Black Hat: new operating systems security metric

Black Hat: new operating systems security metric
Black Hat: new operating systems security metric 

Heise Online

At the Black Hat Security Conference [1] currently taking place in 
Amsterdam, researchers from the Zurich ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of 
Technology) have reported a new model for determining the security of 
operating systems. They don't just count the number of holes and how 
critical they are, but also determine what they call the zero-day patch 
rate. This indicates the ability of a vendor to make a patch available 
on the day a vulnerability becomes known. In order to stay independent 
of vendor information, they looked at many independent sources including 
Secunia, Milw0rm, The Open Source Vulnerability Database (OSVDB), 
National Vulnerability Database (NVD) and CVE.

Stefan Frei, Bernard Tellenbach and Bernhard Plattner of the 
Communications Systems Group of the ETH explain their method in "0-Day 
patch - Exposing Vendors (In)Security Performance" [2] (PDF file) using 
Microsoft and Apple operating systems as examples. They base their 
assessments on experience over the last six years. In addition to the 
zero-day patch rate, the authors also graph the availability of patches 
30, 90 and 180 days after a vulnerability becomes known. It appears that 
both Microsoft and Apple take longer to provide a patch in the run-up to 
the issue of a new version of their operating system or a service pack. 
These releases evidently tie up substantial resources, which are less 
available for developing patches.

The researchers come to the further conclusion that the number of 
Microsoft's open vulnerabilities has now stabilised, whereas the trend 
is the other way round with Apple. Apple has in fact already overtaken 
Microsoft, averaging a greater number of open vulnerabilities. The 
researchers say the results do not support the widespread assumption 
that Apple computers are naturally more secure. The latest Apple update 
[3] for Mac OS X eliminated 46 vulnerabilities, 13 of them in the Safari 
browser alone.


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