The statistics show that a lot of vulnerabilities disclosures out there are actually getting easier and easier to exploit, Rains said. "It's really important for software manufacturers to use security mitigations like ASLR, DEP, SEHOP and others so that if there are vulnerabilities in the product, it makes it harder for attackers to exploit them and it drives that access complexity number higher rather than lower."
The attackers' preference for application vulnerabilities was reflected in the exploit detection statistics compiled by Microsoft.
"Blacole, a family of exploits used by the so-called Blackhole exploit kit to deliver malicious software through infected webpages, was the most commonly detected exploit family in the first half of 2012 by a large margin," Microsoft said in the report.
Blackhole contains exploits for vulnerabilities that affect various versions of Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, the Oracle Java Runtime Environment (JRE), Microsoft Data Access Components (MDAC) and other popular software products or components.
An exploit for a Java vulnerability identified as CVE-2012-0507 that was patched by Oracle in February, accounted for the second highest number of exploit detections attributed to the Blackhole kit during the first half of 2012. The highest number of Blackhole exploit detections was for CVE-2010-1885, a vulnerability that affects the Windows Help and Support Center in Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
Java exploits, excluding those bundled in Blackhole, were the second most common type of exploits detected during the first half of 2012. The number of Java exploit detections increased throughout the period, driven primarily by attacks that targeted the CVE-2012-0507 and CVE-2011-3544 Java vulnerabilities, Microsoft said in the report.
Attackers jumped on the CVE-2012-0507 exploit when it came out and there was a big increase in detection numbers starting in the first quarter of 2012, Rains said. Other than that, attackers seem to be using exploits for older Java vulnerabilities that Oracle has patched a long time ago, back in 2011, 2010 and even as far back as 2008, he said.
The third most commonly detected type of exploit during 1H12 were those that targeted vulnerabilities in document readers and editors, primarily in Adobe Reader and Acrobat.
"People who are keeping all of their software up to date, including Java, have a much better chance of not getting compromised," Rains said.
The data analyzed and presented in SIR was collected by Microsoft from 600 million devices around the world, hundreds of millions of Hotmail accounts, Web pages indexed by the Bing search engine and other sources, Rains said.