Software vulnerabilities are on the decline, according to new Synopsys research


Synopsys, Inc. has published the 2023 Software Vulnerability Snapshot report.
According to the data, analysed by Synopsys Cybersecurity Research Center (CyRC), there has been a significant decrease in vulnerabilities found in target applications – from 97% in 2020 to 83% in 2022 – an encouraging sign that code reviews, automated testing and continuous integration are helping to reduce common programming errors.

The report details three years of data (2020 - 2022) derived from tests run by Synopsys Security Testing Services, with targets made up of web applications, mobile applications, network systems and source code. Tests are designed to probe running applications as a real-world attacker would, incorporating multiple security testing techniques including penetration (pen) testing, dynamic application security testing (DAST), mobile application security testing (MAST) and network security testing.
Although this is a positive development for the industry, the data also demonstrates that relying on a single security testing solution such as static application security testing (SAST) is no longer sufficient as an approach. For example, server misconfigurations represented an average of 18% of the total vulnerabilities found in the three years of tests. 
Without a multilayered security approach that combines SAST to identify coding flaws, DAST to examine running applications, SCA to identify vulnerabilities introduced by third-party components, and penetration testing to identify issues that might have been missed by internal testing, these types of vulnerabilities will likely go unchecked.
"For the first time in years, we’re seeing a decrease in the number of known vulnerabilities in software, which provides new hope that organisations are taking security seriously and prioritising a strategic and holistic approach to software security in order to make a lasting impact,” said Jason Schmitt, general manager of the Synopsys Software Integrity Group. 
“As hackers have become more sophisticated, a multilayered security approach is needed more than ever to identify where software risks live and protect businesses from being exploited.”
Additional findings include

  • High-severity vulnerabilities are less likely: On average over the past three years, 92% of the tests uncovered some form of vulnerability. However, only 27% of those tests contained high-severity vulnerabilities, and 6.2% contained critical-severity vulnerabilities.
  • Leaked information continues to be a top risk: The top security issue that was uncovered has remained unchanged from 2020 to 2022 – information leakage, a major security issue occurring when sensitive information is exposed to unauthorised parties. An average of 19% of the total vulnerabilities were directly related to information leakage issues.
  • Cross-site scripting is on the rise: Of all high-risk vulnerabilities found in 2022, 19% were found to be susceptible to cross-site scripting attacks.
  • Third-party software poses increased risks: Among the top 10 security issues in 2022, 25% of the tests conducted found vulnerable third-party libraries to be a risk. Software is likely vulnerable if you do not know the versions of all components in use, including third-party and open source components.

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