Data suggests that 99% of successful cyber attacks involve and will continue to involve vulnerabilities that cybersecurity professionals know of for at least a year. As we move towards rapid digital transformation, we have 2 million+ apps available for downloads and we write more than 111 billion lines of software code each year. The speed at which new apps, software, and websites are created is generating a massive increase in the number of vulnerabilities available for attackers to exploit. Many of these vulnerabilities cannot be immediately remediated/ fixed and it is in this context that virtual patching comes in handy.
Virtual patching is a short-term, quick development and emergency implementation of security policies. It provides a security layer enforcement to ensure that attackers cannot exploit the known vulnerability. Virtual patching, also known as external patching and just-in-time patching, neither modifies the source code nor fixes the underlying vulnerability. It only provides a layer of security by analyzing the web traffic, intercepting attacks in transit, and blocking malicious actors and bad requests from exploiting the vulnerabilities. It essentially acts as a shield between the traffic and the application, and if effective, prevents attacks from occurring.
Common questions that arise are:
Why not just fix the code, instead of virtual patching? Is it that difficult to fix the code or release a patch?
In fact, it is. Data suggests that it takes anywhere between 50 and 140 days to fix/ remediate even critical and high-risk vulnerabilities. Leaving vulnerabilities unprotected for such a long time is like serving the attackers with the opportunity to attack the website/ application on a golden platter. There are also other reasons why vulnerabilities cannot be fixed/ remediated immediately.
Virtual patching is valuable and critical in such scenarios. It shields the vulnerabilities externally and protects the application/ website from attacks, giving organizations and developers time to fix the vulnerability.
In today’s dynamic environment where keeping up with growing numbers of vulnerabilities is challenging, virtual patching is a lifesaver. However, it is important to remember that these are emergency solutions to reduce risk and not an actual solution. Virtual patching needs to be part of a comprehensive and managed security solution such as AppTrana to ensure a robust security posture.