Application Security

1/5/2017
09:30 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Non-Web App Vulnerabilities Outpace Web App Flaws

On back of IoT and other growing application spaces, the gap between vulns found in Web apps compared to all other apps widens in 2016.

As experts start to sift through the vulnerability and attack data of the previous year, most statistics bubbling to the surface are anything but surprising. Predictably, researchers pretty much agree across the board that the total number of application vulnerabilities found keeps increasing. But digging deeper, there was a surprise: On the vulnerability front, the total number of Web application vulnerabilities actually decreased in 2016.

This stat comes by way of Imperva researchers who last week reported their findings in a technical analysis of vulnerability trends for 2016. While that might get those with rose-colored glasses to proclaim progress in Web app security, researchers Nadav Avital and Mia Joskowicz believe that corresponding attack data shoots that down as unlikely. Instead, they believe that there's only so many security researchers out there in the wide world and right now, they've got other fish to fry. 

"A more likely explanation can be that this trend stems from a shift in the cyber security research focus that was influenced by changes in network-based consumption," they wrote. "For instance, a growing number of IoT devices, with a growing number of new security vulnerabilities, were introduced to the market with little or no security at all.

As an example of the low-hanging fruit security researchers are currently plucking from the IoT space, reports from DEF CON alone last year showed that researchers found 47 vulnerabilities in a minuscule sampling of 23 IoT applications. Consider that rate of flaws in context of the magnitude of IoT growth and it becomes a very scary proposition, indeed.

According to Gartner predictions in the fall, analysts believe that by 2021 there will be 1 million new IoT devices sold every hour and $2.5 million spent per minute on IoT applications. With that kind of wide open attack surface area within individual IoT apps - combined with the current explosion in deployments - is it any wonder that researchers are shifting gears into this new frontier of security? Many recognize that the impact of their finds have a very high likelihood of making a huge splash.

"When smart thermostats alone exceed one million devices, it’s not hard to imagine a vulnerability that can easily exceed the scale of other common web vulnerabilities such as Heartbleed, especially if multiple IoT solutions include the same open source component," Forrester analysts recently wrote about IoT.

Plus, beyond the current ease of uncovering serious IoT flaws and the magnitude of pain that potential IoT vulnerabilities could cause, there's also one other major draw for researchers. The crossover of many of these IoT apps into the physical realm makes them sexy to people fascinated with breaking stuff.

What that will mean for the future of Web app vulnerability research is still up in the air, but the rise of the Mirai botnet shows that attackers in 2016 are already making hay while the sun shines, making haste to leverage obvious IoT flaws profitably. So a little diversion of resources to this niche can't come fast enough.

Related Content:

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
FTC Opens Probe into Equifax Data Breach
Jai Vijayan, Freelance writer,  9/14/2017
Equifax CIO, CSO Step Down
Dark Reading Staff 9/15/2017
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Write a Caption, Win a Starbucks Card! Click Here
Latest Comment: This comment is waiting for review by our moderators.
Current Issue
Security Vulnerabilities: The Next Wave
Just when you thought it was safe, researchers have unveiled a new round of IT security flaws. Is your enterprise ready?
Flash Poll
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
[Strategic Security Report] How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Problem
Enterprises are spending more of their IT budgets on cybersecurity technology. How do your organization's security plans and strategies compare to what others are doing? Here's an in-depth look.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.