If you’re in a leadership position at your organization, you may have heard of the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) list, which breaks down cybersecurity vulnerabilities that could affect you and your employees. However, you might still be wondering, “what is CVE in cyber security, and how does it affect my organization?” Read on to learn all about CVE.
What is CVE in Cyber Security? A Beginner’s Guide
With large numbers of security vulnerabilities that change each day, keeping your organization safe from risks of data breaches starts with leveraging resources like the CVE list.
Answering the question, “what is CVE in cyber security?” starts with breaking down:
- The purpose of CVE in cybersecurity
- How entry onto the CVE list is determined
- The benefits and limitations of the CVE list
- The CVE Board and its relevance to cybersecurity
With the help of the CVE, cybersecurity implementation can be optimized and streamlined, especially when partnering with a threat and vulnerability management expert.
How is the CVE List Used?
The MITRE Corporation, with funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), has compiled a list of common cybersecurity vulnerabilities and made them available to the public. Any organization can share or obtain information about these vulnerabilities from the CVE to optimize its security controls.
The Difference Between a Vulnerability vs. an Exposure
In the context of CVE cybersecurity, a vulnerability is any gap in your security controls that a cyber attacker can exploit to deploy a cyberattack. For example, a weak, easily decipherable password is a vulnerability that can result in a perpetrator gaining access to sensitive data.
In contrast, an exposure is an event you may or may not be aware of that gives a cyber attacker an upper hand in successfully launching an attack on your IT infrastructure. For example, the discovery of a flaw in a recently released security patch that allows attackers to bypass specific controls could cause your organization to be at risk of a cyberattack if action isn’t taken soon.
One way to think about the differences between these closely related terms is through proximity. While vulnerabilities are most often internal and specific to your IT infrastructure, exposures typically involve external events that can impact that infrastructure.
What is the Purpose of CVE?
CVE was established to help any organization with IT infrastructure remain up-to-date with security threats identified across the broader cybersecurity community. By collecting hundreds to thousands of threats from across the globe, the CVE functions as a centralized repository for vulnerability management.
Organizations can learn about any CVE vulnerability that has previously been identified and optimize their security controls accordingly. And, these entities can check for the latest versions of vulnerabilities, ensuring their security remains up-to-date with current security risks.
How CVEs Are Determined
Per the CVE Program, an issue is considered a vulnerability if it “violates the security policy” governing the product or service. Once a CVE Numbering Authority (CNA) receives a complaint about the CVE, only then is the reported vulnerability considered for the CVE list. If the CNA responsible for reviewing a CVE request finds that the vulnerability or exposure is not legitimate, the CVE will not be considered, and a CVE ID is not assigned.
Common Vulnerabilities And Exposures Standards
When determining CVEs, the following criteria must be met:
- Any CVE assigned a CVE ID must be made public.
- The product or service affected by the CVE must not be publicly available.
- The CVE must require collective customer or group action to address.
Streamlining the addition of CVEs to the CVE list makes it easier for organizations to access a curated and refined list of CVEs.
About CVE Identifiers
For each vulnerability considered for the CVE list, a CNA will assign a CVE identifier, which is typically a combination of alphanumeric characters that distinguish one CVE from another. CVE identifiers streamline collaboration on CVE security and help all the relevant stakeholders (e.g., customers, vendors, security professionals) share insights on vulnerabilities and exposures.
The Benefits & Limitations of CVEs
In terms of benefits, you can rely on CVEs to optimize your security controls.
By leveraging the large collection of vulnerabilities and exposures, you can gain fast insight into potential security flaws in your IT infrastructure. You can also integrate the CVE into your existing threat and vulnerability management infrastructure, improving overall threat detection.
For instance, certain programs can be optimized to detect vulnerabilities and exposures based on intelligence captured from the CVE list.
However, one of the biggest limitations of the CVE list is that many vulnerabilities are not promptly assigned CVE identifiers. As such, you may not have the most current information about recent vulnerabilities and exposures. Furthermore, not all vulnerabilities are listed on the CVE. Cyber attackers may leverage more recent vulnerabilities or exposures that have not been documented yet. Usually, there is a backlog of vulnerabilities waiting to be added to the CVE list.
There are so many vulnerabilities that it is challenging for the CVE to document all of them.
What is The CVE Board?
The CVE board is responsible for strategically overseeing the structure of the CVE program and setting rules and policies for its operations. IT security leaders from different industries are represented on the CVE board to ensure meaningful discussions regarding the best approaches for identifying CVE vulnerabilities.
The Latest Version of the CVE List
The CVE list is frequently updated with the help of CNAs, who add and publish new CVEs. The best way to keep track of all the CVEs is to periodically check the latest version of the CVE list.
On this database, you can search for CVE records and download them.
CVE Frequently Asked Questions
How Many CVEs Are There?
The total number of CVE records, at the time of writing, is 185697. However, this figure may not be current; it changes each year as CNAs add more vulnerabilities and exposures to the list.
The best way to check how many CVEs exist is to check the latest version of the CVE list.
What is The Difference Between CVE and CVSS?
Whereas the CVE provides a list of common vulnerabilities and exposures that may affect the security of your organization, the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) scores some of these vulnerabilities. The CVSS can therefore be used as a resource for scoring common vulnerabilities according to the relative severity of risks involved on a scale of 0.0 to 10.0.
The more severe a vulnerability is, the higher its Base Score is. The most recent CVSS has five categories of severity, ranging from “None” (0.0) to “Critical” (9.0–10.0).
Can Hackers Use CVE to Attack My Organization?
Yes, hackers can use CVE to attack your organization.
While it works to your benefit to identify vulnerabilities, hackers are also on the lookout for which of these vulnerabilities they can exploit. The open-source nature is a double-edged sword.
Do All Vulnerabilities Have a CVE?
No, not all vulnerabilities have a CVE entry. Some of them have not been added to the CVE list by CNAs. Others have not yet met the criteria to be considered for this list.
Who Can Submit a CVE?
Any organization can submit a CVE, provided it meets the CNA rules.
If you happen to identify a new vulnerability, whether it has previously been discovered or not, and have contacted the vendor about this vulnerability, you may be able to submit a CVE.
Where Do I Report CVE?
You can report CVE on the CVE Program website by requesting a CVE ID.
However, to fully submit you report, you will be asked to fill in some information about the CVE, and if accepted as a CVE by a CNA, you will be notified via email.
Final Thoughts—CVE and Vulnerability Management
At each stage of the vulnerability management lifecycle, your organization must be prepared to understand vulnerabilities and their potential impact. So, what is CVE in cyber security?
Answering this question requires an assessment of the factors that determine CVEs and how best these vulnerabilities and exposures can be managed with guidance from a threat and vulnerability management specialist like RSI Security.
Contact RSI Security today to learn more and get started!