Open source software fired into IBM top-10 vulnerability list

Open source software has emerged for the first time in a top ten list of products to face major vulnerabilities.

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Open source software has emerged for the first time in a top ten list of products to face major vulnerabilities.

Open source software names such as Joomla!, Drupal, WordPress and Linux are now alongside large proprietary software firms including IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Sun, Cisco, and Oracle in the IBM Internet Security Systems ‘Midyear Trend Statistics’ report.

It is the first time that community-developed open source software such as the Drupal and Joomla! content-management software packages for the web also showed up on the list. Tom Cross, X-Force researcher at IBM ISS, said Drupal and Joomla! are open source packages that "have both been vulnerable to SQL injection attacks".

The report tracked 3,534 disclosed vulnerabilities in software for the first half of the year, a 5 percent increase from the first half of 2007.

According to another report, Websense’s ‘State of Internet Security Q1-Q2’, the situation regarding compromised websites is becoming dire.

Stephan Chenette, manager of the Websense Security Labs, said: "Sixty percent of the 100 most-popular websites have been hosting malicious code or inadvertently distributing it.” He added: "75 percent of malicious websites in general are actually legitimate websites that are compromised."

Some popular websites inadvertently hosting malicious code during the last half included CNET.com, MSNBC.com and News.com, Chenette says. "We've seen malicious code on Yahoo.com, Excite.com and Pearl.com, which is popular with developers. We've seen banner ads, which can be purchased on Yahoo, used for malicious code."

Blog sites, such as Google blogspot, have become popular spots to post malware, and social-networking sites Facebook, MySpace and YouTube have been tarnished by postings of malicious content as well. This first half of 2008 saw spammers develop tools for beating the CAPTCHA web security mechanism to prevent automated posting of content, Websense states in its report.

Another disturbing trend, according to IBM ISS, is that exploit code for vulnerable software is being publicly disclosed more frequently than it was in the past.

According to IBM, 95 percent of all browser-related online exploits occurred within 24 hours of official vulnerability disclosure. Though some researchers differ on the matter, IBM ISS says it does not favour publishing exploit code for discovered vulnerabilities because it can accelerate criminal activity.

Perhaps the only good news to be found in security in the first half of this year, according to both IBM and Websense, is that image spam, a huge problem last year, has declined significantly and the size of spam e-mail has gone down.

"It appears the filters are working," Cross says, noting that about 90 percent of spam is now URL spam, forcing spammers "to go back to basics."

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