15780
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
An issue was discovered in drivers/acpi/acpi_configfs.c in the Linux kernel before 5.7.7. Injection of malicious ACPI tables via configfs could be used by attackers to bypass lockdown and secure boot restrictions, aka CID-75b0cea7bf30.
CVE-2019-17639
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
In Eclipse OpenJ9 prior to version 0.21 on Power platforms, calling the System.arraycopy method with a length longer than the length of the source or destination array can, in certain specially crafted code patterns, cause the current method to return prematurely with an undefined return value. This...
CVE-2019-20908
PUBLISHED: 2020-07-15
An issue was discovered in drivers/firmware/efi/efi.c in the Linux kernel before 5.4. Incorrect access permissions for the efivar_ssdt ACPI variable could be used by attackers to bypass lockdown or secure boot restrictions, aka CID-1957a85b0032.