The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database contains information about publicly known information-security threats. Every exposure or vulnerability on the CVE list has a single common, standardized CVE name.
The MITRE Corporation maintains CVE and is sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Division (NCSD). The public can view the CVE dictionary, a shared data list of information security vulnerabilities.
CVE was created in 1999 and is managed and maintained by the MITRE Corporation’s National Cybersecurity FFRDC (Federally Funded Research and Development Center). CVE is freely available to the public and can be used by anyone. This article covers detailed knowledge of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE).
The Difference between Vulnerability and Exposure
A threat actor can exploit computer software, firmware, hardware, and service components vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access and conduct a cyber-attack.
Misconfigurations, open ports, and weak credentials are examples of exposures not inherent in the software, firmware, hardware, or service component and put it at risk of exploitation.
Vulnerabilities in computer software (including software applications, operating systems, kernels, and software components) are the most commonly recorded and exploited.
The Importance of CVEs
The recent acceleration of digital transformation has increased the use of information technology in business settings. Organizations nowadays rely on a plethora of applications, systems, and devices from various vendors to run their operations. This has broadened their attack surface and given cybercriminals more options for successful attacks. Indeed, one of the most exploited attack vectors (path of network intrusion) in cyber-attacks is software vulnerabilities.
Cybercriminals are constantly looking for software vulnerabilities and developing malware and techniques to exploit them at breakneck speed. Vulnerabilities have been discovered in widely used software from well-known software vendors such as Microsoft, VMware, and Apache.
Keeping track of CVEs is thus critical to effective vulnerability management and can assist organizations in preventing devastating cyber-attacks.
The Value of CVE to Enterprises
The CVE Program is a valuable tool for helping organizations manage vulnerabilities. IT security administrators can learn about any vulnerabilities in the organization’s software and receive advice on fixing the problem. Furthermore, CVSS Scores assist administrators in planning and prioritizing remediation efforts, as there may be numerous vulnerabilities across all software at any time. A CVSS Environmental Score derived from the CVSS Score calculator aids security administrators in assessing the vulnerability’s risk to their organization.
CVE can assist organizations in improving their security defenses and, as a result, reducing risk. For example, CVE makes it easier to share vulnerability information across and between organizations. Organizations that acquire CVE-compatible products and services can also improve their security posture. The following are the advantages of CVE:
- Determine whether compatible products have been tested for specific security flaws.
- Products and services that are trusted and interoperable and can help protect the organization.
- Establish a baseline for understanding what each tool covers and whether it is appropriate for the organization.
- CVE information can be used by security advisors to search for attack signatures and identify specific vulnerability exploits.
- Discover security tools that are CVE-compatible to reduce your overall cybersecurity risk posture.
- Alerts from software vendors can be used to validate the installation of updates and patches.
- Using CVE names, you can easily compare the coverage of security controls and services.
- Threat actors are constantly looking for new ways to use CVE to gain access to systems, networks, and software assets. As a result, organizations must constantly monitor CVEs and apply updates and patches to mitigate or eliminate the risks posed by these vulnerabilities. Furthermore, once a vendor is aware of a vulnerability, it releases security patches quickly to prevent cybercriminals from exploiting the CVE.
How Are CVEs Determined?
CVE IDs are assigned to flaws that meet specific criteria. They must be fixed independently of other bugs, recognized by the vendor as harming security, and affect only one codebase. CVEs are assigned to flaws that affect more than one product.
What qualifies for CVE?
While you may be well-versed in CVE, you should know that not every vulnerability will be labeled as such. Specific criteria must be met for a vulnerability to be added to the CVE List. As an example:
- It must be solvable/fixable without the assistance of any other flaw or bug. When it comes to fixing, it should be self-contained.
- It is critical that the affected party/vendor/organization/end-user acknowledges the presence of the vulnerability and provides documented proof of its impact. There should be sufficient evidence of the flaw. For example, the organization must provide documented proof of its negative impact on the security system. With documented proof, the CVE Board will recognize a flaw and assign it a CVE ID.
- It must only affect one codebase. The CVE system behaves differently when multiple codebases are affected.
Even though CVE excellently educates people about vulnerable areas and raises awareness, it has its challenges.
Offers the Glimpses Only
It only provides a brief overview of a vulnerability, which is sometimes sufficient. Whatever information it provides is insufficient to develop a vulnerability management strategy. Both CVE entries and identifiers provide only a limited amount of information. One must rely on vendor advisory, in-house research, and deeper analysis to find solutions and mitigate risks.
Complex to Use
Although additional information can be found on the vendor’s website, extracting that information is additional work that takes time. Gathering information from multiple sources also results in a delayed or slow response, giving a loophole more time to act.
The flaws identified by CVE are all related to unpatched systems. This information was sufficient and applicable if one followed an old-school vulnerability management approach.
Modern and advanced vulnerability strategies necessitate information on patched software, which is also becoming a victim of cyber threats. A robust and functional security approach requires vulnerability details on patched and unpatched software, which is impossible.
If a CVE vulnerability is not addressed, it can become a threat. Worse, it could escalate into a cyberattack. Fortunately, choosing a new-generation networking solution like Arista can ease the battle between CVE detection and remediation. Extensive testing before release and low annual CVE counts give either networking or security teams a chance at complete repair.