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Desktop Applications Summary

by Megan Daudelin
August 31, 2016

Monitoring desktop applications for vulnerabilities is essential to securing a network against exploitation. Desktop applications are essential to many computing tasks, and as a result are a common target for attackers. By leveraging vulnerability data gathered by Tenable Nessus, Tenable SecurityCenter is able to provide detailed insight into vulnerabilities related to desktop applications deployed in the environment.

The Desktop Applications Summary report provides insight into vulnerabilities associated with desktop applications that may expose an organization to increased risk of exploitation. Vulnerabilities related to various types of desktop applications are specifically tracked. Desktop applications are a requirement for many organizations, and as a result are often targeted for exploitation. By monitoring the network specifically for vulnerabilities in desktop applications, security teams can more effectively secure the network against exploitation and intrusion.

The elements in this report leverage data gathered by active vulnerability scanning with Nessus and passive vulnerability detection with Tenable Passive Vulnerability Scanner (PVS). The data collected is filtered to provide insight into the vulnerabilities related to desktop applications in the environment. Vulnerabilities are tracked by time, severity, and exploitability in order to provide a more complete view of the security status of the network. Security teams can use all of the elements in this report to assist in identifying, monitoring, and remediating vulnerabilities in desktop applications that may expose their organization to risk.

The report uses the Common Platform Enumeration (CPE) filter to identify many desktop applications. The CPE is used during software development as a way to identify unique applications and operating systems. According to NIST, the CPE is a structured naming scheme for information technology systems, software, and packages. Based upon the generic syntax for Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI), CPE includes a formal name format, a method for checking names against a system, and a description format for binding text and tests to a name. Tenable assigns CPE’s to plugins where appropriate. This allows for analysts to search for common CPE prefixes such as “cpe:/a:microsoft:word,” “cpe:/a:apple:mail,” and “cpe:/a:adobe:reader.” Associating CPE strings with vulnerabilities allow the analysts a greater view into separating operating system vulnerabilities from application vulnerabilities, and adds to the level of a vulnerability detail provided to the organization.

This report is available in the SecurityCenter Feed, a comprehensive collection of dashboards, reports, Assurance Report Cards, and assets. The report can be easily located in the SecurityCenter Feed under the category Threat Detection & Vulnerability Assessments. The report requirements are:

  • SecurityCenter 5.3.1
  • Nessus 6.8.1

Tenable SecurityCenter provides extensive network monitoring by leveraging a unique combination of detection, reporting, and pattern recognition utilizing industry recognized algorithms and models. SecurityCenter is continuously updated to detect advanced threats and vulnerabilities. Tenable constantly analyzes information from our unique sensors, delivering continuous visibility and critical context and enabling decisive action that transforms the security program from reactive to proactive. Continuous vulnerability analysis enables security teams to more effectively tailor remediation efforts. Monitoring the network to ensure that all systems are secured against vulnerabilities is essential to ongoing security efforts. Tenable’s extensive network monitoring capabilities can verify that systems are successfully scanned regularly and secured against vulnerabilities, enabling ongoing improvements to an organization’s security posture.

The following chapters are included in this report:

  • Executive Summary: This chapter provides a high-level overview of the vulnerability status of the environment as related to the desktop applications in use. Vulnerabilities are tracked by severity, vendor, and time in order to provide a broad understanding of desktop application vulnerabilities present in the network. Since desktop applications with access to the internet can be exploited as network entry points, vulnerabilities should be carefully monitored and remediated quickly.
  • Vulnerability Status at a Glance: This chapter provides insight into the specific vulnerabilities detected that are related to desktop applications. The following two tables provide lists of the vulnerabilities related to desktop applications detected in the past seven and thirty days. The tables list the plugin name, severity, and total count of relevant vulnerabilities detected. Security teams can use the tables to track the detection of new desktop application vulnerabilities.
  • Critical Vulnerability Information: The Criticals at a Glance table lists the critical vulnerabilities related to desktop applications detected in the environment. Relevant vulnerabilities with a critical severity level are shown to focus on the vulnerabilities that present the highest level of risk to the organization. For each vulnerability, the plugin name, severity, and family are listed. Security teams can use this component to identify and remediate the highest risk vulnerabilities in desktop applications.
  • Detailed Vulnerability Information: This chapter provides detailed information about desktop application vulnerabilities detected in the environment. Vulnerabilities are separated by vendor and analyzed in multiple ways in order to provide a thorough depiction of the vulnerabilities impacting the network. Each element in this chapter provides detailed information about the desktop application vulnerabilities that could impact the security of the organization.