Google Analysis of Zero-Days Exploited in 2019 Finds 'Detection Bias'

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Google Project Zero last week released a report on the vulnerabilities exploited in attacks in 2019, and its researchers have drawn some interesting conclusions regarding the detection of zero-days.

Google Project Zero has been tracking vulnerabilities exploited in the wild since 2014 and last year it made available a spreadsheet showing the flaws it has tracked.

The first “Year in Review” report shows that in 2019 there were 20 vulnerabilities that were found to be exploited in the wild, although Project Zero pointed out that these were only the security holes that were detected by the industry, and the actual number of new zero-days exploited last year was likely higher.

While 11 of the 20 flaws impact Microsoft products — this is five times more compared to Apple and Google products — Project Zero noted that this percentage shows that Microsoft products are a prime target for threat actors, but the number can likely also be attributed to “detection bias.”

“Because Microsoft has been a target before some of the other platforms were even invented, there have been many more years of development into 0-day detection solutions for Microsoft products. Microsoft’s ecosystem also allows for 3rd parties, in addition to Microsoft themself, to deploy detection solutions for 0-days. The more people looking for 0-days using varied detection methodologies suggests more 0-days will be found,” explained Google Project Zero researcher Maddie Stone.

Stone also pointed out that of the 11 zero-days found in Microsoft products, only four were used against Windows 10 users, which could also be an indicator of detection bias.
 
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