Software Vulnerability Exploitation

Popularity:

8

Simplicity:

5

Impact:

10

Risk Rating:

8

An even greater threat than the stream of hardware drivers steadily being compromised by attackers is the unending and immeasurable quantity of software vulnerabilities identified and released daily that pour forth through RSS feeds to the desktops of security professionals and attackers alike. Unfortunately, the alarming rate at which software vulnerabilities are identified, made public, and included in Metasploit is undoubtedly dwarfed by the number of vulnerabilities and underground exploits that are identified but not made public—a disturbing thought.

This unfortunate reality has given birth to entire suites of tools that streamline and simplify the process of discovering and exploiting software and driver/module vulnerabilities. One notable tool suite (Metasploit) reduces the process of exploiting identified vulnerabilities down to the script-kiddie or grandmother level of expertise. Metasploit and other (less functional) tools assist hackers (and grandmothers) at all skill levels in exploiting software vulnerable to buffer overflow attacks, with poor input validation, or susceptible to other sloppy coding-related attacks.

The chief contributing factor to critical vulnerabilities and remote code execution exploits is poorly designed, sloppily coded, and undertested software. Unfortunately no software company can release perfect code to the general public. Any software of significant complexity will always have some vulnerability, regardless of developers talents and the company's efforts.

Software is designed for a particular purpose and quality assurance (QA) is generally done to assure that the software meets its intended functions within narrowly defined parameters. QA does not focus on, and can never fully explore, all the possible misuses of software and everything that can go wrong in its execution. Furthermore, most QA environments do not focus any resources on identifying and mitigating ways that software could be misused and/or abused.

Additionally, if perfect code were a requirement, software would never be released. Besides, if the first version were perfect, the company could never sell you an upgrade.

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