Vulnerability disclosure hits record levels


Vulnerability disclosures reached record levels in the first half of 2010, with most security holes lacking vendor patches, a report has shown.

In total, IBM's X-Force Research and Development team recorded 4,396 new vulnerabilities over the first six months of 2010, representing a 36 per cent rise over the same period in 2009.

More than half of these flaws did not have a vendor-supplied patch by the end of the period.

The spike in disclosures might be the product of some of the work happening at software companies, which are hopefully putting more effort into trying to identify threats, patch them and then inform the public, said Tom Cross, manager of the X-Force team.

"It might actually be a good sign that we've seen an increase in vulnerability disclosure but for us it certainly makes the days longer," Cross said.

Steve Robinson, general manager of IBM Security Solutions, added: "This year's X-Force report reveals that although threats are on the rise, the industry as a whole is getting much more vigilant about reporting vulnerabilities."

Vendor differences

The X-Force team reviewed the vendors with the most disclosures and discovered Sun Microsystems had the worst patch rate for the first half of 2010, with 24 per cent of vulnerabilities unpatched by the end of that period.

Microsoft did not fare much better, with 23.2 per cent of security holes lacking a fix.

Adobe, which plugged security holes in its Reader and Acrobat software this month, only had 2.9 per cent of bugs unpatched.

Google had the worst rate when it came to vulnerabilities with critical and high ratings, with 33 per cent patchless by the end of the period. Apple was the best performer in this category with none left unpatched.

Of all disclosures of vulnerabilities in operating systems ranked critical and high, Microsoft reported more than any other major vendor.

Almost three-quarters of all such disclosures came from Microsoft, with Linux far behind in second on 16 per cent.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.