Government // Enterprise Architecture
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9/2/2010
08:41 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: IBM-Google Security Snafu Shows #1 Vulnerability Is Ignorance

IBM's ranking of software vendors by vulnerabilities is riddled with errors, so Google intervenes and goes from worst to first.

You would think that an organization committed to reporting lists of software-vendor security vulnerabilities—unpatched critical and high-risk bugs—would be unfailingly rigorous in its procedures and policies when compiling and distributing that information.

You would think that before crowning itself with a name like the "X-Force Team," such an organization would be brutally meticulous in avoiding incomplete information, imprecise methods, and anything else that could lead to inaccurate results.

You would think that a global IT powerhouse with IBM's reputation, resources, and credibility would never even think about getting into such a high-profile and high-stakes undertaking unless it the entire process, from end to end, was completely transparent and free of doubt, innuendo, and misinterpretation.

And you would be wrong, wrong, and wrong.

As it turns out, IBM's X-Force Team might well have carried out its work with nothing but the very best of intentions, but its processes in putting together its lists of software vendors with the highest number of vulnerabilities was itself plagued with flaws and shortcomings—what we might indeed call vulnerabilities.

All of this came to light this week after the IBM X-Force Team's mid-year list of highest-vulnerability software companies came out with Google at the very top of the list with an ugly showing of 33% of its critical and high-risk vulnerabilities unpatched. Any CIO looking at that would have to wonder what the heck was going on at Google, and would have to at least consider reevaluating the wisdom of expanding commitments to Google software.

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But as my colleague Kelly Jackson Higgins of our sister site Dark Reading points out in her news analysis of the mid-year list, it turns out that the X-Force Team's findings on Google were wildly off the mark and that instead of having failed to patch fully one-third of its vulnerabilities, Google in fact had absolutely zero such critical and high-risk bugs to fix in the first place!

But unfortunately the story gets worse:

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