Author Archive: jkouns

2015, A Record Year For Vulnerabilities

Risk Based Security released the VulnDB QuickView report that shows 2015 broke the previous all-time record for the highest number of reported vulnerabilities. The 14,185 vulnerabilities cataloged during 2015 by Risk Based Security eclipsed the total covered by the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) and CVE by over 6,000.

Risk Based Security’s newly released 2015 Year End VulnDB QuickView report shows that 20.5% of reported vulnerabilities received CVSS scores between 9.0 and 10.0 and the number of vulnerabilities and the CVSS scores are both trending higher over the last four years.

It comes as no real surprise that Web-related vulnerabilities account for nearly 60% of the total reported in 2015, with cross-site scripting (XSS) making up 39% of those.

The VulnDB QuickView report also revealed that vulnerabilities disclosed in a coordinated fashion with the vendor rose to 42% in 2015 compared to 28% in 2014, the previous record. Another interesting fact in the report is that third-party Bug Bounty programs outpaced Vendor managed bounty programs 4:1 in 2015, when details were made available to the public.

Open Security Foundation Announces New Advisory Board

As security vulnerabilities and data loss incidents become a regular occurrence, the Open Security Foundation has grown from supporting a single project in 2004 to a leading provider of filtering through security information and providing notifications and aggregation for data for data loss and cloud security incidents.

The Open Security Foundation has evolved into one of the most utilized resources in providing security information, and as a 501c3 non-profit organization relies heavily on public contributions, volunteer effort and corporate sponsorships.

The growing demand for information to provide proper risk management has led to additional projects and now the introduction of an advisory board consisting of industry professionals to lend their expertise in areas to keep OSF moving in a positive direction and to be the first line of access to all that require their service.

Open Security Foundation CEO and founder Jake Kouns stated, “This is a very important step in shaping the future of the Open Security Foundation.” “OSF has reached a point in growth that requires a strategic move to provide longevity and sustainability. It has always been a goal of this organization to provide our work to the broadest audience and the introduction of the advisory board will contribute to that objective. I am extremely proud to be part of such an amazing organization that has built a reputation of excellence and serves a very important function,” adds Kouns. “We put out a call for qualified individuals that could provide guidance and insight to keep OSF a leader in the security information arena. The results of our search far exceeded our highest expectations; it’s not only provides us with confidence in our direction, but the impact OSF has had on the industry.”

The new advisory board members comprises of an array of specific industries that understand the importance of OSF resources. Each member was chosen for a specific contribution to ultimately achieve the objective and mission of this foundation and capable of providing broad based perspective on information security, business management and fundraising.

Tom Srail, Senior VP Willis Group provides 19 years of experience in the insurance industry with an expertise in risk consulting, professional liabilities, network security risks, intellectual property and technology professional risks.

Shawn Andreas, VP Marketing Guard Dog Inc. (GRDO.PK) will contribute his 20 years of experience in marketing and brand awareness to remake OSF to be more consumer and market friendly focusing on fundraising and sponsorships opportunities. His expertise in marketing spans over diverse markets and includes opportunities working with some of the country’s top companies including GM, Apple, Viacom and more.

Jim Hietala VP, Security for a leading IT standards organization, manages all security and risk management programs. Mr. Hietala is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. In addition he has published numerous articles on information security, risk management and compliance topics.

Daniel E. Geer, Jr. Sc.D. Chief Information security officer In-Q-Tel Washington. Mr. Geer has a list of accomplishments including participation in government advisory roles for the Federal Trade Commission, the Departments of Justice and Treasury, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the US Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Andrew Lewman, Executive Director The Tor Project, Inc. Andrew Lewman is the Executive Director of The Tor Project, a non-profit organization. Mr. Lewman worked on projects with the National Science Foundation, Internews Network, Freedom House, Google, Broadcasting Board of Governors, National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the US State Department.

In addition to the advisory board, OSF also announces new leadership positions with the organization. We are pleased to announce that Becky Chickering and Corey Quinn are now curators for the DataLossDB project. We want to thank everyone that contacted OSF to volunteer their time and skills for the advisory board and flexibility as we went through this process. During our conversations with potential members we spoke with several passionate individuals that have a great deal to offer OSF. We plan to continue to expand our leadership team and are always looking for volunteers to help the organization.

Open Security Foundation Launches New Cloud Security Project

The Open Security Foundation, providing independent, accurate, detailed, current, and unbiased security information to professionals around the world, announced today that it has launched Cloutage ( that will bring enhanced visibility and transparency to Cloud security. The name Cloutage comes from a play on two words, Cloud and Outage, that combine to describe what the new website offers: a destination for organizations to learn about cloud security issues as well as a complete list of any problems around the globe among cloud service providers.

