A new list of the most vulnerable applications in widespread business use is populated with many of the most popular applications in business use -- whether or not their use is actually authorized by the business.Grain of salt time: the list of most vulnerable applications is prepared by a company, Bit9, that offers application whitelisting services -- centralized management of which apps are and are not allowed to run on your machines. Make that a couple of grains of salt.
That said, the Bit9 look at applications that bring vulnerabilities as well as benefits into the workplace is worth a look.
Topping the list are:
Mozilla Firefox, versions 2.x and 3.x Adobe Acrobat, versions 8.1.2 and 8.1.1 Microsoft Windows Live (MSN) Messenger, versions 4.7 and 5.1 Apple iTunes, versions 3.2 and 3.1.2 Skype, version 18.104.22.168
with Bit9's dangerous dozen rounded out with products from Yahoo, Symantec, Sun, Trend Micro, Citrix, Aurigma and Lycos.
The essence of Bit9's methodology is straightforward: the programs have to run under Windows and be difficult to patch automatically. (Most of the Vulnerabilities the company identifies have long had patches available.)
In other words, the most vulnerable apps are also apps whose vulnerabilities could be mitigated by a dose of application whitelisting.
Nothing wrong in that -- Bit9 is admittedly and openly marketing its services.
What makes the list most interesting for small and midsized businesses is the nature of some of the products Bit9 identifies: image uploaders (Aurigama and Lycos), music players (iTunes) and Net phone (Skype.) Apps with business uses, sure, but also products that employees may be adding to your system on their own.
And that's the great reminder here: whether or not you turn control of your systems over to an outside service, you need to know everything that's being run in your company.
Especially the apps you haven't authorized.
The complete Bit9 report can be downloaded here. (Registration required.