German firms take the crown for speedy patching of cyber vulnerabilities

A survey of 200 UK and 200 German organisations, conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Tenable Network Security, Inc., the leader in continuous network monitoring, has found that UK organisations are not as quick to react to potential cyber vulnerabilities as their German counterparts.

Twenty-nine per cent of UK organisations said they could patch significant vulnerabilities, such as ShellShock and Heartbleed, within an hour, compared to 48 per cent of German organisations. To detect new software installed by users on the organisation’s systems, UK respondents said it would take an average of 40 hours, while German respondents reported taking just 17 hours.

“This is significant because with bugs and malware, time really is of the essence. Once they’re publicised, the bad guys are working just as quickly to exploit them as the good guys are working to fix them,” said Gavin Millard, technical director, Tenable Network Security. “If you think back to when ShellShock was revealed in September last year, within hours attackers had created botnets of compromised computers to launch attacks, with millions of attacks and probes related to the bug recorded in the days after.

"For the 22 per cent of UK organisations in our study that said it would take between a day and a month to find and fix vulnerabilities, that’s a long time to have a chink in your defences.”

According to Millard, only 11 per cent of German organisations surveyed admitted to taking so long to patch vulnerabilities.

Looking at the survey’s findings a little closer, five per cent of UK organisations confessed that they didn’t actually have the ability to detect new software installed on systems in the organisation [Germany: one per cent]. And when it comes to unauthorised devices that may connect to the infrastructure, seven per cent of UK people surveyed said that they wouldn’t be alerted at all [Germany: one per cent]. Once again, the German respondents were ahead of the UK, taking an average of 10 hours to discover unauthorised devices, compared to 15 hours in the UK.

"The new reality presented by risks from unauthorised devices and software is that, for many, the threat is now in the pockets, on the wrists or in the laptop bags of everyone and are carried into corporate offices every day,” said Millard. “Breaches often occur not by some complex and esoteric method, but more through the lack of foundational controls working well to identify weaknesses and addressing them quickly and effectively.

"Ensuring vulnerable systems are identified and patched in a timely manner, systems are configured to be secure, user and network access controls are sound and finally malware defence is deployed and up to date, will reduce the risk of data loss.

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