The new website is aimed at empowering organizations by providing cloud security knowledge and resources so that they may properly assess information security risks related to the cloud. Cloutage documents known and reported incidents with cloud services while also providing a one-stop shop for cloud security news and resources.

“When speaking with individuals about the cloud, to this point it has been a very emotional conversation. People either love or hate the cloud,” says Jake Kouns, Chairman, Open Security Foundation. “Our goal with Cloutage is to bring grounded data and facts to the conversation so we can have more meaningful discussions about the risks and how to improve cloud security controls.”

Cloutage captures data about incidents affecting cloud services in several forms including vulnerabilities that affect the confidentiality and integrity of customer data, automatic update failures, data loss, hacks and outages that impact service availability. Data is acquired from verifiable media resources and is also open for community participation based on anonymous user submissions. Cloud solution providers are listed on the website and the community can provide comments and ratings based on their experiences. Cloutage also features an extensive news service, mailing lists and links to organizations focused on the secure advancement of cloud computing.

“The nebulous world of cloud computing and the security concerns associated with it confuses many people, even IT and security professionals,” says Patrick McDonald, a volunteer on the Cloutage project. “We want a clearinghouse of information that provides a clear picture of the cloud security issues.”

Open Security Foundation – Advisory Board – Call for Nominations

The Open Security Foundation (OSF) is an internationally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit public organization seeking senior leaders capable of providing broad-based perspective on information security, business management and fundraising to volunteer for an Advisory Board. The Advisory Board will provide insight and guidance when developing future plans, an open forum for reviewing community feedback and a broader view when prioritizing potential new services.

OSF was founded in 2004 and has been operated by information security enthusiasts since its inception. We exist to empower all types of organizations by providing knowledge and resources so that they may properly protect, detect and mitigate information security risks. We believe that security information and services should be easily accessible for all who have the need for such information. We promote open collaboration between companies and individuals, provide unbiased information to uphold educated decision-making, and attempt to eliminate the need for redundant works while striving to improve organizations’ overall security posture.

Prospective Advisory Board members should show an ability and willingness to:

  • Participate actively in all meetings of the Advisory Board (2 times per year and as otherwise needed)
  • Represent OSF and its mission to organizations and the general public
  • Review and provide feedback for proposed OSF plans
  • Chair and serve as members of committees
  • Assist in locating and developing funding sources for OSF

If you are interested in volunteering please email us at and provide the following information:

Phone Number:
Email Address:
Area of Expertise:

If you know someone with senior leader experience who you believe could act in an advisory position please contact us at officers @

The call for Advisory Board volunteers will be open until March 19, 2010. We will review all submissions by March 31, 2010.

Open Security Foundation – State of the Union 2010

The Open Security Foundation (OSF) has grown from a humble beginning in 2004 to an internationally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit public organization. Through the work of a small team of dedicated information security enthusiasts, the Open Source Vulnerability Database (OSVDB) and DataLossDB projects have provided organizations of all sizes with the knowledge and resources to accurately detect, protect and mitigate information security risks. OSF research is often cited throughout the security industry and the organization was honored by being named winner of the SC Magazine’s Editors Choice award for 2009.

To ensure the highest quality information that has become the trademark of OSF, a tremendous amount of effort is expended on a daily basis by OSF volunteers to process an ever increasing amount of data loss and vulnerability reports. Over the years, many volunteers have been involved in the projects, but for the most part the the heavy lifting has been the work of only a few very dedicated volunteers. The “open source” approach to resourcing the projects has been successful to date but is now proving to be an unsustainable model. With long-term sustainability and increased services as our goal, we have initiated a comprehensive review of our current operations, our existing approach to project funding and the creation of potential new services for the security community.

As a start, we plan to do a better job of sharing our view on the state of the information security industry and creating a mechanism to gain community feedback to better establish our vision for the OSVDB and DataLossDB projects.

To that end I want to take a moment to share our initial plans for 2010.

The OSF officers and project leads have been dedicated to the daily operations required to make OSVDB and DataLossDB the recognized leader in vulnerability and data loss tracking. This focused dedication has left little time to take the pulse of the industry as it relates to our projects or to establish a clear long-term vision for the projects. To address this need, OSF will be creating an Advisory Board. The board will consist of three to five senior leaders capable of providing broad based perspective on information security, business management and fundraising. It is our hope that this will provide a sounding board when developing future plans, an open forum when reviewing community feedback and a broader view when prioritizing potential new services. Additional information along with an official call for Advisory Board nominations is planned for 2/12/2010.

