The following documentation describes common elements of a Vulnerability Note document. Not all Vulnerability Notes contain every element. Vulnerability Notes contain one or more vulnerabilities and one or more vendors.
Vulnerability Notes Elements
The title is a short description that summarizes the nature of the problem and the affected software components. While the name may include a clause describing the impact of the vulnerability, most names are focused on the nature of the defect that caused the problem to occur.
The overview is an abstract of the vulnerability that provides a summary of the problem and its impact to the reader. In a terse Vulnerability Note the Title and Overview may be similar.
The vulnerability description contains one or more paragraphs of text describing the vulnerability. To a reasonable extent, this section focuses on the nature of the vulnerability, and the following section focuses on the potential consequences or impacts.
The impact section describes the benefit that an attacker might gain by exploiting the vulnerability. It also frequently includes preconditions the attacker must meet to be able to exploit the vulnerability.
The solution section contains information about how to correct the vulnerability. This guidance is usually general, while more vendor-specific information can be found in the Vendor Information section. The Solution section often includes workarounds or mitigation information in addition to the usual advice to "apply updates." Sub-headings are often used and appear roughly in order with more specific and effective advice first.
This section (previously titled "Systems Affected") includes a list of vendors who may be affected by the vulnerability. Specifically, vendors listed here have been notified by the CERT/CC because we are reasonably concerned that the vendors may be affected by a vulnerability. Listed vendors may or may not be affected.
The list of vendors is sorted first by status (Affected, Not Affected, and Unknown), then by vendor records.
An individual vendor element is called a Vendor Record. Vendor Records have several sub-elements. For a Vulnerability Note with multiple vulnerabilities, each vulnerability and its corresponding Vendor Status and Vendor Statement can be listed individually within a Vendor Record.
This element indicates in broad terms whether the vendor has any products that we considers to be vulnerable or in some way affected by the vulnerability. In many cases, the relationship between a vendor's products and a vulnerability is more complex than a simple "Vulnerable" or "Not Vulnerable" status. More detailed information is often available in the Vendor Statement and other elements of the Vendor Record.
Vendor Status is not time-dependent, that is, status does not change once the vendor has released updated software or mitigation advice.
By default, vendors are marked as "Unknown." "Unknown" may indicate that we have notified the vendor (See Date Notified) but have not received or processed a response. "Unknown" may also indicate that we have not contacted the vendor, possibly because we were unable to identify a security point of contact with reasonable effort.
If we have strong evidence (such as first-hand knowledge or vendor acknowledgement), we mark vendors as "Affected."
We accept assertions from vendors that they are "Not Affected" unless we have strong evidence to the contrary.
Vendors can provide their own statements, which we reproduce verbatim (or very rarely with minor formatting and grammar edits). While we try to resolve disagreements and misunderstandings, we accept that a vendor may disagree with us, and the Vendor Statement provides a way to convey the vendor's position.
References are URLs provided by the vendor or the CERT/CC.
This element is provided by the CERT/CC and may include additional information or commentary on a specific Vendor Record.
As of the release of VINCE in May 2020, we are no longer providing Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) scores. Many older Vulnerability Notes include CVSSv2 vectors and scores. For those Vulnerability Notes, the following guidance applies.
CVSS metrics appear in vulnerability notes published after March 27, 2012. We score Temporal metrics using information available at the time the vulnerability note is first published. Temporal metric information may or may not be updated after initial publication. We score Environmental metrics with a broad scope, typically some approximation of the whole internet. To use CVSS effectively, it is important to calculate your own current and specific Temporal and Environmental metrics. For vulnerability notes that cover more than one vulnerability (e.g., multiple CVE IDs), the CVSS metrics will apply to the vulnerability with the highest CVSS base metric.
Reasons for our choice to stop using CVSS can be found in Towards Improving CVSS and Prioritizing Vulnerability Response: A Stakeholder-Specific Vulnerability Categorization.
