Saturday, June 15, 2024

Report: Java is the language that’s most prone to third-party vulnerabilities

Software DevelopmentReport: Java is the language that’s most prone to third-party vulnerabilities

According to Datadog’s State of DevSecOps 2024 report, 90% of Java services have at least one or more critical or higher severity vulnerabilities. 

This is compared to around 75% for JavaScript services, 64% for Python, and 50% for .NET. The average for all languages studied was 47%

The company found that Java services are also more likely to be actively exploited compared to other languages. Fifty-five percent have suffered from this, compared to a 7% average for other languages.

Datadog believes this may be due to the fact that there are many prevalent vulnerabilities in popular Java libraries, such as Tomcat, Spring Framework, Apache Struts, Log4j, and ActiveMQ. 

“The hypothesis is reinforced when we examine where these vulnerabilities typically originate. In Java, 63 percent of high and critical vulnerabilities derive from indirect dependencies— i.e., third-party libraries that have been indirectly packaged with the application. These vulnerabilities are typically more challenging to identify, as the additional libraries in which they appear are often introduced into an application unknowingly,” Datadog wrote in the report.

The company says this serves as a reminder that developers need to consider the full dependency tree when scanning for application vulnerabilities, not just the direct dependencies.

The second major finding of the report is that the largest number of exploitation attempts is done by automated security scanners, but that most of those attacks aren’t harmful and are just a source of noise for companies trying to defend against attacks.

Only 0.0065 percent of attacks performed by automated security scanners actually triggered vulnerabilities. 

Given the prevalence of these attacks but their harmlessness, Datadog believes this underscores the need for a good system for prioritizing alerts. 

According to the report, over 4,000 high and 1,000 critical vulnerabilities were discovered by the CVE project last year. However, research published in the Journal of Cybersecurity in 2020 found that only 5 percent of vulnerabilities are ever actually exploited. 

“Given these numbers, it’s easy to see why practitioners are overwhelmed with the amount of vulnerabilities they face, and why they need prioritization frameworks to help them focus on what matters,” Datadog wrote. 

Datadog found that organizations who have made efforts to address their critical vulnerabilities have success in removing them. Sixty-three percent of organizations that had a critical CVE at one point no longer have any, and 30% have seen the number of critical vulnerabilities reduced by half.  

The company recommends that organizations prioritize vulnerabilities based on if the impacted service is publicly exposed, the vulnerability is running in production, or there is publicly available code for the exploit. 

“While other vulnerabilities might still carry risk, they should likely be addressed only after issues that meet these three criteria,” Datadog wrote. 

Other interesting findings in Datadog’s report are that lightweight container images lead to fewer vulnerabilities, adoption of infrastructure as code is high, manual cloud deployments are still widespread, and usage of short-lived credentials in CI/CD pipelines is still low.

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