Vulnerabilities inside and out

Inside threats are, by far, the most dangerous challenges in today's network security

Overwhelming results

I found that 86 percent of all announced vulnerabilities were client-side attacks requiring end-user interaction, and 14 percent were noninteractive remote exploits.

Of the noninteractive, remote exploits (39 out of the 270), 79 percent required no authentication to work, while 21 percent required an authenticated user account connection or even an administrator connection (much more likely with Windows Server 2003).

Even if I pull out all the end-user application vulnerabilities (IE, Office, and so on), the overall conclusions are the same: Client-side vulnerabilities are far more prevalent than remote attacks. Most malicious attacks require the end-user to click on a link or file.Â

What does it mean? IT shops should spend at least as much time blocking client-side attacks as they do on preventing remote attacks (using firewalls, IPSs, and more). The biggest threat to your environment isn't the external hacker or the internal intruder; it's the accidental insider who unknowingly infects their computer, compromises the entire network, and undoes all your hard work. Again, this is nothing new, but we have some facts and statistics to back it up this time.

My analysis is far from conclusive. For one, I didn't factor in severity information, whether or not the exploited component is installed by default, or whether the exploit was widely used against the general public. Those are big factors to ignore. I also included local privilege escalation attacks into the client-side attacks, simply to differentiate between the local and truly remote access needed to accomplish the attack. This slightly skews the results in favor of client-side attacks, but in reality, if an attacker has local user access on your system, it's pretty much "game over" anyway.

This analysis confirms that client-side attacks are indeed the No. 1 threat by a far margin. There's no surprise here, but now we have numbers versus warm fuzzies and gut feelings. If someone did the same analysis for Linux and OS X, I'm fairly confident the results would be the same.

Of course, most remote exploits against Internet-based servers occur because of human-coded application errors, such as SQL injection, inadequate permissions, and misconfigurations, which require an entirely different analysis altogether. What I wanted to show is how prevalent client-side attacks were versus completely remote exploits, requiring no end-user interaction.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Roger A. Grimes

InfoWorld

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?