Vulnerability data shows majority of websites are susceptible to a serious flaw

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Despite the average number of serious vulnerabilities per website declining in 2012, 86 per cent of all websites tested were found to have at least one serious vulnerability that exposed it to attack.

According to correlated vulnerability data from more than 650 organisations' websites by WhiteHat Security, ‘serious' vulnerabilities per website went down from 79 in 2011 to 56 in 2012. Serious vulnerabilities were defined as those in which an attacker could take control over all, or some part, of the website, compromise user accounts on the system, access sensitive data or violate compliance requirements.

However, the report discovered that 86 per cent of all websites tested were found to have at least one serious vulnerability that exposed it to attack every single day of 2012. Of those serious vulnerabilities, 61 per cent were resolved on average, and only 18 per cent of websites were vulnerable for fewer than 30 days. On average, resolving these vulnerabilities took 193 days from the first notification.

Jeremiah Grossman, co-founder and chief technology officer at WhiteHat Security, said that the collective data shows that many organisations do not yet consider they need to proactively do something about software security, and all too often there is a ‘wait until something goes wrong' approach.

“This needs to change, and we believe there is now an opportunity for a new generation of security leaders to emerge and distinguish themselves with an understanding of real business and security challenges,” he said.

“Our hope is that they will address these issues we have identified and base their decisions on a foundation of data to improve the state of web security over time.”

The two most prevalent vulnerability classes in 2012 were information leakage and cross-site scripting, identified in 55 per cent and 53 per cent of websites respectively.

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