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Third-Party Bundling Made IBM Products Most Vulnerable: Study

Reports Shows Many IBM Products Vulnerable Due to Bundling

Vulnerability intelligence company Secunia has released a new report summarizing security vulnerabilities disclosed between August and October 2014.

This year, the total number of vulnerabilities increased by 40% compared to 2013. According to Secunia's report released Monday, a total of 1,841 flaws were uncovered over the three-month period in the top 20 most vulnerable products.

The largest number of security bugs disclosed was in Google Chrome: 64 in August, 17 in September, and 162 in October.

Third Part Software Vulnerabilities in IBM ProductsIn August, numerous vulnerabilities were also reported in Oracle Solaris (58), EMC RSA Archer GRC (41), and various IBM products. In September, Apple's OS X topped the chart with 59 flaws, followed by VMware Center Server (43), Internet Explorer (38), VMware vSphere Update Manager (37), and Adobe Flash Player (24). In October, Chrome was followed by the Avant Browser (159) and iTunes (83).

In the three-month period covered in the report, the vendor with the most vulnerable products was IBM. This is largely due to the fact that the company's products are bundled with third-party software such as Java and OpenSSL.

"That these programs are bundled within the individual IBM product means that every single time a vulnerability is discovered and a patch released for e.g. Java, the corresponding IBM products needs to be updated, too. First by IBM, and then by all IBM customers," Secunia noted in its report. "Anyone running IBM products knows that in the weeks and months following an Oracle Patch Day, they need to get busy patching their IBM applications. All in all, a very time consuming process."

IBM did not respond to a request for comment.

The report also highlights the relation between publicity and patches. Shortly after the existence of the OpenSSL bug known as Heartbleed came to light, 100 vendors released patches for 600 affected products within 40 days. Two months later, another series of OpenSSL flaws were disclosed and vendors once again rushed to patch their solutions. In the following weeks, other OpenSSL vulnerabilities were found to plague a total of 200 products, but security updates were not released for many of them.

"When Take 3 happened, the media had lost interest – and with the hype gone, less than 20 vendors took the time to disclose and patch some 50 products. 100 days in, the number of affected products is at 75. Consequently, not only are there products that are vulnerable and unpatched because of 'OpenSSL Take 3', but they are also undisclosed. And that is really bad!" Secunia noted.

Secunia's Vulnerability Update report is available online.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.