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Re: The CVE-10K Problem

Option 4 will be the best approach for the CVE audience that has been built
up over the life of the project.  A radical shift to random numbers will
confuse people.  

I think it's important that we keep the year in there.  I know that it's off
a little sometimes.  But, it's very useful when talking to vendors to be
able to ask them why they haven't fixed a 3-4 year old vul that has been
clearly identified in the community.

On the tool vendors, I defer to them as the owners of those products but
this type of change should not be a major issue as long as we give them a
very clear definition of the field and sufficient time to implement it.

Many thanks to Pascal for pointing out this important issue.  My hope is
that the numbers will eventually start trending down.  But, there are more
and more software developers in the world cranking out more and more
software so maybe this trend is to be expected.

What I'm implying is that until software vendors, universities, and
purchasers demand and implement secure coding practices, we will probably
continue to see the trend increase.  When the cost to manage vulnerabilities
and compromises reaches a certain economic and/or social threshold, the
trend will move back down.  It's arguable whether we are there now or not.

Because of the increasing volume, I think it's important that the Board help
come up with some creative ideas to help the CVE team manage this workload.


A. Only manage vuls on software titles with over 1 million copies in use
B. Only track vuls with remote root/admin implications
C. Only track vuls for most current versions of software

I realize that these suggestions may not be practical...just attempting to
stir up discussion.  How can we help Steve continue to succeed?


On 1/12/07 5:20 PM, "Steven M. Christey" <coley@mitre.org> wrote:

> All,
> Well, it's that time.  For 2006 so far, we've nearly assigned 7000 CVE
> identifiers.  We don't have 100% completeness, but I'd say that for
> the usual sources (major vuln DBs, vendor advisories, Bugtraq etc.)
> there might be another 100 to 1000 CVE's for 2006.
> Given the continued vulnerability growth trends, it's a real
> possibility that in 2007, we run the risk of assigning 9,999 CVE's for
> issues.  What to do with the 10,000'th entry is the CVE-10K Problem.
> Here are some possible solutions.  Feedback appreciated.  We can cover
> this topic in an upcoming telecon, too.
> 1) Keeping the year and moving to hex-based... CVE-2007-9999 would go
>    to CVE-2007-A000, etc.  Problem: would probably break many apps
>    that assume digits only.  Benefit: we could handle 65,000 ID's in a
>    single year.
> 2) Completely randomize the year portion.  We've considered this for a
>    number of reasons, because too many people make assumptions based
>    on the year portion of the ID already - sometimes it's date of
>    disclosure, sometimes it's date of assignment, sometimes it's
>    because of a typo from an authoritative source.  Randomization
>    would help in some other ways, too.  This is the most radical
>    approach but has some strengths.  Problem: any crude usability is
>    lost.  Benefit: the possible space of 100 million identifiers
>    allows us to pass the problem onto the next generation :) but also
>    might allow for less tightly controlled allocation of CVE's
>    (although reduced control has serious negative consequences on
>    CVE-based quantitative analyses and maintenance costs, so this is
>    only a possibility).
> 3) Adding 1000 to the year.  Benefit: introduces predictability, and
>    it's one of the least radical approaches.  It buys us some time.
>    Problem: only increases to 20,000 identifiers in a year.  Bigger
>    problem: the identifier is likely to be thought of as a typo by
>    many readers, and automatically "corrected" to the current year,
>    which would be an identifier for the wrong issue.
> 4) Keeping the year, and extending the numeric portion to 5 digits.
>    Benefit: this preserves the CRUDE utility of the year portion and
>    doesn't introduce any alphabetic characters.  Problem: some
>    tools/products/databases might assume only 8 total digits instead
>    of 9, so one digit could get lopped off.  Maintenance costs would
>    be greater than #2 and #3.  It also might affect sorting, but in
>    the grand scheme of things, I'm less concerned than I used to be.
> Handling over, say, 20K issues in a year would likely require a
> paradigm shift within the entire vulnerability information management
> industry.  As Dave Mann has pointed out to me numerous times, the
> growth in the number of vulns is outpacing the growth in CVE funding,
> which has been mostly flat with respect to content generation itself,
> with increasing risks of our funding actually being reduced (I don't
> think most people understand why good vulnerability information isn't
> cheap.)  Anyway, I suspect that this growth problem is hurting other
> vuln databases/products, too.  We're already seeing some of that
> paradigm shift; the Board gave up voting a while ago due to the amount
> of effort, you're seeing more generic vulnerability database entries
> with more mistakes (probably being made by less experienced analysts
> with less editorial oversight), the percentage of verified issues is
> probably smaller, etc.
> Thoughts?
> - Steve
> P.S.  Thanks to Pascal Meunier for asking about this privately, which
> prompted me to mention it here.

Page Last Updated or Reviewed: May 22, 2007