Healthcare organisations beat average fix times on software risks

Veracode analysis reveals healthcare organisations fix application flaws faster than retailers and manufacturers

The healthcare sector is the fastest industry when it comes to addressing common vulnerabilities found in software.

Veracode’s global State of Software Security report (SoSS) found healthcare organisations took only six days to address a quarter of their vulnerabilities in code, and just seven months (216 days) to remediate the majority (75%) of vulnerabilities.

That’s almost eight months faster than the average organisation, which is taking 15 months (472 days) to fix 75% of its vulnerabilities.

The sensitive data held by healthcare organisations is a significant target for evolving threats.

It takes just a little over seven months for healthcare organisations to reach the final quartile of open vulnerabilities, about eight months sooner than it takes the average organisation to reach the same landmark

And a focus on code quality can help healthcare organisations shift from a reactive security stance to a pro-active one.

According to the findings, a significant 64% of current applications used by healthcare organisations are at risk of information leakage attacks, wherein an application reveals sensitive data that can be used by an attacker to exploit a web application or its users.

Cryptographic issues (62%) and code quality (60%) round out the top three vulnerabilities facing healthcare organisations and provide areas of focus for improvement within the NHS and other agencies.

Healthcare organisations are perceived to be behind the times with technology and have larger installations of legacy software.

However, Veracode’s analysis shows healthcare companies are not hindered in staying on top of application security.

The sector ranks highest for the latest scan OWASP pass rate, and based on the flaw persistence analysis chart, the industry is statistically closing the window on application risk faster than any other sector.

 The report also studied vulnerability remediation in retail, technology, public sector, infrastructure, finance and manufacturing.

“Healthcare organisations are remediating at the most-rapid rate at every interval compared to their peers”, said Paul Farrington, EMEA chief technology officer at Veracode.

It shows remarkable resilience for an industry which was heavily targeted and badly damaged during the WannaCry ransomware attack two years ago

“It takes just a little over seven months for healthcare organisations to reach the final quartile of open vulnerabilities, about eight months sooner than it takes the average organisation to reach the same landmark.

“It shows remarkable resilience for an industry which was heavily targeted and badly damaged during the WannaCry ransomware attack two years ago.

“However, millions of cyber attacks are aimed at the healthcare sector each day, seeking any weak spot. Using code that is secure from the start can help healthcare reduce security risk further.”

The NHS recently announced that it is undertaking an IT overhaul using cloud-based, modern systems and improving security.

With this in mind, developers and security professionals in healthcare need to focus on building on this ‘first place for fixes’ position and pursue DevSecOps models of frequent, incremental software scanning, said Farrington.

“This will ensure they are able to remediate application flaws even more quickly and efficiently,” he added.

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