Category Archives: Video

Why you can’t update it all at once?

It’s the second part of our talk with Daniil Svetlov at his radio show “Safe Environment” recorded 29.03.2017. In this part we talk about vulnerabilities in Linux and proprietary software, problems of patch an vulnerability management, and mention some related compliance requirements.

How critical these vulnerabilities are? Are they really exploitable in our infrastructure?

Video with manually transcribed Russian/English subtitles:

Previous part “Programmers are also people who also make mistakes”.

Taking about the fact that if you use fully updated software and do not use some self-written scripts, programs, then in theory everything will be safe.

But recently there was some statistics that critical vulnerabilities stay in Linux kernel about 7 years from the moment they appeared as a result of a programmer’s error till the moment they were found by our white hat researcher.

But it is not clear during these seven years if cybercriminals have found them, used them and how many systems were broken using this vulnerabilities. Not to mention that some special government services may use it too.

For example: The latest Linux kernel flaw (CVE-2017-2636), which existed in the Linux kernel for the past seven years, allows a local unprivileged user to gain root privileges on affected systems or cause a denial of service (system crash). The Hacker News

Well yes. There is such a statistic. There is also some criticism from proprietary software developers. Like you say “many eyes that looks in code will find any error.” This is a quote from Linus Torvalds, if I’m not mistaken.

Not exactly. Linus’s Law is a claim about software development, named in honor of Linus Torvalds and formulated by Eric S. Raymond in his essay and book The Cathedral and the Bazaar (1999).[1][2] The law states that “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”; or more formally: “Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious to someone.” Wikipedia

But in practice, yes, there are really old vulnerabilities that come up after many many years. Because apparently they did not looking for this vulnerabilities well enough.But we still don’t have anything else, except Linux kernel. Therefore, they can say anything, but they will use it anyway. It is in the first place.

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Programmers are also people who also make mistakes

It’s the first part of our talk with Daniil Svetlov at his radio show “Safe Environment” (or “Safe Wednesday” – kind of wordplay in Russian) recorded 29.03.2017. We were discussing why Software Vulnerabilities are everyone’s problem. Full video in Russian without subtitles is available here.

If we look at who commits, who adds vulnerabilities to the CVE database, they are very different people.

I added manually transcribed Russian/English subtitles to the video:

  • Why vulnerabilities are dangerous for business and for ordinary people?
  • How vulnerabilities appear in programs?
  • How to write code safely?
  • What motivates vulnerability researchers?
  • Vulnerabilities as a first step in writing malicious software

We wanted to talk today about software vulnerabilities. Tell me, what is it all about, why are they dangerous for business, for ordinary people and what are the difficulties with their remediation.

Speaking about vulnerabilities, it’s probably worth to tell how they generally appear in programs.

Let’s say we have a company. This company is developing some software. Some programmers work in it. Programmers are also people who also make mistakes. And if some mistakes that are directly related to the functionality of this application, can be detected quite simply in the testing process…

Are you talking about functional testing?

Yes, it is about functional testing.

QA specialists can quickly find these vulnerabilities, or these problems, these bugs. Some problems can not be detected in such a simple way. For example, some problems related to security.

Why? Because the main task of the programmers: the program should work.

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Fast comparison of Nessus and OpenVAS knowledge bases

In my opinion, quality of knowledge base is the most important characteristic of Vulnerability Management (VM) product. Maybe it’s because I have spent significant amount of time making different security content for vulnerability scanners and this is some form of professional deformation. 🙂 The fact is that nowadays we have dozens of VM solutions on the market, which have very different knowledge bases and thus different abilities for detecting vulnerabilities. And really nobody talk about this. I can recommend related post “Tenable doesn’t want to be Tenable anymore” and especially HD Moore’s comment to that post. It describes the reason why nobody interested now in quality of detection. Maximum what we, end-users, can hear from the vendor about it’s knowledge base is an amount of vulnerability checks: 40000-80000 and approximate list of supported systems. There is a massive false belief that detection quality of the products is approximately the same and it’s better talk about dashboards, reports, SIEM-like capabilities. To demonstrate that the difference actually exists I made a pretty primitive comparison of Nessus and OpenVAS knowledge bases.

I chose these two products, mainly because information on their NASL plugins is available at As I also wrote earlier how you can use easily parse Vulners archives in python, so you can repeat it for yourself. I talked about this topic at Pentestit webinar about Vulners. If you are familiar with Russian, you can also check this out. 😉 The slides for this presentation are available here.

Why I call this comparison fast and primitive? I don’t define the structure of KBs for this product and don’t carefully map one nasl script to another. I suppose it may be a theme for another posts. Instead I am looking at the CVE links. If two scanners detect can the same vulnerabilities, they should have the same CVE links in all the NASL scripts, right? In reality we have a great difference between the products and more than a half of the CVEs can’t be detected by using both of them.

CVE links from NASL plugins

All CVEs: 80196
OpenVAS CVE links: 29240
Nessus CVE links: 35032
OpenVAS vs. Nessus: 3787;25453;9579

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