Insert a classy pun.

[This was originally published on the OSVDB blog.]

This entry should have been published days ago. On top of being overly busy and spread thin, I ran into a big problem related to finding a reference I wanted to include, which will lead to this being a little more ranty than intended.

How is it that our industry is over twenty years old (don’t bother debating how old the ‘security’ industry really is), and we don’t have a list of commonly accepted vulnerability classifications? Traditionally, it was fairly easy to list out the major classifications; overflow, symlink, race condition, command injection, XSS, SQL injection, path disclosure, traversal, denial of service, format string, etc. Over time we saw new types of vulnerabilities like HTTP Response Splitting, CRLF injection, Off-by-one, Underflows, etc. So, who keeps a list of what constitutes a class of vulnerability? The Secure Software Body of Knowledge has nothing, SANS’ glossary doesn’t even appear to have cross site scripting, and the OWASP Top Ten is a bit too high level. The best resources are probably:

  1. The OWASP Vulnerability Listing but I think this is too detailed to cover a general classification breakdown.
  2. Mitre’s Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE) might be the best due to their hierarchy system and more general categories.
  3. CVE’s Vulnerability Abstraction has a decent breakdown more like my quick list above, but might be considered a bit lacking, or soon will be.
  4. The Web Application Security Consortium Web Security Glossary but it is web-centric.

That said, now I can get back to my original point! On September 29, Stefan Esser posted an advisory in which he said “While searching for applications that are vulnerable to a new class of vulnerabilities inside PHP applications we took a quick look…“. This lead me to remember an article last year titled Microsoft unveils details of software security process in which Window Snyder (former Microsoft security strategist) said “These are entire classes of vulnerabilities that I haven’t seen externally. When they found these, (the developers) went on a mission, found them in all parts of the system, and got rid of them.” referring to vulnerabilities that were proactively removed. The article goes on to say “Moreover, the company found and fixed two classes of vulnerabilities that have not been discovered elsewhere, she said.

Anyone else curious about these? Less than a year, and three new classes of vulnerabilities? Come on Window, you left Microsoft, you can speak up now! Steffan, spill the beans, give us details!

Thanks for discussion and pointers: Steven Christey, Chris Wysopal, Sullo

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