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An intelligence deficit in vulnerability management is causing real issues with more users understanding they had issues before they ended up breached, a new report found.

With more vulnerabilities found every year, it has become more difficult for organizations to effectively prioritize security holes that expose their networks, according to a report by security provider, Tenable.

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The company analyzed flaws discovered last year and in the first half of this year.

Tenable counted all the common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE) identifiers assigned last year and discovered 15,038 new flaws, compared to 9,837 in 2016, a 50 percent increase. On top of that, there has been an increase of 27 percent in the number of vulnerabilities disclosed in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period of 2017.

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In 2017, over half of the vulnerabilities rated “critical” or “high severity” – CVSSv3 assigns higher scores to flaws compared to CVSSv2. However, exploits were only made public for 7 percent of the total and only a small subset of those were actually weaponized and exploited by malicious actors.

Enterprises discover 870 unique vulnerabilities per day, including newly discovered flaws and unpatched issues previously disclosed, according to Tenable. Of all the vulnerabilities discovered so far, 12 percent have been rated “critical,” which means organizations have to deal with roughly 100 weaknesses per day even if they prioritize only the most serious findings.

“Trying to remediate and mitigate all disclosed vulnerabilities, even when prioritizing high and critical vulnerabilities, is an exercise in futility, as our data shows,” Tenable said in its report. “The reality is, for most vulnerabilities, a working exploit is never developed. And, of those, an even smaller subset is actively weaponized and employed by threat actors.”

The company found a quarter of all 107,000 CVEs assigned until October 2018 impact enterprise environments and nearly two-thirds of the vulnerabilities found by enterprises are “high severity” or “critical.”

The security holes most commonly found in enterprises impact software from Microsoft, Google, Oracle, and Adobe, including the .NET Framework, Chrome, Java, Internet Explorer, Flash Player and Outlook. More than a quarter of enterprises are also exposed to attacks due to issues related to SSL.

“Managing vulnerabilities at volume and scale across different teams requires actionable intelligence. Otherwise, we’re not making informed decisions – we’re guessing,” Tenable researchers said in the report. “An intelligence deficit in vulnerability management is causing real-world implications – with 34 percent of breached organizations stating they were aware of the vulnerability that led to their breach before it happened. The problem is we have too much information and not enough intelligence. Turning information into intelligence requires interpretation and analysis – something that doesn’t scale easily. The solution lies in operationalizing intelligence based on your organization’s unique characteristics – your most critical digital assets and vulnerabilities.”

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