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July 13, 2010

Apple Tops Secunia Vulnerability Ranking

Secunia’s 2010 Half Year report has found that the total number of vulnerabilities discovered so far this year already matches the number of vulnerabilities found in all of 2009. One key aspect of the report is that Secunia has seen the focus of vulnerabilities shifting away from the operating system, and onto third-party applications. This makes sense as third party apps is where more of the ‘low-hanging fruit’ will reside, making them a more worthy target to hackers and security researchers. According to the report, Apple tops the vendor list in number of vulnerabilities discovered so far this year (click on the graphic below to enlarge).

Vulnerabilities by Vendor (Source: Secunia 2010)

Looking at the statistics on Secunia’s site, I’m actually tempted to say that the number of vulnerabilities in Apple’s products are probably on a decent downward trend (based on the release of patches). Apple’s rise to the top of Secunia’s table is most probably due to an increased focus on Apple products (Mac OS X, Safari, iOS) in the past three years or so. The recent popularity of the company’s products has led to more research by those in the security industry, leading to an inevitable rise in the number of discovered vulnerabilities. The same would happen to any company who suddenly got the attention of the security industry (apart from Microsoft whose attention tends to remain more or less stable).

In some ways Apple being at the top of the list may be a good thing for it. I don’t see this as saying that users of Apple’s products are inherently less secure than other vendors. Market-share argument aside, we’ve yet to see any vulnerability being exploited in any significant way. I do believe that Apple needs to focus a bit more on security prior to releasing updates, and would probably benefit from fuzzing their own software for a while. The company could also be a bit more responsive in releasing security updates, but since security updates were de-coupled from the not-so-regular OS updates this has already improved somewhat.

All in all, not much to get hyped up about… yet. For further reading, check out my post on Understanding Apple’s approach to security.

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