Tag Archives: SANS

Classification: Minor Touch-ups and Reorganization

In addition to overhauling the ‘exploit’ classification, additional touch-ups and reorganization has been done to the classification system. For volunteers that help mangle entries, watch out as items have shifted in flight. For users of OSVDB, these will be mostly cosmetic changes and should not impact searching.

  • Disclosure column has been re-ordered
  • Location column has been re-ordered
  • Several locations have been touched-up. Use of ‘required’ is consistent now.
  • Context-dependent – Moved from OSVDB to Location
  • Mobile Phone expanded to include ‘Hand-held’ devices that may not be a phone
  • Patch now includes RCS as some fixes are only available from CVS, SVN, etc.
  • Removed ‘best practice’, no longer useful. We do not support SANS Top 20 x-refs any longer, since they don’t support the “20″ in the Top 20.
  • Removed ‘no solution’. Until we have more volunteers and timely updates for all entries, ‘solution unknown’ is more accurate.
  • Removed ‘hijacking’ attack type. Obsolete, not really an attack type of its own.

SANS Top 20 Report – Deja Vu

I previously blogged about the SANS Top 20 List in a pretty negative fashion. The list started off as the “Top 10 Vulnerabilities” and quickly expanded into the Top 20 Vulnerabilities. Even last year (2005), they were still calling it a “Top 20 Vulnerabilities” list when it clearly had become anything but that. This year, SANS finally wised up calling the list “SANS Top-20 Internet Security Attack Targets”. Yes, they are now listing the 20 most attacked ‘targets’, not ‘exploited vulnerabilities’. With this change, does the list regain some of the value it originally had and quickly lost? Let’s look at the list:

Operating Systems
W1. Internet Explorer
W2. Windows Libraries
W3. Microsoft Office
W4. Windows Services
W5. Windows Configuration Weaknesses
M1. Mac OS X
U1. UNIX Configuration Weaknesses
Cross-Platform Applications
C1 Web Applications
C2. Database Software
C3. P2P File Sharing Applications
C4 Instant Messaging
C5. Media Players
C6. DNS Servers
C7. Backup Software
C8. Security, Enterprise, and Directory Management Servers
Network Devices
N1. VoIP Servers and Phones
N2. Network and Other Devices Common Configuration Weaknesses
Security Policy and Personnel
H1. Excessive User Rights and Unauthorized Devices
H2. Users (Phishing/Spear Phishing)
Special Section
Z1. Zero Day Attacks and Prevention Strategies

So if you run Windows, Unix, or MacOS .. and/or have Web Applications, Database software, allow P2P file sharing, allow IM messaging, have media players (installed by default on most OSs), run DNS servers, run Backup Software, run Security/Enterprise/DM servers .. and/or use VoIP servers/phones or “network and other devices”.. and/or have weak policy governing user rights or don’t prohibit certain devices and you actually have users.. you have at least one of the “Top 20 Attack Targets”. Wow, is that ever so helpful. Oh, I forgot, failing all of that, “Zero Day Attacks” are a top 20 attack vector.

Hey SANS, could you make a more overly vague and general security list next time? Maybe for 2007 you could shorten it from the “Top 20″ to the “Top 1″ and just list “C1: Have a computer type device”. That would save your analysts a lot of time and be just as helpful to the masses. Seriously, ditch the list or go back to the basics.

Insert a classy pun.

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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