Vulnerability Management

Study: 86 percent of websites contain at least one ‘serious’ vulnerability

While high-profile vulnerabilities, including Heartbleed and ShellShock, might have garnered more press than most other vulnerabilities for putting websites at-risk, in reality, these flaws are being patched and addressed more than other pressing vulnerabilities in web application software.

Eighty-six percent of all websites have at least one serious vulnerability, and most of the time, they contain more than one, according to WhiteHat Security's “2015 Website Security Statistics Report.” The likelihood that these vulnerabilities pertain to insufficient transport layer protection is 70 percent and the likelihood of information leakage is 56 percent.

Jeremiah Grossman, founder of WhiteHat, acknowledged in an interview with that the industry is able to identify these vulnerabilities, but where it truly lacks is in the remediation and timely addressing of the bugs.

For instance, 55 percent of retail trade sites and half of health care/social assistance sites are “always vulnerable,” meaning that it is vulnerable through one or more serious vulnerabilities every day of the year.

“We've gotten good at finding vulnerabilities and need to start shifting to the remediation side,” Grossman said. “Secure sites that are infrequently exposed are just fast and thorough about fixing [vulnerabilities].”

The study also involved a survey about various security habits. One question asked respondents who was held accountable for a website data or system breach. Fifty-six percent said no one was held accountable, while the security department was held accountable in 29 percent of instances, and the software development team 26 percent of the time.

Organizations with accountability had an average remediation rate of 33 percent, and those without accountability had a remediation rate of 24 percent.

“Across the board accountability paired with the right tools and processes achieve the best outcomes,” Grossman said. “That's going to be the direction where people need to look.”

For IT security professionals, Grossman recommended they closer align themselves with development to improve visibility and establish a metrics program.

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