Online vulnerabilities rose 18pc in 2014 as security worries grow

25 Mar 2015

Over 15,000 vulnerabilities across nearly 4,000 applications were discovered in 2014, a significant rise on 2013.

Secunia, an IT security solutions provider, conducted the research, which shows just how tricky a job it is to publish a truly secure piece of software.

Vulnerabilities are essentially any errors throughout a piece of software that leaves it open to attack from hackers.

The problem with a world that is growing significantly more interconnected is that these vulnerabilities are often linked and can therefore undermine entire networks of information.

For example Anthem Healthcare was compromised a few months ago, with customers past and present affected, globally. When you consider what type of information, valuable information, that a customer would have then you see how dangerous it is to have this data out in the wild.

“Every year, we see an increase in the number of vulnerabilities discovered, emphasising the need for organisations to stay on top of their environment,” says Kasper Lindgaard, director of research and security at Secunia.

“IT teams need to have complete visibility of the applications that are in use, and they need firm policies and procedures in place, in order to deal with the vulnerabilities as they are disclosed.”

However despite the stark rise in vulnerabilities, Secunia noted how quick patches were created once the concern was raised in the public arena. Indeed 83pc of instances saw a patch within 24 hours. 

Although, because the number of issues is so vast, it does mean we were pretty much all affected. For example 45 problems were found in the five most popular pfd readers – Adobe, Foxit, X-Change, Sumatra and Nitro.

Dwarfing that figure, 1,035 vulnerabilities were found in the browsers Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari and Internet Explorer.

Unsecure laptop image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic