Tag Archives: USN

What’s wrong with patch-based Vulnerability Management checks?

My last post about Guinea Pigs and Vulnerability Management products may seem unconvincing without some examples. So, let’s review one. It’s a common problem that exists among nearly all VM vendors, I will demonstrate it on Tenable Nessus.

If you perform vulnerability scans, you most likely seen these pretty huge checks in your scan results like “KB4462917: Winsdows 10 Version 1607 and Windows Server 2016 October 2018 Security Update“. This particular Nessus plugin detects 23 CVEs at once.

What's wrong with patch-centric Vulnerability Management?

And, as you can see, it has formalized “Risk Information” data in the right column. There is only one CVSS score and vector, one CPE, one exploitability flag, one criticality level. Probably because of architectural limitations of the scanner. So, two very simple questions:

  • for which CVE (of these 23) is this formalized Risk Information block?
  • for which CVE (of these 23) exploit is available?

Ok, maybe they show CVSS for the most critical (by their logic) CVE. Maybe they somehow combine this parameter from data for different CVEs. But in most cases this will be inaccurate. Risk information data for every of these 23 vulnerabilities should be presented independently.

As you can see on the screenshot, one of these vulnerabilities is RCE the other is Information Disclosure. Vulnerability Management solution tells us that there is an exploit. Is this exploit for RCE or DoS? You should agree, that it can be crucial for vulnerability prioritization. And more than this, in the example there are 7 different RCEs in Internet Explorer, MSXML parser, Windows Hyper-V, etc. All this mean different attack scenarios. How is it possible to show it Vulnerability Scanner like one entity with one CVSS and exploitability flag? What can the user get from this? How to search in all this?

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Vulnerability Databases: Classification and Registry

What publicly available Vulnerability Databases do we have? Well, I can only say that there are a lot of them and they are pretty different. Here I make an attempt to classify them.

It’s quite an ungrateful task. No matter how hard you try, the final result will be rather inaccurate and incomplete. I am sure someone will be complaining. But this is how I see it. 😉 If you want to add or change something feel free to make a comment bellow or email me@avleonov.com.

The main classifier, which I came up with:

  • There are individual vulnerability databases in which one identifier means one vulnerability. They try to cover all existing vulnerabilities.
  • And others are security bulletins. They cover vulnerabilities in a particular product or products. And they usually based on on patches. One patch may cover multiple vulnerabilities.

I made this diagram with some Vulnerability Databases. Note that I wanted to stay focused, so there are no exploit DBs, CERTs, lists of vulnerabilities detected by some researchers (CISCO Talos, PT Research, etc.), Media and Bug Bounty sites.

Vulnerability Databases classification

For these databases the descriptions of vulnerabilities are publicly available on the site (in html interface or downloadable data feed), or exist in a form of paid Vulnerability Intelligence service (for example, Flexera).

On one side there are databases of individual vulnerabilities, the most important is National Vulnerability Database. There are also Chinese, Japanese bases that can be derived from NVD or not.

On the other side we have security bulletins, for example RedHat Security Advisories.

And in the middle we have a Vulnerability Databases, for which it is not critical whether they have duplicated vulnerability IDs or not.

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