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Open Source Vulnerability Database (OSVDB)

Tue Sep 21 10:40:36 2004 Open Source

From their website:

According to CERT's statistics, the number of computer security vulnerabilities found each year has risen over two thousand percent since 1995. Tracking these vulnerabilities and their cures is critical for those who protect networked systems against accidental misuse and deliberate attack, from home users and small businesses to globe-spanning enterprises.

Annual vulnerability announcements number in the thousands, well beyond the capacity for human memory to manage. Well-organized databases, with verified contents and flexible search abilities, are required if these vulnerabilities are to be controlled by the security community. The OSVDB provides the necessary structure, technology, and content to support that community requirement for vulnerability management.


The OSVDB's main goal is to be complete and to be without bias. It should serve as one-stop shopping for all vulnerability needs. Developers creating vulnerability-assessment tools, system administrators protecting servers and networks, business staff assessing risks and remedies, academic researchers documenting analyzing the past and future of network security: all expend effort to identify vulnerabilities, all work to document them consistently, all can benefit from a single, comprehensive source of vulnerability data. The OSVDB is this source, reducing duplication of effort while it promotes data consistency.

The OSVDB is unbiased and neutral in its practices for accepting, reviewing, and publishing vulnerabilities. Its open acceptance of community input and internal review processes ensure that the vulnerability database is not colored by vendor-related biases. OSVDB organizers believe that more than one vulnerability database is needed to meet the full variety of community requirements. While it references the other vulnerability databases, it develops its own database entries to ensure that there are no restrictions on distribution and re-use of the OSVDB vulnerability data: its contents are free of cost and free of restrictions on use.

They have several levels of statuses on various reported vulnerabilities, mangled, stable, and new among others. Stable are the most useful and are notices that have been reviewed, confirmed, and made "sane" by the OSVD maintainers.

In addition to the public participation angle it provides several methods of accessing the database. The most immediately useful one is a RSS feed of the latest stable entries, however other ways to access the database are provided. The database has been translated into XML and various scripts are available to load the data into PostgreSQL, MySQL, and MS Access databases.

Also of interest may be the XML-RPC server they provide. It is designed to provide a standardized way to retrieve data from the OSVD for integration into security tools, keep other databases up to date, and anything else that may be useful.

All in all it looks like it could make it much easier for a busy administrator to keep track of any issues that may crop up time to time in a timely and consistent manner.

Also they have recently released a vendor database to make it easy to find contact information for vendors.

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More Articles by © Drag Sidious

---September 21, 2004

It's good that they do an rss feed, but it's too bad they don't do it right.

When you provide a feed, you need to add a header that lets rss aware products (like the latest Firefox) know that this is available. The header is simple:

&lt;link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" href="/aplawrence.rss" title="RSS feed for aplawrence.com"&gt;


---September 21, 2004

I sent the webmaster a e-mail about it, explaining what you said. I figure check back in a week and see how much he pays attention to his mail!


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