2012 WhiteHat Security Website Security Statistics Report Redux

This is an inaugural post for @MetricsHulk, on the condition that there are few – if any – “ALL CAPS” bits. Q3&4 tend to be “report season”, and @MetricsHulk usually has some critiques, praises, opines and suggestions (some smashes, too) to offer as we are inundated with a blitz of infographics.

The always #spiffy @WhiteHatSec released their 2011 Web Site Security stats report [direct link (PDF)] last week (here’s one of their teaser tweets):

With over 7,000 sites and hundreds of diverse organizations represented in the report, it is a great resource for folks to see how they stack up (more on that in a bit). Security folks should also take some encouragement from the report since:

  • Real vulnerabilities are down (significantly)
  • WAFs can help
  • Vulnerabilities are getting fixed faster (when found)

@WhiteHatSec does a fine job summarizing key & extended findings (hint: read the report), and they are awesomely up-front and honest with regard to the findings (see pages 4 & 5 for their analysis on why the ‘good stats’ might be so good).

The report is chock-full of data. Real. Data. The only way it could have been better data-wise is if they provided a Google Docs bundle of raw numbers. (NOTE: I didn’t get all the data in there, but it has decent amount from the report)

I do think there is some room for improvement. Take, for example, the – sigh – donut chart on page 9. I might be inclined to refrain from comment if this was one of those hipster infographics that seem to be everywhere these days. A pie chart isn’t much better, but at least we’re able to process the relative sizes a bit better when the actual angles are present. Here’s a before/after makeover for your comparison/opine (click for larger version):

We get an immediate sense of scale from the bars and it removes the need for the “Frosted Lucky Charms” color-wheel effect. The @WhiteHatSec folk use bars (very appropriately) almost everywhere else, so I’m not sure what the design decision was for deviating for this part of the report.

The next bit that confused me was Figure 18 (page 15). I’m having difficulty both figuring out where the “79” value comes from (I can’t get to it by averaging the values presents) and grok’ing the magnitude of the differences from the bubbles. So, here’s another before/after makeover for your comparison/opine (click for larger version):

Finally, I think Figure 23 & 24 could do with a bit of a slopegraph makeover, as the spirit of the visualization is to show year-over-year differences. The first two slopegraphs used the “Tufte binning technique“, so you’ll need to refer to the companion data tables if you want exact numbers for comparison (the trend is more important, IMO).

Average Days Open

Average Days to Close

Remediation Rates by Year

(You can also download easier to read PDFs of the slopegraphs)

Absolutely no one should take the makeover suggestions as report slander. As stated at the beginning of the post, @WhiteHatSec is open about the efficacy of their data and analysis, plus they provide actual data. The presentation of stats & trending by industry and vulnerability type should help any organization with an appsec program figure out if they are doing better or worse the others in their sector and see if they are smashing bugs with similar success. It also gives the general infosec community a view that we would otherwise not have. I would encourage other organizations to follow @WhiteHatSec’s example, even if it means more donut charts (mmm…donuts).

What information did you glean from the WhiteHat report, or what makeovers would you encourage for the next one?

Cover image from Data-Driven Security
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