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Survey: Widespread Inability to Remediate App Vulnerabilities

Survey: Widespread Inability to Remediate App Vulnerabilities

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A survey of 621 IT and security professionals published this week found only 20% are confident in their ability to detect a vulnerability before an application is released.

Conducted by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of Security Journey, a provider of cybersecurity training services for developers, the survey finds 61% struggling to remediate vulnerabilities effectively, with 55% blaming misalignment between development, security and compliance teams for delays.

A third of respondents (33%) said teams lacked a common view of applications and assets, with 38% acknowledging they lack the ability to hold departments accountable for patching applications. Only 11% of organizations believed they patch vulnerabilities effectively in a timely manner, the survey finds.

In the 12 months prior to the study, 54% of respondents suffered a security incident due to an unpatched vulnerability, with 51% experiencing more than eight incidents.

Overall, half (50%) admitted they fail to test the security of their applications after they have been released. Only 36% specifically teach developers to write secure code. Just one-fifth (21%) educated developers on vulnerability remediation. Less than half (43%) have invested in training provided by a third party.

When training is provided, 68% of respondents also admitted immediate feedback is not provided and less than half (47%) said secure coding training is customized to meet developer needs. Half (50%) of those who provided training have no formal assessment to measure knowledge gain, the survey found.

Amy Baker, chief marketing officer and security education evangelist for Security Journey, said the survey makes it clear much work still needs to be done in terms of teaching developers how to write secure code.

In addition, too many software development teams are overly optimistic about their ability to remediate known vulnerabilities the next time they plan to update an application, said Baker. Many developers move on to the next application simply because either the pressure to meet delivery deadlines is too intense or there is some other emerging technology, such as large language models (LLMs), that needs to be learned, she added. In fact, too many organizations are far too focused on the rate at which applications are built and deployed at the expense of cybersecurity, Baker noted.

That’s especially problematic because cybercriminals have become much more adept at monitoring application deployments and updates, she added.

The amount of time between when code is deployed and when cybercriminals begin scanning it for vulnerabilities is now measured in hours rather than days. Developers, unfortunately, are deploying more insecure code than ever. In fact, much of that code is insecure by design, noted Baker.

Overall, nearly half of respondents (48%) only train developers annually, bi-annually or when an incident occurs. More than two-thirds (68%) only train developers on how to implement secure coding practices to meet compliance requirements. In effect, because developers are not taught security in school, what training they do receive is on the job, said Baker.

Clearly, there is still much work to be done when it comes to implementing DevSecOps best practices to improve application security. In the meantime, the amount of code that needs to be patched has already reached proportions that most application development teams are never going to be able to effectively address.