[ISN] Average zero-day bug has 348-day lifespan, exec says

From: InfoSec News (alerts@private)
Date: Mon Jul 09 2007 - 23:14:48 PDT


By Sumner Lemon
July 09, 2007 
IDG News Service

The average zero-day (0day) bug has a lifespan of 348 days before it is 
discovered or patched, and some vulnerabilities live on for much longer, 
according to security vendor Immunity Inc.'s chief executive officer.

Zero-day bugs are vulnerabilities that have not been patched or made 
public. When discovered and not disclosed, these bugs can be used by 
hackers and criminals to break into corporate systems to steal or change 
data. As a result, there is a thriving market for zero-day bugs.

"Huge amounts of money are being offering to zero-day discoverers for 
their zero-days," said Justine Aitel, Immunity's CEO, speaking in 
Singapore at the SyScan '07 security conference.

Immunity, which buys but does not disclose zero-day bugs, keeps tabs on 
how long the bugs it buys last before they are made public or patched. 
While the average bug has a lifespan of 348 days, the shortest-lived 
bugs are made public in 99 days. Those with the longest lifespan remain 
undetected for 1,080 days, or nearly three years, Aitel said.

"Bugs die when they go public, and they die when they get patched," she 

To protect their data, security executives need to dig out the zero-day 
bugs in their systems, Aitel said, noting that this is an area most 
companies ignore.

Companies should conduct internal and external security assessments to 
dig out zero-day bugs, Aitel said, adding that security managers need to 
win and keep the support of their CEOs for these efforts. They also need 
to work closely with their corporate legal department to avoid breaking 
the terms of licensing agreements that may otherwise prevent them from 
examining software for zero-day bugs.

"Always assume everything has holes. It's the truth: it does," she said.

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