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Flexera says software supply chain is broken as patch rates drop

22 Mar 2017

Flexera Software and Secunia Research have found that while there has been a flurry of activity in releasing security patches, many of those patches are not being applied.

The company’s Vulnerability Review 2017 showed that out of the 50 most popular applications on private PCs, 81% of all vulnerabilities had available patches on the day of disclosure.

The total number of vulnerabilities topped 17,147 across 2136 products from 246 vendors. Out of the top 50 applications, 92.5% had patches for known vulnerabilities. However, there has been a marked decrease in patch rates.

Some of the most urgent findings include:

A total of 18% of the 3416 advisories released last year were ‘highly critical’, and 0.5% as extremely critical. 30 days after the vulnerability has been disclosed, only an additional 1% had a patch.

The number of zero-day vulnerabilities has dropped to 22, a drop from 26 in 2015, while the split between vulnerabilities between Microsoft and non-Microsoft products on private PCs sat at 22.5% and 77.5% respectively. 

PDF Readers, which have a high rate of unpatched used. Adobe Reader is the most popular, but 75% of its private users ran unpatched versions of it last year - even though there were patches available. 

Along with Adobe Reader, Foxit Reader, PDF-XChange Viewer, Sumatra PDF and Nitro PDF Reader accounted for 289 vulnerabilities.

In terms of web browsers, there were 713 vulnerabilities (a drop of 27.5%) across the five most popular browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari.

Flexera says the ‘software supply chain’ is broken because of high rate of unpatched versions being used on private PCs and the workplace.

Software Vulnerability Management should be used more often to help organisations find and patch vulnerable applications, particularly for IT teams that must have complete visibility over the applications used at any time.

“The software supply chain is very unique in industry – it is not uncommon for software producers to release products containing exploitable vulnerabilities, which then becomes their customers’ problem. That is why software buyers must be vigilant when buying, managing, and securing their software,” comments Kasper Lindgaard, director of Secunia Research at Flexera Software.

“As our report details, patches are available in the majority of times a vulnerability is disclosed.  Companies need to take advantage of this knowledge, and actively apply patches in a timely manner,” Lindgaard says.

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