References are a collection of relevant URLs. We attempt to list original source material first, and sometimes include references to high quality second-hand material as well.
We acknowledge individuals who report vulnerabilities to us. This section of the document identifies who initially discovered the vulnerability, anyone who was instrumental in the development of the vulnerability note, and the primary author of the document.
Other information included in a vulnerability note.
CVE ID is used by Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) to uniquely identify a vulnerability. The ID is also a link to additional information on the NIST National Vulnerability Database (NVD) web site about the vulnerability. While the mapping between CVE names and vulnerability IDs are usually one-to-one, in some cases multiple vulnerabilities may map to one CVE ID, or vice versa.
If a US-CERT Alert was published for this vulnerability, this field will contain a pointer to the alert.
If a CERT Advisory was published for this vulnerability, this field will contain a pointer to the advisory. Beginning January 28, 2004, CERT Advisories became a core component of US-CERT Alerts.
This is the date on which the vulnerability was first known to the public, to the best of our knowledge. Usually this date is when the vulnerability note was first published, when an exploit was first discovered, when the vendor first distributed a patch publicly, or when a description of the vulnerability was posted to a public mailing list. If you're aware of a public reference to the vulnerability that appeared prior to our date, please let us know. By default, this date is set to be our vulnerability note publication date.
Date First Published
This is the date when we first published the vulnerability note. This date should be the date public or later.
Date Last Updated
This is the date the vulnerability note was last updated. Since each vulnerability note is updated as we receive new information, this date may change frequently. This date is also updated when a vendor information document changes for the vulnerability note so that you can easily locate notes with new information in the vendor statements.
Note: Vulnerability Notes published after March 27, 2012 will use CVSS metrics instead.
The metric value is a number between 0 and 180 that assigns an approximate severity to the vulnerability. This number considers several factors, including:
- Is information about the vulnerability widely available or known?
- Is the vulnerability being exploited?
- Is the Internet Infrastructure at risk because of this vulnerability?
- How many systems on the Internet are at risk from this vulnerability?
- What is the impact of exploiting the vulnerability?
- How easy is it to exploit the vulnerability?
- What are the preconditions required to exploit the vulnerability?
Because the questions are answered with approximate values that may differ significantly from one site to another, users should not rely too heavily on the metric for prioritizing vulnerabilities. However, it may be useful for separating the very serious vulnerabilities from the large number of less severe vulnerabilities described in the database. The questions are not all weighted equally, and the resulting score is not linear (a vulnerability with a metric of 40 is not twice as severe as one with a metric of 20).
This field contains the revision number for this document. You can use this field to determine whether the document has changed since the last time you viewed it.
This is the date that we notified the vendor of the vulnerability. In some cases, this may be the date that the vendor first contacted us, or it may be the earliest date when the vendor is known to have been aware of the vulnerability (for example, if they published a patch or an advisory).
This is when the vendor provided a vendor statement.
This is when the vendor information was last updated. As vendors produce patches and publish advisories, vendor statement, vendor information or addendum fields may be updated, affecting this date.
This is the vendor's official response to our queries about the vulnerability. With little more than typographical edits, this information is provided directly by the vendor and does not necessarily reflect our opinions. In fact, vendors are welcome to provide statements which contradict other information in the vulnerability note. We suggest that the vendors include relevant information about correcting the problem, such as pointers to software patches and security advisories. We are highly confident that information in this field comes from the vendor. Statements are usually PGP signed or otherwise authenticated.
This is information we are reasonably confident is from the vendor. Typically this includes public documents (that were not sent to us by the vendor) and statements that are not strongly authenticated.
URL references to information from the vendor about the vulnerability. This field does not appear unless we have populated it with URL references.
This addendum is one or more paragraphs of text from us commenting on this vulnerability. These are not statements from the vendor, and they are usually present when we disagree with the vendor's assessment of the problem, when the vendor did not provide a statement, or when we believe that we can contribute something in addition to the vendor-supplied statement.
If you have additional questions about the fields contained in our database, please let us know.