Direct unfiltered feedback from both the security community as well as the organizations that benefit from our projects is critical. Over the next few weeks, we plan to post a public survey asking for feedback that will help shape our long-term vision and establish our near-term plans for OSVDB and DataLossDB. Those of you who value the work that the OSF provides and/or consider yourselves friends and supporters of OSF are asked to help spread the word to maximize the feedback provided.

Feedback from the survey will be the foundation for the OSF vision and 2010 plan. Our goal is to present a draft of both the vision and the 2010 plan to the newly formed Advisory Board by mid-April 2010. Once finalized, both documents will be shared with the information security community.

OSF has been recognized for providing a critical service to the information security community but our potential is much greater. We look forward to hearing your ideas on how OSF can further improve the state of security while building a stronger organization to deliver even higher quality research and additional services.

We appreciate your support and if you are interested in working with OSF please contact us at moderators @ or curators @

Jake Kouns
Chairman, Open Security Foundation

More powerful searches, by looking at what’s NOT there…

Sometimes when I read our past blog posts it seems like OSVDB moderators are a broken record. We seem to always say that we had these ideas a long time ago…. We seem to frequently say that VDBs need to evolve……. We say that we would love to do something about it but need resources…….. Times are changing for OSVDB. As you have seen over the past couple weeks, we are extremely thankful for our lead developer Dave as he is making a lot of these ideas happen!

OSVDB has publicly stated several times (e.g., SyScan04 , CanSecWest 2005 and OSBR) that we felt it was important to achieve active integration with security tools to streamline the process of identifying and setting priorities for the creation of vulnerability checks. Our goal is for OSVDB to assist tool developers to identify vulnerability checks or signatures that are not already represented in their products, and will provide a way to identify the high-priority vulnerabilities for immediate attention.

Today we took our first huge step forward to make this happen thanks to yet another improvement in our search engine. A couple days ago I was discussing this idea again with Jericho and the possibility of trying to finally bring it to life. To make it really happen we agreed we would need the search engine to function in a way it hasn’t yet done…. it would need to search for things that are NOT in OSVDB, and need to search based on CVSS scoring / criteria. After spending some time chatting with Jericho he said…… it may be complicated to implement. Well, he definitely underestimated Dave’s ninja development skills as this was knocked out in several hours over two days!

What is the big deal about this feature anyways?

What if for example….

  • …you were wondering which vulnerability scanner / IDS / IPS has the best coverage?
  • …you were trying to figure out which check you should write for your favorite scanner / IDS / IPS?
  • …you were trying to figure out what are the most important vulnerabilities missing from a scanner?

OSVDB can now show you a listing of all vulnerabilities with certain characteritics that are missing a reference as well. Even more powerful, the ability to search by CVSSv2 score or specific attribute.

For example, we can have OSVDB show a listing of all vulnerabilties that have the following:

  • CVSS score between 9 to 10
  • are for Microsoft
  • can be exploited from remote/network
  • and do NOT have a Metasploit reference

Check out the results from OSVDB for the example above.

This search shows that there are 175 entries in OSVDB that Metasploit is missing a check for, that have a high impact. Perhaps this list would be useful to HD and the folks over at Metasploit to determine which exploits need to be included next. As you can see there is a lot more you can do with it. Check out the OSVDB Advanced Search and play with it a bit!

As mentioned this is just the first step and is what we believe will be the basis for much more to come. OSVDB is positioned to be the central source to help review and determine the completeness of commercial security solutions. We believe that OSVDB has an extremely high coverage of all disclosed vulnerabilities and will be able to provide insight into what vulnerabilities are covered (or missing) from a given scanner or tool. We will be able to show the gaps and even provide guidance to users as to which scanner or tool would be best for their organization. Instead of listening to a sales pitch that says “trust us we cover the most vulnerabilities!”, OSVDB will have real data to show that Product X has more coverage than Product Y. We will be in a position to allow a security practitioner to ensure that the products that are critical to their organization are covered in the scanner they are potentially purchasing. As shown above, we can show which vulnerabilities do not have checks (Metasploit, Nessus, Snort, etc) for critical vulnerabilities.

