Monthly Archives: July 2016

Vulnerability scanners: a view from the vendor and end user side

Original article was published in Information Security Magazine #2, 2016 (in Russian)

Vulnerability scanner is a computer program or hardware appliance designed to detect security problems on hosts in computer network. What kind of problems? Well, problems that may occur if some critical security updates were not installed on time or the system was not configured securely. In practice, this situation often occurs and it makes hacking the systems easy even for inexperienced attacker.

If it is all about checking, maybe it’s possible to do it manually? Yes, sure, but it requires a lot of specific expertise, accuracy and time. That’s why vulnerability scanners, which can automate network audit, have become standard tools in the arsenal of information security experts.

I worked for a long time in the development department of well-known vulnerability scanning vendor and was making a lot of competitive analysis as well. At current time, I use vulnerability scanners as an end user. So, in this article I will try to look at the main problems of this class of products from the vendor and from the end user side.

how-users-see-the-vm-vendors-how-vm-vendors-see-the-users

How vulnerability scanner detects vulnerabilities?

Detection methods are usually well known and uncomplicated: vulnerability scanner somehow detects software version installed on a host. If version is less then secure version of this software (known from the public bulletin) – vulnerability exists and the software should be updated. If not – everything is ok. As a rule, vulnerability scanners try to guess installed versions by opened ports and service banners, or scanner may just have a full remote access to the host and able to perform all necessary commands (it is the most accurate and effective way).
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Vulners – Google for hacker. How the best vulnerability search engine works and how to use it

Original article was published in Xakep Magazine #06/2016 (in Russian)

vulners.com logo

The common task. –£ou need to find all information about some vulnerability: how critical the bug is, whether there is a public exploit, which vendors already released patches, which vulnerability scanner can detect this bug in the system. Previously, you had to search it all manually in dozens of sources (CVEDetails, SecurityFocus, Rapid7 DB, Exploit-DB, CVEs from MITRE / NIST, vendor newsletters, etc.) and analyze the collected data. Today, this routine can be (and should be!) automated with specialized services. One of these services – Vulners.com, the coolest search engine for bugs. And what is the most important – it’s free and has an open API. Let’s see how it can be useful for us.

What is it?

Vulners is a very large constantly updating database of Information Security content. This site lets you search for vulnerabilities, exploits, patches, bug bounty programs the same way a web search engine lets you search for websites. Vulners aggregates and presents in convenient form seven major types of data:

  • Popular vulnerability databases, containing general descriptions of vulnerabilities and links. For example, well-known NVD CVEs of MITRE US agency and NIST Institute. In addition to this, Vulners supports vulnerability descriptions from various research centers and response teams: Vulnerability Lab, XSSed, CERT, ICS, Zero Day Initiative, Positive Technologies, ERPScan.
  • Vendor’s security bulletins. This bug-reports are published by software vendors and contain information about vulnerabilities in their own products. At current moment Vulners supports various Linux distributions (Red Hat, CentOS, Oracle Linux, Arch Linux, Debian, Ubuntu, SUSE), FreeBSD, network devices (F5 Networks, Cisco, Huawei, Palo Alto Networks), popular and critical software (OpenSSL, Samba, nginx, Mozilla, Opera), including CMS (WordPress, Drupal).
  • Exploits from Exploit-DB, Metasploit and 0day.today. Exploits are parsed and stored in full-text form and you can read the sources in a convenient text editor.
  • Nessus plugins for vulnerability detection. It makes easy to find out whether a particular vulnerability can be detected using this popular network scanner. Why is it important? Read in my article “When a free scanning service detects vulnerabilities better“.
  • Bug disclousers for bug bounty programs. At current moment Vulners supports HackerOne and Open Bug Bounty.
  • Potential vulnerabilities of mobile applications and CMS. It is possible in cooperation with the static application security testing (SAST) vendors Hackapp and InfoWatch APPERCUT.
  • Posts from hacking resources. Vulners collects Threatpost and rdot.org publications, which often cover vulnerability related topics.

All this information is handled, cataloged, structured and is always available for the search.

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PCI DSS 3.2 and Vulnerability Intelligence

Establish a process to identify security vulnerabilities, using reputable outside sources for security vulnerability information… It’s one of the requirements of PCI DSS v3.2 (The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). It’s not about regular scans, as you could think. It is actually about monitoring web-sites and mailing lists where information about vulnerabilities is published. It’s very similar to what Vulnerability Intelligence systems have to do, isn’t it? A great opportunity for me to speculate about this class of products and deal with related PCI requirement. In this post I will mention following solutions: Flexera VIM, Rapid7 Nexpose NOW, Vulners.com and Qualys ThreatPROTECT.

PCI DSS 3.2 and Vulnerability Intelligence

Term “Vulnerability Intelligence” is almost exclusively used by only one security company – Secunia, or how it is called now Flexera Software. But I like this term more than “Threat Intelligence”, a term that many VM vendor use, but historically it is more about traffic and network attacks. Let’s see how Vulnerability Intelligence solutions was developed, and how they can be used (including requirements of PCI Compliance).

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Use multiple vulnerability scanners in the name of good

About a month ago I wrote a post “When a free scanning service detects vulnerabilities better”. This post was about OpenSSL CVE-2016-2107 vulnerability. A free High-Tech Bridge scanning service was detecting this vulnerability, but commercial Tenable Nessus/SecurityCenter not.

We communicated with a Tenable customer support and it brought some results. Now you can find a new plugin #91572 “OpenSSL AES-NI Padding Oracle MitM Information Disclosure” in Nessus plugin search (by CVE id CVE-2016-2107).

New CVE-2016-2107 Nessus plugin

I have tested a vulnerable server with High-Tech Bridge service:

HTBridge detects vulnerability

Then scanned it with Nessus. Note, that you can select only one plugin “General -> 91572” in your Nessus scan policy to speed up the scanning. This plugin does not have any dependencies.

Nessus detects vulnerability

As you can see, now the Nessus detects this vulnerability correctly.

The screenshot shows that it took more than a month, but after all this detection plugin was realized. And I hope my support tickets also played some role.

Nessus plugin

Therefore, I recommend, if it is possible, to validate your vulnerability scan results with additional scanners/services and REPORT your vendor the differences. It will help to achieve a better security level for your infrastructure and will make the your vendor’s products better.