Industry Frets Over Software Security

By Matthew Hines  |  Posted 2010-03-10 Print this article Print

Based on the results of a survey conducted at last week's RSA Security Conference in San Francisco, IT security pros are more concerned than ever regarding the resiliency of the software systems that their organizations use based on the availability of exploitable vulnerabilities in the programs.

According to the survey of 200 RSA attendees carried out by code analysis specialists Fortify, a lion's share of RSA attendees, some 73 percent, acknowledge that the software present in their organizations is likely to have exploitable flaws. The number seems even more daunting considering that another 26 percent of those surveyed chose not to answer the question.

In a nod to the seriousness of the issue, some 47 percent of respondents told Fortify that their companies are being actively targeted or attacked more than once a day, with many admitting that it is happening "hundreds of times a day" or "every moment."

Unsurprisingly, as a result of the problem of widespread attacks and highly exploitable vulnerabilities, 74 percent of those people answering the survey said that they now place a high priority on software security efforts within the scope of their overall security strategy. Only 15 percent stated that software security was not a specific area of focus while some 63 percent of respondents said that their organizations already employ a combination of technologies to address the issue.

Among the practices being used by respondents to affect changes in software security are code analysis, application scanning, penetration testing and web application firewalls, with the majority of respondents noting that penetration testing and application scanning were the prevalent solutions used in their organizations.

"As we've seen over the last few years, some of the biggest data breaches have been a result of attacks at the software layer," Barmak Meftah, Chief Products Officer at Fortify, said in a summary of the research. "Enterprises are constantly under attack by data thieves hoping to capitalize on weaknesses in code. Awareness of this risk is critical to tackling the problem of insecure applications."

On another interesting note, a whopping 176, or 88 percent, of the survey respondents admitted to engaging in hacking at some point, with 24 percent stating that their activities were directly "work related" during internal whitehat hacking or penetration testing initiatives. The second most popular reason for hacking was "fun", with 13 percent of respondents citing hacking related to video games as their major reason for engaging in the practice.

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Matt Hines has been following the IT industry for over a decade as a reporter and blogger, and has been specifically focused on the security space since 2003, including a previous stint writing for eWeek and contributing to the Security Watch blog. Hines is currently employed as marketing communications manager at Core Security Technologies, a Boston-based maker of security testing software. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of Core Security, and neither the company, nor its products and services will be actively discussed in the blog. Please send news, research or tips to |

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