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7/31/2007
03:32 PM
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Zero-Day Attacks Pose Most Critical Security Concern

Hackers came in second place, while malware and spyware grabbed a close third, according to a survey of IT managers by PatchLink.

A new survey of 250 CIOs, CSOs, IT managers, and network administrators across the United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific shows that zero-day vulnerabilities are the top security concern for 54% of them, according to PatchLink. Hackers come in second place, as the top concern for 35%, while malware and spyware grab a close third with 34%.

"The prospect of zero-day attacks is extremely troubling for organizations of all sizes," said Charles Kolodgy, research director at IDC, in a statement. "Today's financially motivated attackers are creating customized, sophisticated malware designed to exploit unpublished application vulnerabilities in specific applications before they can be fixed."

Kolodgy added that the problem with zero-day vulnerabilities is compounded by what he calls the ever-present human element. "User behavior is difficult to control, and many hackers rely on users' lapses in judgment to carry out their malicious activity," he said. "They also prey on the fact that many IT departments are spread thin and simply do not have the resources necessary to proactively defend against zero-day threats."

These zero-day concerns may be spurring IT and security managers to move more quickly when it comes to applying patches.

According to the PatchLink survey, 29% of organizations deployed critical updates within two hours this year, compared with just 14% last year. And 70% of IT managers completed fire-drill remediations within eight hours in 2007, compared with 39% during 2006.

The survey also showed that 99% of those surveyed said their organizations are as secure or more secure today than they were in 2006.

To combat the threats to their organizations, IT and security managers are employing more security tools than ever and spending more time monitoring them. Fifty percent said they have more than 10 agents installed to perform security and/or operations tasks, and 66% said they spend an hour or longer every day monitoring security and IT consoles, administrating agents, and updating security policies.

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