[Full-disclosure] RE: Why Vulnerability Databases can't do everything
To: "'Steven M. Christey'" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2005 14:00:09 -0700
So I think that there should be a government agency that coordinates this
I mean.. Microsoft and other companies have proven time and time again that
they're not capable of taking security, usability, performance or
compatibility seriously. These cornholers at Microsoft aren't responsible
enough to tie their own shoes.
The problem with Microsoft is ATTITUDE.
When I say 'here is a bug' they have a friggin attitude problem.
Microsoft is too proud and too successful to be successful in the future.
I call for federal government intervention. Microsoft has abused all of us
for the last time.
I have a list of a dozen bugs in Microsoft Access; and I know of one bug in
SQL Server that those cornholers just wont fix. I mean-- SQL AUTHENTICATION
IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SECURE. RIGHT?
WHY IN THE _HELL_ DO WE PUT UP WITH THIS?
IT PUTS OUR SOLDIERS AT RISK. IT PUTS OUR NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS AT RISK.
Microsoft is too busy jerking off with Excel to do anything about it..
Pisses me off.
I'm sorry that you guys have sooooooooooooo many bug reports to deal with.
Microsoft has $60bn in the bank; they should be able to afford to fix a
couple of bugs here and there. $10m isn't jack shit when you have $60,000m
in the bank.
From: Steven M. Christey [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, July 15, 2005 11:36 AM
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: Why Vulnerability Databases can't do everything
Regarding a particular vulnerability database, Xavier Beaudouin
>They push advisory without testing and respect the usual way to inform
>developper as it should.
(name omitted simply because it could have been about any vuln
No doubt a lot of what I'm about to say was covered by Brian Martin at
CanSecWest this year, however...
Vulnerability databases and notification services have to pore through
approximately 100 new public vulnerability reports a week.
Correction: that's HUNDREDS of reports, from diverse and often unproven
sources, for about 100 unique vulnerabilities per week.
A LARGE number of vendors and maintainers either:
(1) are unresponsive to email inquiries (about half my emails go
unanswered, about 20% of the ones that do answer, don't answer
(2) make you register or require you to be a customer to access
their product "support"
(3) don't have good contact information in the first place
(4) don't want to tell you anything about whether they've fixed a
publicly reported vuln or not, for fear of giving out too much
(5) sometimes require hand-holding if they don't understand the vuln
In addition, vulnerability databases and notification services have
(1) navigate through large numbers of poorly written researcher
advisories that are riddled with mistakes, which often were not
coordinated with the vendor in the first place (possibly due to
the own researcher's troubles contacting the vendors).
(2) somehow refine and present this stuff in a usable format for the
(3) where possible, obtain better information either by researching
the issue themselves or contacting the vendor
Most advisories, whether they come from researchers, vendors, or third
parties, suffer from one or more of the "Four I's" problems:
And think about what would be required for testing every claim - 100
vulnerabilities per week, many of them in commercial software, across every
conceivable platform, OS, and execution environment. Who has the labs and
the resources to cover all that? Nobody. Absolutely nobody.
You're talking a 10 million dollar investment AT LEAST just for a lab that
would cover major versions of the most popular software, and that probably
excludes the labor for coordinating with vendors or performing verification.
And this is happening in a context where:
- consumers want perfect information
- they want it the moment an issue becomes public
- they don't want to pay a lot for it
(which makes me think of the sign on my office door: "Vulnerabiltiy
information: fast, cheap, or good. Pick any two.")
In other words, it's just not possible to fully evaluate and verify every
single public vulnerability report. So, you prioritize and do what you can
with the available information.
Every VDB and notification service that I'm aware of absolutely HATES having
bad information. They will GLADLY post corrections when they are notified.
And, hopefully, they can share this information with other VDB's. OSVDB and
CVE have begun to do just that, and the result is an improvement in the
quality of both databases and, consequently, better information for all
Despite all the criticism of VDB's and notification services, they do a lot
of work behind the scenes that few people seem to fully appreciate. By no
means are they perfect, but you can't create perfection out of chaos.
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