By Robert Jaques
14 May 2007
Almost a third of UK organisations have unpatched critical
vulnerabilities compromising their IT security, new research warned
However, the NTA Monitor 2007 Annual Security Report also revealed that
the number of vulnerable firms has fallen compared to 2006, when some 61
per cent were open to attack.
The report analyses data gathered from vulnerability tests conducted by
NTA on UK companies in a wide range of industry sectors, including
charities, education, finance, government, IT, law and retail.
Although the number of tests exposing vulnerabilities that may enable
external users to gain unauthorised system access or disrupt service
availability has almost halved, the picture is not bright for everyone.
While improvements in overall security have been achieved by most
industry sectors, publishing and finance have seen an increase in the
average number of vulnerabilities found per test.
For financial institutions, the average number of risks increased by 16
per cent year on year, while publishing saw an increase of 28 per cent.
Roy Hills, technical director at NTA Monitor, said: "There are a variety
of ways of causing denial-of-service attacks, one of which occurs when a
server is bombarded with more information than it can handle, resulting
in legitimate users being unable to access or use the network.
"Other security flaws that our testing discovered could permit hackers
to gain entry to corporate networks and change user passwords or delete
files, which could wreak corporate havoc."
Of the 10 most commonly occurring critical vulnerabilities, seven were
found in last year's report, indicating that these same issues continue
to take their toll.
All of the top 10 high risk flaws are associated with services being
made available to internet users, demonstrating that with increased
functionality comes the threat of reduced security.
NTA Monitor recommends that companies:
* Stay up to date on the latest vulnerabilities and apply patches and
updates as soon as they become available
* Allocate sufficient management time, focus and control to ensure that
preventative actions are carried out on an ongoing basis
* Involve and educate staff on internet security issues
* Have a clear and up to date security policy, and publicise and update
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