Older vulnerabilities for which patches have already been made available by the vendor are still the primary vehicle for cyberattacks, suggesting that organizations are still behind in practicing good cyber hygiene, according to new data from Tenable.
The Columbia, M.D.-based provider of vulnerability management software finds in its 2022 Threat Landscape Report that the number one group of most frequently exploited vulnerabilities are a large pool of known vulnerabilities, including some that date back to 2017. Organizations repeatedly failed to apply the vendor’s patches for these bugs, resulting in increasing attacks throughout last year.
According to Tenable, the top exploited vulnerabilities within this group included several older high-severity flaws in Microsoft Exchange, Zoho ManageEngine products and VPN solutions from Fortinet, Citrix and Pulse Secure.
Of course, Log4Shell, the critical remote code execution bug in Java logger Log4j discovered in December 2021, was among the most frequently exploited vulnerabilities in 2022, according to Tenable. Others included Follina, a remote code execution bug in the Microsoft Support Diagnostic Tool; an Atlassian Confluence Server and Data Center vulnerability; and ProxyShell, a chain of three vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Server.
In all of those cases, the vulnerabilities, mitigations and patches were highly publicized, and organizations had the ability to fix these issues immediately. In addition, four of the first five zero-day vulnerabilities exploited in the wild in 2022 were disclosed to the public on the same day the vendor released patches and mitigations, according to Tenable.
Bob Huber, chief security officer and head of research at Tenable, says in a statement that older, long-known vulnerabilities cause more destruction than new ones.
“Cyberattackers repeatedly find success exploiting these overlooked vulnerabilities to obtain access to sensitive information,” Huber says. “Numbers like these conclusively demonstrate that reactive post-event cybersecurity measures aren’t effective at mitigating risk. The only way to turn the tide is to shift to preventive security and exposure management.”
According to the report, older vulnerabilities in Fortinet FortiOS and Zoho ManageEngine were spotted in changed attacks with Log4Shell and various Exchange Server bugs. Tenable says it has been highlighting some of these bugs “for years,” and they are all listed in CISA’s catalog of Known Exploited Vulnerabilities.
The 2017 vulnerability listed in Tenable’s report is a memory corruption bug in Microsoft Office Equation Editor that has a CVSSv3 score of 7.8. Meanwhile, the report lists three 20178 bugs, a 3030 bug and three 2021 bugs as among the most actively exploited in 2022.
Read Tenable’s report for more information.
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