Another sign that regulatory compliance is a big chunk of overall security operations today: A new survey found compliance projects eat up about half of the respondents' work weeks.
Sixty percent of the 1,963 IT security professionals surveyed also said as much as one-fourth of their applications contain unpatched vulnerabilities, according to the 2011 Vulnerability Management Trends Research Report, conducted by security firm eEye Digital Security and released today. Nearly 75 percent of the respondents said their organizations run up to 100 applications, while nearly 20 percent run more than 200 apps.
They are struggling to identify zero-day vulnerabilities in their apps as well. More than 80 percent rated zero-day discovery between three and five, with five being the most difficult, and 20 percent ranked this process as a five.
Marc Maiffret, CTO and co-founder of eEye, says what struck him most about the survey findings was the amount of time IT professionals are spending on dealing with compliance. "Fifty percent seems like a big number. That's not a lot of extra time for general security, so when are they getting their IT projects done?" Maiffret says. "We got a lot of [additional] feedback, and they say that most of their other stuff slips. They are doing whatever is the minimum to be security compliant."
Staffing is another problem, the study found. More than 30 percent said they don't have enough people to handle patching vulnerabilities. Nearly 20 percent said they don't have an integrated vulnerability scanning and patching solution, and 16 percent said their tools don't properly patch remote devices and those on distributed networks. Thirteen percent said their scanners don't find zero-day flaws.
"They are being asked to do a lot more with less," Maiffret says. And they don't have enough personnel nor the right technology or visibility to make properly manage their vulnerability discovery and patching, he says.
That complicates how you prioritize threats, he says. Maiffret points to the Stuxnet Task Scheduler exploit that recently went public: "If you read about it in an article, it sounds very serious. But in reality you can mitigate it with the proper file system permissions," he says. "Those are the sort of things where prioritization [capabilities] are very important."
eEye's survey included responses from C-level executive to manager-level IT pros across various industries in the U.S. The full report is available here for download.
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Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio