Security experts have long opined that one way to make software more secure is to hold software makers liable for vulnerabilities in their products. This idea is often dismissed as unrealistic and one that would stifle innovation in an industry that has been a major driver of commercial growth and productivity over the years. But a new study released this week presents perhaps the clearest economic case yet for compelling companies to pay for information about security vulnerabilities in their products.
On any given day, nation-states and criminal hackers have access to an entire arsenal of zero-day vulnerabilities — undocumented and unpatched software flaws that can be used to silently slip past most organizations’ cyber defenses, new research suggests. That sobering conclusion comes amid mounting evidence that thieves and cyberspies are ramping up spending to acquire and stockpile these digital armaments.
The Common Vulnerability & Exposures (CVE) index, the industry standard for cataloging software security flaws, is growing so rapidly that it will soon be adding a few more notches to its belt: The CVE said it plans to allow for up to 100 times more individual vulnerabilities to be indexed each year to accommodate an increasing number of software flaw reports.
Roughly half of the exploits tested were exact copies of the first exploit code to be made public against the vulnerability. NSS also tested detection for an equal number of exploit variants, those which exploit the same vulnerability but use slightly different entry points in the targeted system’s memory. None of the exploits used evasion techniques commonly employed by real-life exploits to disguise themselves or hide from intrusion detection systems.
Among all ten products, NSS found that the average detection rate against original exploits was 76 percent, and that only three out of ten products stopped all of the original exploits. The average detection against exploits variants was even lower, at 58 percent, NSS found.
A new study about the (in)efficacy of anti-virus software in detecting the latest malware threats is a much-needed reminder that staying safe online is more about using your head than finding the right mix or brand of security software.
Last week, security software testing firm NSS Labs released the results of its latest controversial test of how the major anti-virus products fared in detecting real-life malware from actual malicious Web sites: Most of the products took an average of more than 45 hours — nearly two days — to detect the latest threats.