HP Research Identifies New Era of Security Risk, Shifting Vulnerability Landscape

Cybersecurity report helps enterprises prioritise and reduce risks

May 7, 2012

Cybersecurity report helps enterprises prioritise and reduce risks

HP recently published the 2011 Top Cyber Security Risks Report, which identifies the growing sophistication and severity of security attacks and the resulting risks.

The report provides the information to help enterprises and governments understand the threat landscape and assess their security posture.

The report also indicates that hacker motivations are continuously changing due to the growing presence of “hacktivist” groups, such as Anonymous and LulzSec, which perform highly organised attacks in retaliation for perceived wrongdoing. In addition to changing motivation, advances in attack techniques have led to the increased “success” rate of security breaches. As a result, enterprises and governments are faced with new challenges in assessing and remediating risks.

Historically, the number of vulnerabilities disclosed in a year indicated the current state of the security industry and helped organisations prioritise their defenses. According to the report, pure vulnerability volume is no longer a valid indicator of the security risk landscape. While newly reported vulnerabilities in commercial applications continue to decline, a large number of vulnerabilities are unaccounted for, and are therefore undisclosed to the broader security industry.

“To protect organisations against a wide range of attacks, HP has established a global network of security researchers who look for vulnerabilities that were not publicly disclosed,” Regional Sales Manager for HP Enterprise Security Products (HP TippingPoint), HP Sub Saharan and South Africa. “The intelligence gained from this research group is built into HP enterprise security solutions in an effort to proactively reduce risk.”

Shifting vulnerability landscape
Disclosure of new vulnerabilities in commercial applications has slowly declined since 2006, dropping nearly 20 percent in 2011 from the previous year. However, data from the report demonstrates that this decline does not signify decreased risk.

This decline is due to several factors, including the advent of a private market for sharing vulnerabilities. In addition, the proliferation of custom-built web applications, such as retail web sites, has created a market for unique vulnerability exploits that require advanced expertise to locate and address.

Key findings from the report include:

• Although vulnerability reports have declined, attacks have more than doubled as measured by HP TippingPoint Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) in the second half of 2011.
• Nearly 24 percent of new vulnerabilities disclosed in commercial applications in 2011 have a severity rating of 8 to 10. These vulnerabilities can result in a remote code execution, the most dangerous type of attack.
• Roughly 36 percent of all vulnerabilities are in commercial web applications.
• Approximately 86 percent of web applications are vulnerable to an injection attack, which is when hackers access internal databases through a website.
• Due to a high success rate, web exploit toolkits continued to be popular in 2011. These “packaged” attack frameworks are traded or sold online, enabling hackers to access enterprise IT systems and steal sensitive data. For example, the Blackhole Exploit Kit is used by most cybercriminals, and reached an unusually high infection rate of more than 80 percent in late November 2011.

To combat changing security risks, HP offers the HP Security Intelligence and Risk Management (SIRM) platform, an integrated platform of risk-driven security solutions. HP SIRM delivers visibility across traditional, mobile and cloud environments enabling enterprises to apply adaptive security defenses based on specific organisational risk.
Methodology
The Cyber Security Risks Report has been published every six months since 2009 by HP DVLabs, a premier research organisation for vulnerability analysis and discovery. HP DVLabs analysed security exploit data from thousands of deployed HP TippingPoint Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS). The data was then correlated with information from the following sources:

The Zero Day Initiative, a research program managed by HP DVLabs that is designed to improve security by identifying software flaws which have led to cyber attacks and security breaches.
Open Source Vulnerability Database, an independent and open source database created by and for the security-vulnerabilities community.
• Web application data from the HP Fortify Application Security Center (ASC) Web Security Research Group, which helps security professionals, quality assurance (QA) specialists and developers facilitate the security of web applications across the enterprise, HP Software Professional Services and HP Fortify on Demand.

Data from HP DVLabs is also fed into HP Information Security Pulse, a free mobile application that enables IT security professionals to monitor current cyberthreat trends in real time. The application is currently available for the HP webOS ecosystem and will soon be available on iOS and Android mobile tablet devices.

On Wednesday, May 2, at 11 a.m. CT, Jason Jones, engineer, Advanced Security Intelligence, HP DVLabs, and Adam Hils, senior product manager, HP Fortify, will present the Top Security Threats and Trends: 2011 Cyber Security Risks Report webinar.

HP’s premier client event, HP Discover, will take place June 4-7 in Las Vegas.

HP’s annual enterprise security event, HP Protect, will take place Sept. 10-12 in Nashville, Tenn.