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Banks increase security risks with software flaws that aren’t tackled

January 2019 by Veracode

Veracode’s latest State of Software Security report (SoSS) revealed financial services is one of the slowest industries to address common vulnerabilities found in its software. The global report found financial services companies required 29 days to address a quarter of their vulnerabilities in coding, and more than a year – 574 days – to remediate all open vulnerabilities. It also ranked second-to-last of all sectors in terms of speed to remediate flaws.

Significantly, 67 percent of applications used by banks are at risk from information leakage attacks, wherein an application reveals sensitive data that an attacker can use to exploit a web application or its users. This is concerning given the fact that global financial institutions are consistently a favourite target of attackers. Cryptographic issues (63 percent) and code quality issues (51 percent) are also among the top vulnerabilities in the financial sector.

In Veracode’s SoSS report, an analysis of 70,000 application scans of its customers over a 12-month period, the largest population of applications scanned came from the financial vertical. While financial organisations tend to have the reputation of having some of the most mature overall cybersecurity practices, Veracode’s data shows they struggle like the rest to stay on top of application security.

The industry ranked second to last across eight verticals for latest scan OWASP pass rate. Based on flaw persistence analysis – how long flaws remain open after discovery – it is leaving coding flaws to linger longer than other industries. However, the data also indicates a promising trend: while the banking sector addresses the first half of its open flaws slowly, it starts to pick up speed once it passes the halfway point.

“Since financial institutions and banks hold highly valuable information and critical assets, they will continue to be a target of cybercriminals and malicious hacking,” said Paul Farrington, Director of EMEA and APJ at Veracode. “Our data shows the financial services sector scanning a huge volume of applications and finding flaws that need fixing. While that is encouraging, the next frontier is achieving greater speed in fixing those flaws because speed matters. The speed at which organisations fix flaws they discover in their code directly mirrors the level of risk incurred by applications. The sector should consider all dimensions of risk to prioritise which flaws to fix first.”

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