• Khushi Arora

Researchers Getting Faster at Locating App Flaws

According to a new report which investigated trends in industries’ Attacker Resistance Score (ARS) ratings, penetration testers needed only 18 hours to locate a vulnerability in targeted application, down from 21 hours in 2020.


Synack, a crowdsourced security platform that uses augmented intelligence to find and secure vulnerable applications, examined the ARS ratings of their customers from the following industries: government, healthcare, financial services, technology, e-commerce, retail, consulting/business & IT services, manufacturing/critical infrastructure, and state, local and education (SLED) organizations.


ARS ratings are “a proprietary measurement designed to provide unique and valuable insights into their level of risk.” The ARS rating ranges from 0 to 100 and quantifies the sum of attacker cost, which is the level of effort exerted by the researchers to find vulnerabilities, severity of findings, which is the severity of discovered vulnerabilities, and remediation efficiency, which is how efficiently an organization resolves identified issues. A higher ARS rating signifies that organizations are more resistant to attackers’ efforts.


Though the average ARS rating across all industries examined increased from 54 last year to 57 in 2021, 37% of vulnerabilities found by the researchers—the Synack Red Team—were considered high or critical. Additionally, there has been a 14% increase over the past two years in authorization and permission vulnerabilities, which allow attackers to access the most sensitive networks and systems.

The SLED and retail industry require attackers the least amount of time on average to find a vulnerability: 15 and 17 hours respectively. While government remains on the higher end—requiring 20 hours to locate a vulnerability—the sector dropped from 30 hours in 2020, which reflects a less resilient attacker surface. “Increasing the effort and time attackers need to find exploitable vulnerabilities is a critical way to deter malicious actors,” say researchers.


The Synack Red Team maintains that focusing on security earlier in the development process will help organizations harden their assets, increasing attacker cost, i.e., increase the time and resources required by attackers to locate vulnerabilities, as security teams would find and remediate vulnerabilities earlier in development.