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Veracode Reveals Critical Security Debt can be Reduced by 75% with Speed of Remediation

February 2024 by Veracode

unveils its annual
of Software Security (SoSS)
2024 report, shedding light on the pressing issue of security debt in applications. Security debt, defined for this report as flaws that remain unfixed for longer than a year, exists in 42 percent of applications and 71 percent of organizations. Worryingly, 46 percent
of organizations have persistent, high-severity flaws that constitute ’critical’ security debt, putting businesses at serious risk in terms of impact on confidentiality, integrity, and availability.

According to the report, approximately 63 percent of applications have flaws in first-party code, while 70 percent contain flaws in third-party code imported via third-party libraries.
This highlights the importance of testing both types throughout the software development life cycle. Remediation rates also vary by flaw type—fixing third-party flaws takes 50 percent longer, with half the known flaws fixed after 11 months, compared to seven
months for first-party flaws.

There is good news, however: high-severity security flaws in applications have decreased by half since 2016, indicating progress in software security practices and that speed of
remediation has a material impact on critical security debt.

SoSS 2024 reveals development teams that fix flaws the fastest reduce critical security debt by 75 percent—from 22.4 percent of applications to just over five percent. Moreover,
these fast-acting teams are four times less likely to let critical security
debt materialize in their applications in the first place.

Chris Eng, Chief Research Officer at Veracode, said, "While we continue to see improvements in the security landscape, these findings are a wake-up call for organizations to address
their security debt head-on. By prioritizing flaw remediation, focusing on third-party code security, and adopting efficient development practices, organizations can significantly reduce their security debt and enhance the overall state of software security
across the board."

Addressing AI and the Software Supply Chain

In an era where AI (artificial intelligence) is rapidly revolutionizing software development, the report highlights a concerning trend. Chris said, "Despite the speed and efficiency
AI brings to software development, it does not necessarily produce code that’s secure. Research has shown that
percent of code generated by GitHub CoPilot contains security flaws." This proliferation of insecure code at scale poses a significant risk to organizations
and the software supply chain, leading to the accumulation of security debt over time.

Risk Prioritization is Key

Veracode’s research also found remediation capacity among teams to be constrained, with only 64 percent of applications having a remediation capacity that’s sufficient to eliminate
critical security debt. In fact, only two out of ten applications show an average
monthly fix rate that exceeds ten percent of all security flaws. This suggests,
even in cases where teams’ fix capacity is
sufficient, they are not prioritizing critical flaws.

Despite this, there is hope for success. Only three percent of all flaws constitute critical security debt, and this subset
represents the largest risk exposure for applications. By prioritizing that
three percent, organizations can achieve maximum risk reduction with focused

Chris closed, "AI also paves the way for a new frontier in software security by empowering organizations to scale remediation efforts and more easily address the long backlog of
security debt, as well as new flaws that emerge. The vast majority of CWEs (Common Weakness Enumeration) with a severity rating from medium to very high can be addressed through AI-generated code edits from

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