Four years ago, the SANS Institute and the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) at the FBI released a document summarizing the Ten Most Critical Internet Security Vulnerabilities. Thousands of organizations used that list, and the expanded Top-20 lists that followed one, two, and three years later, to prioritize their efforts so they could close the most dangerous holes first. The vulnerable services that led to worms like Blaster, Slammer, and Code Red, as well as NIMDA worms - are on that list.
This SANS Top-20 2004 is actually two Top Ten lists: the ten most commonly exploited vulnerable services in Windows and the ten most commonly exploited vulnerable services in UNIX and Linux. Although there are thousands of security incidents each year affecting these operating systems, the overwhelming majority of successful attacks target one or more of these twenty vulnerable services.
The Top-20 is a consensus list of vulnerabilities that require immediate remediation. It is the result of a process that brought together dozens of leading security experts. They come from the most security-conscious government agencies in the UK, US, and Singapore; the leading security software vendors and consulting firms; the top university-based security programs; many other user organizations; and the SANS Institute. A list of participants may be found at the end of this document.