You know… when we find some time it would be a great idea for OSVDB to conduct a bake off on coverage between the top vulnerability scanners and IDS/IPS products. This of course relies on having vendors that are open and share their vulnerability mappings in a format that can be imported into OSVDB. So far, Nikto, Metasploit and Tenable’s Nessus have provided us with these mappings. Another upcoming feature will be a system that allows these vendors to automatically upload updated mappings to keep OSVDB current. Three vendors down, who will be the next to step up?

Some day.

Reviewing(4) CVE

As I was working on OSVDB tonight I spent some time on the CVE website. I decided to quickly review the current list of CVE-Compatible Products and Services ( and noticed that OSVDB was not on the list. I was pretty confused as I thought we should have been given that we submitted the paperwork many years ago. When we first submitted the only requirement that we were not able to meet was showing the difference of CAN or CVE based on the status of the entry. We thought this was quite silly as it didn’t appear to be used much and historically entries that met criteria would stay in CAN status for years. This lead us to send mail to the CVE staff asking about the designations and if they still thought it practical. The responses we recieved were informative and reasonable, but they expressed doubt on if it still had value and if they would continue to distinguish. We indicated that was a good call, and that we would not change OSVDB to accommodate that distinction as we saw no value in it under the current CVE. A few months later, CVE announced that they were no longer supporting CAN vs CVE and that moving forward, all new entries would be CVE. I figured OSVDB was good to go for compatibility at that point… but apparently not. After some more digging I then found that we were only listed on the Declarations to Be CVE-Compatible page ( Obviously we have missed something and hope to get it corrected in short order, and certainly hope it won’t involve more paperwork.

Speaking of voting, if you look at a CVE entry there are a couple things that stand out as a bit odd considering CVE dropped support for the CAN status. There are several fields such as Status, Phase and Voting that no longer affect or improve the information made available by CVE. For example, if you look at most of the recent CVE entries you see something such as the following:

Candidate This CVE Identifier has "Candidate" status and must be reviewed and accepted by the CVE Editorial Board before it can be updated to official "Entry" status on the CVE List. It may be modified or even rejected in the future.
Assigned (20090602)

If you go back further in time and check out an early CVE entry, for example the CVE referenced in OSVDB 1 (ColdFusion Application Server exprcalc.cfm OpenFilePath Variable Arbitrary File Disclosure), you will see something a bit different. The same fields are present but there is additional information and comments populated in those same fields. Take a look at CVE-2004-0230:

Candidate This CVE Identifier has "Candidate" status and must be reviewed and accepted by the CVE Editorial Board before it can be updated to official "Entry" status on the CVE List. It may be modified or even rejected in the future.
Modified (19991210-01)
ACCEPT(3) Frech, Ozancin, Balinsky
MODIFY(1) Wall
NOOP(1) Baker
REVIEWING(1) Christey
Wall> The reference should be ASB99-01 (Expression Evaluator Security Issues)
make application plural since there are three sample applications
(openfile.cfm, displayopenedfile.cfm, and exprcalc.cfm).
Christey> The CD:SF-EXEC and CD:SF-LOC content decisions apply here.
Since there are 3 separate "executables" with the same
(or similar) problem, we need to make sure that CD:SF-EXEC
determines what to do here. There is evidence that some
of these .cfm scripts have an "include" file, and if so,
then CD:SF-LOC says that we shouldn’t make separate entries
for each of these scripts. On the other hand, the initial
L0pht discovery didn’t include all 3 of these scripts, and
as far as I can tell, Allaire had patched the first problem
before the others were discovered. So, CD:DISCOVERY-DATE
may argue that we should split these because the problems
were discovered and patched at different times.

In any case, this candidate can not be accepted until the
Editorial Board has accepted the CD:SF-EXEC, CD:SF-LOC,
and CD:DISCOVERY-DATE content decisions.

You can see that it is still a candidate, but it is in a modified phase and there are some comments that provide additional insight into what the CVE guys are thinking on this vulnerability. Now to my favorite part, the voting. You can see that there are actually some votes on this one! There are 3 ACCEPT, 1 MODIFY, 1 NOOP and 1 REVIEWING. I love the fact that Christey is still reviewing this entry. You have to hand it to him he is very thorough in his work.. I knew he was passionate but to invest close to 10 years reviewing this entry is some real dedication! Perhaps he wants to REJECT but is waiting until his vote can be the deciding factor? =)

Other “legacy” entries can be found in CVE that do not meet their current standards. For example, CVE-1999-0651 (and a couple dozen like it) cover a particular service running. This is actually somewhat of a precursor to what became CWE:



