SecuritySecurity Management

Microsoft Vulnerabilities Grew Sharply In 2015

Duncan MacRae is former editor and now a contributor to TechWeekEurope. He previously edited Computer Business Review's print/digital magazines and CBR Online, as well as Arabian Computer News in the UAE.

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Report from IT security firm Avecto reveals huge increase in vulnerabilities in 2015, with almost half deemed critical

The number of Windows vulnerabilities in 2015 increased by 52 percent year-on-year, new research from security software company Avecto has revealed.

Following analysis of Microsoft security bulletins Avecto found that a total of 524 vulnerabilities were reported, with 48 percent (251) given a critical severity rating.

Attack

Microsoft Office products were the subject of 62 of these vulnerabilities, an increase of 210 percent since 2014. Of these, 16 were classed as critical, meaning that all businesses using the software were potentially vulnerable to attack.

Microsoft Windows 10 IPEXPO (3)Co-founder and co-CEO at Avecto, Mark Austin, said: “Given the current state of the security landscape, it’s no surprise that the number of vulnerabilities increases every year, but a large proportion of the business community still remain ignorant to the most effective measures that should be taken in mitigating the risk associated with these vulnerabilities.”

Avecto also discovered that 27 percent of the critical vulnerabilities reported last year affected Windows 10, the latest version of the OS that Microsoft had dubbed ‘the most secure Windows ever’.

“It’s important that companies remain discerning and don’t just assume that certain platforms are inherently secure because they are popular or new.

“Even the most widespread and up-to-date software can still contain loopholes and all too often it takes weeks or months to rollout a patch. It’s not just Microsoft either, we’ve seen a significant spike in Mac vulnerabilities too.”

The risk associated with 82 percent of critical vulnerabilities affecting Windows 10 and 85 percent of all the critical vulnerabilities reported in 2015 could be mitigated by removing admin rights from users.

Sami Laiho, Windows security specialist and Microsoft MVP said the report highlighted once again the need to remove admin rights in an enterprise setting.

He added: “This latest report from Avecto is another wake up call for organisations. If you combine a more than 50 percent increase in the number of vulnerabilities over 12 months with the fact that both Microsoft and Symantec discovered 250,000 new malware samples every day during the same period, it’s easy to see the size and scale of the problem organisations now face.

“From a hacker’s perspective, getting access to admin rights is like an open door into the corporate network. By having unrestricted admin rights you are essentially inviting malware into your organisation. By removing those rights you are closing that door and locking it, stopping unwanted intruders in their tracks.”

It is more important than ever for businesses to enhance their defenses by layering multiple proactive technologies and focus on preventing malware from executing in the first place, he added.

“This is opposed to being over reliant on detection based approaches, which are generally ineffective at dealing with advanced attacks.”

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