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 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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