The heavy tails of vulnerability exploitation

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5 Citaten (Scopus)


In this paper we analyse the frequency at which vulnerabilities are exploited in the wild by relying on data collected worldwide by Symantec’s sensors. Our analysis comprises 374 exploited vulnerabilities for a total of 75.7 Million recorded attacks spanning three years (2009-2012). We find that for some software as little as 5% of exploited vulnerabilities is responsible for about 95% of the attacks against that platform. This strongly skewed distribution is consistent for all considered software categories, for which a general take-away is that less than 10% of vulnerabilities account for more than 90% of the attacks (with the exception of pre-2009 Java vulnerabilities). Following these findings, we hypothesise vulnerability exploitation may follow a Power Law distribution. Rigorous hypothesis testing results in neither accepting nor rejecting the Power Law Hypothesis, for which further data collection from the security community may be needed. Finally, we present and discuss the Law of the Work-Averse Attacker as a possible explanation for the heavy-tailed distributions we find in the data, and present examples of its effects for Apple Quicktime and Microsoft Internet Explorer vulnerabilities.

Originele taal-2Engels
TitelEngineering Secure Software and Systems - 7th International Symposium, ESSoS 2015, Milan, Italy, March 4-6, 2015.Proceedings
RedacteurenF. Piessens, J. Caballero, N. Bielova
Plaats van productieDordrecht
Aantal pagina's16
ISBN van elektronische versie978-3-319-15618-7
ISBN van geprinte versie9783319156170
StatusGepubliceerd - 2015
Extern gepubliceerdJa
Evenement7th International Symposium on Engineering Secure Software and Systems (ESSoS 2015) - Milan, Italië
Duur: 4 mrt 20156 mrt 2015
Congresnummer: 7

Publicatie series

NaamLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
ISSN van geprinte versie03029743
ISSN van elektronische versie16113349


Congres7th International Symposium on Engineering Secure Software and Systems (ESSoS 2015)
Verkorte titelESSoS 2015


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