(under review)
• Severity Rating • Fix Information • Vulnerable Software Versions • SCAP Mappings
The rsh/rlogin service is running.
Note: References are provided for the convenience of the reader to help distinguish between vulnerabilities. The list is not intended to be complete.
Candidate This CVE Identifier has "Candidate" status and must be reviewed and accepted by the CVE Editorial Board before it can be updated to official "Entry" status on the CVE List. It may be modified or even rejected in the future.
Proposed (19990804)
ACCEPT(2) Wall, Baker
MODIFY(1) Frech
NOOP(1) Christey
REJECT(1) Northcutt
Christey> aka "shell" on UNIX systems (at least Solaris) in the
/etc/inetd.conf file.
Frech> associated to:

Candidate assigned on 19990607 and proposed on 19990804

Even that far back, other databases (notably ISS X-Force) were doing the same. In the case of X-Force, those mappings had a more logical place given their database supported a vulnerability scanner. A year or two ago, out of curiosity, OSVDB formally requested a legacy entry like this one be retired as it no longer met standards for inclusion in CVE. As far as we know, the request is still being reviewed =)

In all seriousness, the guys at CVE are great folks and provide a much-needed service in the security industry. We have gotten to know many of them and work very closely with them regarding vulnerabilities, disclosure and related topics. We really have nothing but nice things to say about them despite the occasional joke we throw out there from time to time! Further, I know when OSVDB started there were a lot of things that seemed like the “right” thing to do… or the “right” way to do it. But the reality was and still is that the sheer volume of vulnerabilties that must be processed is enormous. The amount of time it takes just to figure out what is going on is hard enough to keep up with whether you have a paid staff or are a volunteer organization like OSVDB. We have tried to stay true to our roots but have had to make several changes to processes and standards over time to evolve. As we have been preaching for some time, VDBs need to keep evolving to better serve the industry. While it may be painful at first, it frequently leads to a more streamlined process that saves time and headache for years to come. Perhaps it is time for even our friends over at CVE to take a look at their processes and figure out what makes sense to continue and what should be retired.

Any votes?

ACCEPT(2) Jkouns, Jericho
NOOP(2) Dave, Lyger

Low Key Vegas

The Open Security Foundation and OSVDB members will once again be in Vegas this year. However for some reason we are all a bit tired….. so this year will be pretty low key! While we do not have anything officially planned most of the crew will be around for Defcon…….. so If you want to meet up to talk life, vulns, dataloss and drink a couple beers drop us a line.

Open Security Foundation at RSA

A few members of the Open Security Foundation will be at RSA for a couple days. If anyone is going to be there and would like to meet up please let us know. At this point, we have most of the day on Tuesday open. Also, if you have any free day passes to the conference let us know that as well! =)

OSVDB Discussed on Faceoff Podcast

We just recently noticed that OSVDB was discussed during a podcast called Faceoff started by Jade Robbins and Mark Sanborn. In Episode 5: Scaling to Hit it Big, at about 19:54, they talk about OSVDB for several minutes. They cover the project in general and also review several of the basic features of OSVDB and how someone can use the site. They speak about the search capabilities and even mention that OSVDB has a vulnerbaility from back in 1965. This was submitted by Ryan Russell as part of our oldest vulnerability contest and I can now say Ryan has finally received his OSVDB schwag….. only took a couple years for him to get it! =)

They also explain how in addition to the website that the OSVDB database itself can be downloaded and used as well. To clarify a point they discuss, once you create an account with OSVDB you can download the database as many times as you want. They also spend some time discussing our Watchlist feature which I thought was pretty cool that it was mentioned. For those that are not aware, when you create an account you can then setup two types of Watchlists.

The Vendor/Product Watch list
This watchlist will alert you to vulnerabilities for specific products that you subscribe to. Alerts are generated when a vulnerability is updated to include the product and vendor information. Soon, we may introduce a feature that will enable alerting as soon as the vulnerability is processed through our systems.

The Mailing List Aggregation Watch list
OSVDB allows you to subscribe to roughly 20 vendor advisory mailing lists. The advisory mailings are sent to OSVDB, we process them, and forward them on to you. That way, rather than managing 20 individual advisory subscriptions, you only need to manage one through OSVDB.

Thanks to the guys at Faceoff for their support and it is worth listening to the entire podcast. It did make us laugh a bit as they commented at one point that WordPress has all kinds of vulnerabities. Most of our dedicated readers know the ongoing WordPress issues we had and our eventually move away from it! =)

Thanks also to Ryan Heimbuch for suggesting OSVDB to be reviewed.

OSVDB can also now be followed on Twitter: