Web Applications: Achilles' Heel Of Corporate Security

Custom-built software is more likely to garner an online attack and less likely to be disclosed in bug reports, IBM reveals.
Further complicating the security picture is the speed at which exploits are released. Whereas in the past it might have taken weeks or months for exploit code to appear following the disclosure of a vulnerability, now it often happens the same day.

"In 2008, 89% of these public exploits were released on the same day or before the official vulnerability disclosure," the report states. "Browser-related exploits, in particular, are increasingly prone to same-day exploit publication. In the first half of 2008, 94% of all browser-related public exploit code was published within 24 hours of official vulnerability disclosure, up from 79% in 2007."

The second half of 2008 turned out to be a bit better, with only 89% of browser-related exploit code appearing within a day of vulnerability disclosure.

While Windows machines remain the most affected by security problems, the Windows operating system did better than the competition in terms of the percentage of vulnerability disclosures per platform. The operating systems with the most disclosed vulnerabilities were Apple Mac OS X (14.3%), Apple Mac OS X Server (14.3%), Linux kernel (10.9%), Sun Solaris (7.3%), and Microsoft Windows XP (5.5%).

Don't read too much into this, however. While such findings may validate Microsoft's Security Development Lifecycle policy, Windows users still have more to worry about from malware than users of Mac OS X, at least for the time being. Also, consider that privately reported vulnerabilities aren't necessarily going to be made public.

In terms of malicious Web sites hosting client exploits, Microsoft fares less well. In the fourth quarter, the components affected by such exploits were Internet Explorer (34%), ActiveX (33.8%), Adobe Flash (14.8%), Adobe Acrobat (10%), generic exploit or obfuscation (7.1%), Mozilla Firefox (0.3%), and Microsoft Windows (0.1%).

No matter how you slice it, it isn't a pretty picture.