Why I’m So Behind

[This was originally published on the OSVDB blog.]

Another night of working on OSVDB, mainly focusing on vulnerability import and creating our entries to cover issues. Most nights end with between 25 and 50 new entries and a feeling of accomplishment. Well, other manglers can see the accomplishment if they check the back end, and that gives a little positive reinforcement. On really big days I just spam the status line to Jake and Sullo and demand instant gratification and the promise of booze to dull the pain.

Anyway, tonight was productive but no one but me and Speedbump will realize. I can thank IBM and a set of ridiculously large changelogs full of mind-numbing poorly written bug reports and excessive (apparent) duplication of entries. It started out with a simple Bugtraq post about some vulnerabilities in IBM WebSphere Application Server. First off, I find it quite amusing that people are now taking credit for merely posting vulnerability information culled from another source.

Provided and/or discovered by:
Reported by the vendor

Reported by SnoB

If this type of activity deserved merit, VDBs like Secunia, CVE and OSVDB would be virtual gods of vulnerability disclosure. Second, he lists seven issues from a changelog that contains hundreds. If you go dig through the changelogs like the one for the Fix List for WebSphere Application Server Version 5.1.1, you may find more of interest. While browsing them, I noticed a fairly insignificant but ironic characteristic of the way IBM handles these disclosures. If you want to read the list of over five hundred entries and only pick out the security related ones, you can! Skim the list for any P##### number that doesn’t hyper-link to another document. 95% of the time, these are security related. So while IBM is not providing additional details about these issues (security through obscurity), they are making it easier to pick out which entries are of interest.

Oh yes, back to the exciting night life. After checking the latest list of changes as well as digging into some past fix lists, I ended up with around 75 more vulnerabilities, most of which are not in our database (or others). This list I extracted has some dupes in it, meaning the same issue affected multiple products or version lines. However, it is quite curious to see the same vulnerability patched half a dozen times over two years across many versions. Is IBM reintroducing the same vulnerability back into the code over and over? Or are they following the Oracle method of mitigation and not looking at the bigger picture and fixing similar vulnerabilities in the same code? Anyway, since I know I won’t get an answer to that, consider that it would take you twenty or more hours to read and digest a handful of these fix lists, and in doing so, you would likely find fifty or more vulnerabilities above and beyond what I found. The amount of information is overwhelming to say the least.

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