New vulnerability reporting framework

The Industry Consortium for Advancement of Security on the Internet (ICASI) published of its Common Vulnerability Reporting Framework (CVRF) Version 1.0.

CVRF is an XML-based framework that enables stakeholders across different organizations to share critical vulnerability-related information in an open and common machine-readable format. This format replaces the myriad of current nonstandard reporting formats, thus speeding up information exchange and processing.

“CVRF represents a true milestone in industry efforts to raise and broaden awareness of security vulnerabilities,” said Linda Betz, president of ICASI and director of IT Policy and Information Security at IBM. “With the use of CVRF, the producers of vulnerability reports will benefit from faster and more standardized reporting. End users will be able to find, process and act upon relevant information more quickly and easily, with a higher level of confidence that the information is accurate and comprehensive.”

Although the computer security community has made significant progress in several other areas in recent years, including categorizing and ranking the severity of vulnerabilities in information systems, there has been no standard framework for creating vulnerability report documentation.

Methods such as embedding security metric and vulnerability data inside response reports are all vendor-specific, non-standard and time consuming to decipher manually.

Through its CVRF Project, ICASI undertook to remedy this lack of standardization, using the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) draft Incident Object Description Exchange Format (IODEF) as a starting point. The project team – including contributors from ICASI Founding Members Cisco Systems, Intel Corporation, International Business Machines, Juniper Networks, Microsoft Corporation and Nokia, along with representatives from Oracle and Red Hat – also surveyed enterprise users about similarities and differences in current vulnerability reporting, asking them what future reporting methods should address.

The team then expanded existing security documentation formats and integrated a solution into a common, open XML-based framework ‒ CVRF ‒ that brings consolidation and consistency to the security vulnerability documentation space, and is expected to grow organically among stakeholders.

The XML-based framework of CVRF predefines a large number of fields, with extensibility and robustness in mind. These fields are consistent in naming and data type, so that any organization that adopts and understands CVRF can easily produce documents or read the ones that another CVRF-equipped organization has produced.

Independent discoverers of bugs, large vendors, security coordinators and end users of security response efforts worldwide can all write CVRF documents to share critical vulnerability-related information. Widespread use of CVRF will accelerate information dissemination and exchange and incident resolution as a result.