There appears to be little relief in sight for organizations hoping for some respite from patching. A new report from Risk Based Security released today reveals that the number of vulnerabilities discovered in software products shows no signs of abating.
Between January 1 and June 30 of this year, a total of 10,644 vulnerabilities were published compared to 9,690 in the same period in 2017. The trend so far this year suggests that the total number of disclosed vulnerabilities in 2018 will comfortably exceed the 20,832 vulnerabilities that Risk Based Security published during 2017 — which itself represented a 31% increase over 2016.
About 17% of the reported flaws this year were deemed critical and had a severity rating of between 9.0 and 10.0 on the CVSS rating scale. That number is smaller than the 21.1% of flaws overall that garnered the same rating in Risk Based Security's report for the first half of 2017.
Somewhat expectedly a plurality of 2018 vulnerabilities – 46.3% - were Web-related flaws, and half of all reported vulns were remotely exploitable. Nearly one-third of the vulnerabilities so far this year in Risk Based Security's database have public exploits, but 73 have a documented solution.
A majority of the vulnerabilities are based on processing user or attacker-supplied input, and the software not properly-sanitizing that input, says Brian Martin, vice president of vulnerability intelligence for Risk Based Security. "We classify them as input manipulation issues that impact the integrity of the software," he notes.
Not All in the CVE & NVD
Significantly, Risk Based Security's vulnerability database contained more than 3,275 vulnerabilities that were not published in MITRE's CVE and the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) in the first half of 2018. Of these, more than 23% had a CVSS score between 9.0 and 10.0.
In other words, organizations relying purely on the CVS/NVD vulnerability data would likely not have been aware of more than 750 other critical vulnerabilities that were published elsewhere.
"The biggest takeaway is that the number of vulnerabilities being disclosed continues to rise, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future," Martin says.
More importantly, the data shows that organizations cannot rely solely on the CVE database for their vulnerability data, he says.
His firm uses over 2,000 sources for its vulnerability data including mail lists such as Bugtraq and Full Disclosure, exploit websites such as ExploitDB and Packetstorm, and vendor resources such as customer forums. Other sources include formal advisories and knowledge base articles, and developer resources such as changelog, bug-tracking systems, and code commits, Martin says.
Risk Based Systems typically aggregates and processes newly disclosed vulnerabilities in less than 24 hours, depending on the disclosure and if additional analysis is needed. For some security vulnerabilities, the vendor discloses at roughly the same time as CVE and for others, it is weeks and even months, ahead of them, he notes.
Not So Fast
While Risk Based Security's statistics might suggest that software is becoming increasingly buggy, the reality appears a little more nuanced. According to Martin, there are likely many reasons why more flaws are being discovered in software products these days despite the heightened awareness and attention being paid to application security.
Among them is the fact that there are a lot more security researchers looking for and reporting security vulnerabilities these days compared to a few years ago. Tools for finding security vulnerabilities have improved as well and have become faster and more reliable than before, too.
And organizations that monitor and aggregate vulnerabilities are also improving their processes and software vendors themselves have become better at disclosing vulnerabilities reported to them, Martin notes.
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