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2017, The Flood of CVEs

2017 is almost done and it’s my last diary for this year. I made a quick review of my CVE database (I’m using a local cve-search[1] instance). The first interesting number is the amount of CVE’s created this year. Do you remember when the format was CVE-YYYY-XXXX? The CVE ID format[2] changed in 2014 to break the limit of 9999 entries per year. This was indeed a requirement when you see the number of entries for the last five years:

2017 14680
2016 6447
2015 6480
2014 7946
2013 5191

If more and more organisations are taking security into consideration, how to explain this peak of reported vulnerabilities? First, I think that, in parallel to organisations focusing on security, “attackers” are also more and more active. Not only bad guys who are always looking into ways to make more profit but also students and security researchers. In Europe, offensive security trainings are very popular. People like to learn how to “break stuff”. Also, there was a huge increase in bug bounty programs[3] which motivate people to search for new vulnerabilities.

We also see new vendors that are not coming directly from the IT field but that make intensive use of these technologies. Some examples that received (at least) a CVE in 2017:

  • Tesla - CVE-2016-9337[4]
  • Bavarian-Motor-Works (BMW) - CVE-2017-9212[5]
  • Miele (home appliances) - CVE-2017-7240[6]
  • GMV (ATMs) - https://www.cvedetails.com/cve/CVE-2017-6968/[7]

Note: I did not even mention all products related to small IoT gadgets, industrial systems, etc.

Does this mean that the security of our products is worse? For many of them, I don’t think so. Most of those vulnerabilities have been fixed by vendors. This makes their products stronger. Let's think about this scenario: You're looking for a new "device" and you have the choice between two vendors. You have a look at the vulnerabilities associated with them. The first one has 10 CVEs and the second one only 2. Does it mean that the second one is better? Not necessarily, the first one might have a bug bounty program, can have a broader users bases (which means that more people are looking into its products). The most important is to check how they react when a vulnerability is reported to them. Do they fix quickly the vulnerability? Do they try to reduce the noise? To prosecute the researcher (sometimes)? Once the vulnerability has been fixed, the main problem remains the process of patching or updating the affected products! 

[1] http://cve-search.github.io/cve-search/
[2] https://cve.mitre.org/about/faqs.html#what_is_cve_id
[3] https://www.bugcrowd.com/bug-bounty-list/
[4] https://www.cvedetails.com/cve/CVE-2016-9337/
[5] https://www.cvedetails.com/cve/CVE-2017-9212/
[6] https://www.cvedetails.com/cve/CVE-2017-7240/
[7] https://www.cvedetails.com/cve/CVE-2017-6968/

Xavier Mertens (@xme)
ISC Handler - Freelance Security Consultant
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Xme

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