Vulnerability disclosure gap causes cyber crime opportunity: Lumension

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CTO calls for vendors to cooperate on patch releases.

Vulnerability disclosure is causing a cyber crime opportunity gap between the revelation and the time taken to issue a patch, according to a security expert.

Alan Bentley, SVP international at Lumension, said that the release of 130 vulnerability patches across several platforms "is like giving gold dust to the hacking community".

He said: “The moment a vulnerability is disclosed, cyber criminals get to work developing exploit code to take advantage of the identified holes. With the significant number of holes identified on the same day, businesses will be racing against time to fix them all.”

He went on to claim that the most challenging thing for businesses, when patches are released, is to shut the open doors to their computer systems before the hacker works out how to walk through them.

“But the process isn't as easy as clicking a button for big businesses. Patches effectively change a network and any change has the potential to knock over their IT systems. Organisations need to test the patches against their specific network makeup before they apply them, to ensure they don't interrupt their business,” he said.

Speaking to SC Magazine this week, Wolfgang Kandek, CTO of Qualys, claimed that there is a 'collision of discovery' when it comes to vulnerability disclosure, as more people are looking and more people are discovering.

Asked why so many people are looking, he said: “They are probably after a job or a business and can make money. Someone can work as a consultant or work for a vendor, in good security circumstances can get ovation and public recognition.”

Kandek also called on IT administrators and managers to lobby vendors, such as Adobe and Oracle, to move their patching schedules on to the Windows update. He said that when there is a new vulnerability to be patched, people are not aware of it and companies should map out their need, rule out what they do not need and, if there is a big vendor patch out, to be prepared.

He said: “What the industry should do is go to Microsoft and say 'allow Adobe to run patches with you and get patches rolled out through Windows update'. But only a few people are saying that and it only happens when users say 'we want that'. As a customer, big or small, why in the world would you not do it? It would be a huge benefit for the better of the internet.

“Right now they are all separated and you cannot manage them all at once, with Windows update you have the right console and should come from a managed site."

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