New analysis from NCC Group has revealed that only 26% of vulnerabilities discovered over the last nine years by its research team are likely to have been fixed.
For the first time, the global cyber security and risk mitigation expert analysed nine years of vulnerabilities discovered by its researchers. Of these, just 289 were classed as “closed”, meaning they were either fixed or dismissed once the risk was accepted by the vendor. Of these resolved cases, the average number of days between reporting a vulnerability and its resolution exceeded an industry-accepted 30-day notice period at every level of risk.
The highest average number of days to resolve vulnerabilities was associated with those that were low-risk, which took 96 days to fix on average. Critical and medium-risk vulnerabilities closely followed, with it taking on average 74 and 77 days to resolve these vulnerabilities respectively.
Often, this delay was due to NCC Group researchers having no clear point of contact with whom to disclose the vulnerability. In many cases, staff resorted to contacting social media teams in an effort to find a secure channel of communication through which to disclose the vulnerability, often with no response.
This analysis also uncovered that only 2.4% of vulnerabilities found and reported resulted in a CVE – a number used to uniquely identify a vulnerability with the aim of providing a comprehensive list of all publicly known vulnerabilities.
Matt Lewis, research director at NCC Group, said: “Our analysis highlights a clear knowledge gap when it comes to the resolution of vulnerabilities. Improving our industry’s ability to detect vulnerabilities before they become an issue is less of an achievement without an established process in place for their remediation and disclosure.
“There also seems to be a false sense of security among businesses when it comes to low-risk vulnerabilities. These are vulnerabilities nonetheless, and we’re seeing an increase in bug chaining attacks, which exploit multiple low-risk issues across infrastructure to achieve full, unauthorised control of the underlying system.
“The fact that the majority of vulnerabilities uncovered by our researchers over the last nine years have not been fixed demonstrates that there are likely far more zero-day vulnerabilities in existence than we might think.”