Protecting large trafficked and high valued websites can be an interesting InfoSec job to say the least. One thing you quickly learn is that you are under constant attack by essentially everyone with every technique they got and all the time. Noisy robots (worms & viruses) and fully targeted attackers are just par for the course. Sometimes attackers are independent researchers testing their metal or the third-party security firm hired to report what all the aforementioned attackers already know (or likely to know) about your current security posture.
When new Web code is pushed to production its a really good idea to have a vulnerability assessment scheduled immediately after to ensure security, separate from an SDL defect reducing processes. PCI-DSS requires this of merchants. At this point it becomes a “find and fix” race between the good guys and the bad guys to identify any previously unknown issues. Below is a real-world website vulnerability disclosure and patch timeline from a WhiteHat Sentinel customer who takes security, well, very seriously. The website in question is rather large and sophisticated.
* Specific dates and times have been replaced with elapsed time (DD::HH::MM) to protect identity of those involved. Some exact dates/time were not able to be confirmed.
??::??::?? - New Web code is pushed to a production website
00:00:00 - WhiteHat Sentinel scheduled scan initiates
02:19:45 - Independent researcher notifies website owner of a website vulnerability
02:20:19 - WhiteHat Sentinel independently identifies (identical) potential vulnerability
* WhiteHat Sentinel scan total time elapsed: 00:26:19 (blackout windows)
02:21:24 - Independent researchers publicly discloses vulnerability details
02:23:18 - WhiteHat Operations verifies Sentinel discovered vulnerability (customer notification sent)
02:23:45 - Website owner receives the notifications and begins resolution processes
03:00:00 - WhiteHat Operations notifies customer of public disclosure
??::??::?? - Web code security update is pushed to production website
03:09:06 - WhiteHat Sentinel confirms issue resolved
Notice the independent researcher reported the exact same issue we found, but less than an hour before we found it! They could have very easily not have though (disclosed). Also note the customers speed of fix, under 12 clock hours, which is stellar considering most are in the weeks or months. As you can see the bad guys are scanning/testing just has hard fast and continuous as we are, which is a little scary to think about.