Project Zero for Better Security

Google started Project Zero to study zero-day vulnerabilities in systems. They want to improve security and safety, at least from a software and hardware standpoint. Its mission is to make it more difficult to find and exploit issues in software. They published an update recently that showed vendors patching their software quicker, at least according to data from the last few years.

The metrics show a change in patching from an average of 80 days a few years ago to 52 days in 2021. There were also patches that missed the 90-day deadline, though only one missed the 90-day time and also a 14-day grace period. They are also trying to help with the understanding of how well vendors are adapting to new challenges. I hope this pressures and inspires smaller vendors and even individual organizations to take security more seriously.

I think that security is becoming *slightly* more important to vendors, especially as competition grows in any particular space. Vendors aren’t necessarily looking to spend time and energy where they don’t see a problem impacting revenue, but they do worry about customers abandoning their software, and a security issue is one reason for customers to look elsewhere. In the 2020s, there are plenty of customers that would consider changing software over security issues that don’t get fixed.

I saw another note that showed more and more hackers are exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities. Even if you think you have strong security, who knows when someone will misconfigure a firewall and expose your system. It’s worth staying up to date, at least within the last patch for your critical systems. I certainly consider a database a critical system, and I’d include helper databases like Redis and Elasticsearch as critical systems.

It’s easy to delay patching when nothing seems to be broken. However, patches are like oil changes. When the system lets you know that maintenance is overdue, it’s usually a catastrophic event.

I like the disclosure and openness of groups like Project Zero and hope they start to pressure more software developers (and project managers) to promote secure coding along with quick patches for vulnerabilities.

Steve Jones

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