Security Experts:

Study: 8 of 10 Web Apps Would Fail a PCI Audit

State of Software Security Report Evaluates Security of Web Applications

A fascinating – and alarming – new report released by Veracode based on 2,922 applications submitted to the company for analysis indicates that eight out of ten web applications would not pass a PCI audit for lack of compliance with the OWASP Top 10 industry standard for security quality.

Web Application Security

Taking a broader view, 57 percent of all the applications submitted failed to meet acceptable levels of security. Fifty-six percent of finance-related applications failed upon first submission to Veracode’s testing service. Government applications did best overall, with a first submission failure rate of 43 percent.

Cross-site scripting remains prevalent, accounting for 51 percent of all vulnerabilities uncovered in the testing process.

The applications submitted came from large and small companies, commercial software providers, open source projects, and software outsourcers. Cloud /web applications were the most requested third-party assessments, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all third-party assessments requested.

Third Party Code Cited

Third-party code, the culprit behind Operation Aurora, Siemens Stuxnet, is clearly the villain of the report, failing to achieve acceptable levels of security 81% of the time. This number has added importance because, upon analysis, a high percentage of code categorized as “internally developed” in fact contains third-party components. Veracode found as much as 76% of code submitted as internally developed was identifiably from third-parties, most often in the form of open source components and commercial shared libraries and components. Furthermore, there was a “nesting effect” as third-party components themselves often contained other third-party components.

Perhaps in response to this situation, third-party assessments (similar to having a pre-purchase home inspection) are among the fastest growing types of assessments requested of Veracode – a sign that organizations are taking increased responsibility for managing risk within their software supply chain.

The Veracode designation of “unacceptable” is based on an algorithm that essentially takes two factors into account: the vulnerabilities (their number and nature) and the criticality of the applications, which range over five levels from very high (where the safety of life or limb is dependent on the system) to very low, where a security breach would have no material impact on the organization.

The report did have one bright spot. Security flaws are being repaired faster than ever before, with the average repair time (time to achieve an acceptable level of security) decreasing from between 36 to 82 days down to 16 days on average.

The Veracode State of Software Security Report, Volume 2, can be downloaded here

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