CVE vs KEV – Understanding the Differences

The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) program is a catalog of publicly known cybersecurity vulnerabilities that have unique identifiers assigned to them. CVE IDs are used to track and communicate information about vulnerabilities, including their severity levels, potential impact, and methods of mitigation. CVE IDs are assigned by the CVE Program, which is managed by the MITRE Corporation and funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) catalog, on the other hand, is a list of vulnerabilities that have been actively exploited by threat actors in the wild. The KEV catalog is managed by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is responsible for protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber threats. The KEV catalog is updated regularly with new vulnerabilities that have been identified as being actively exploited, and it is used by federal agencies to prioritize their patching efforts.

Key Takeaways

  • The CVE program is a catalog of publicly known cybersecurity vulnerabilities with unique identifiers assigned to them.
  • The KEV catalog is a list of vulnerabilities that have been actively exploited by threat actors in the wild and is managed by CISA.
  • Federal agencies use the KEV catalog to prioritize their patching efforts and reduce the risk of cyber attacks.

Understanding CVE and KEV

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) is a dictionary of standardized names for vulnerabilities and other information security exposures. It provides a common language for describing vulnerabilities and exposures across different systems, making it easier to share data and collaborate on security efforts.

On the other hand, the Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) catalog is a list of vulnerabilities that have been exploited “in the wild.” The purpose of KEV is to provide an authoritative source of vulnerabilities that have been exploited and to help organizations prioritize their patching efforts. While focusing on vulnerabilities that have been exploited isn’t sufficient, it is a critical step in reducing an organization’s overall risk.

The KEV catalog is maintained by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and is updated regularly. It is a list of vulnerabilities that federal executive civilian branch agencies are required to patch on an accelerated timeline, as prescribed by Binding Operational Directive 22-01 (BOD-22-01). There are three criteria for adding a vulnerability to the KEV: (1) a CVE ID; (2) clear remediation guidance, and (3) reliable evidence of exploitation.

While CVE is a dictionary of standardized names for vulnerabilities and other information security exposures, KEV is a list of vulnerabilities that have been exploited in the wild. CVE is maintained by the MITRE Corporation and is widely used by the cybersecurity community, while KEV is maintained by CISA and is primarily used by federal executive civilian branch agencies.

CVE and KEV are both important tools in the fight against cyber threats. CVE provides a common language for describing vulnerabilities, while KEV helps organizations prioritize their patching efforts based on real-world threats. By using both tools, organizations can better protect themselves against cyber attacks.

Role of CISA

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) plays a critical role in managing vulnerabilities and reducing the risk of cyber attacks. CISA is responsible for identifying, defining, and cataloging publicly disclosed cybersecurity vulnerabilities through the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) program. This program is sponsored by CISA and run by a non-profit, federally funded research and development center operated by The MITRE Corporation.

CISA also maintains the Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) catalog, which is an authoritative source of vulnerabilities that have been exploited in the wild. The purpose of the KEV catalog is to help organizations manage vulnerabilities and keep pace with threat activity. Recently, the KEV catalog has grown to cover more than 1,000 vulnerabilities.

To reduce the significant risk of known exploited vulnerabilities, CISA has established a process for ongoing remediation of vulnerabilities that carry significant risk to the federal enterprise. This process is outlined in BOD 22-01, which directs federal agencies to prioritize remediation efforts for vulnerabilities identified in the CISA-managed catalog of known exploited vulnerabilities.

In addition to managing vulnerabilities, CISA also provides guidance and resources to help organizations improve their cybersecurity posture. This includes best practices for securing networks and systems, as well as information about emerging threats and vulnerabilities.

Overall, CISA’s role in managing vulnerabilities and providing guidance and resources is critical to protecting the nation’s critical infrastructure and reducing the risk of cyber attacks.

Exploitation and Vulnerabilities

Identifying Vulnerabilities

Vulnerabilities are flaws or weaknesses in software, hardware, or systems that can be exploited by attackers to gain unauthorized access, steal data, or cause other types of damage. Vulnerabilities can be introduced during the development process, or they can be discovered later through testing, monitoring, or incident response.

The Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) is a framework for assessing the severity of vulnerabilities based on their impact metrics, such as exploitability, impact, and complexity. CVSS scores range from 0 to 10, with higher scores indicating greater severity.

Exploitation Status

Exploitation refers to the use of malicious code by an attacker to take advantage of a vulnerability. Exploitation can be active or passive. Active exploitation means that an attacker is actively using the vulnerability to attack a target. Passive exploitation means that the vulnerability exists, but no known attacks using it have been observed.

The Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) catalog is a list of vulnerabilities that have been actively exploited in the wild. The catalog provides an authoritative source of information about vulnerabilities that pose a significant risk to organizations.

Risk and Severity Assessment

The risk and severity of a vulnerability depend on several factors, including the ease of exploitation, the impact of a successful attack, and the availability of mitigations or workarounds. Organizations should prioritize vulnerabilities based on their risk and severity to ensure that they are addressing the most critical issues first.

Patch management tools can help organizations assess the risk and severity of vulnerabilities and prioritize them for remediation. Organizations should also consider the impact of a successful attack when assessing the risk and severity of vulnerabilities.

Mitigation and Remediation

Mitigation and remediation are the processes of reducing the risk and severity of vulnerabilities. Mitigation involves implementing temporary measures to reduce the likelihood or impact of a successful attack. Remediation involves addressing the root cause of the vulnerability and implementing permanent fixes.

Organizations should prioritize vulnerabilities based on their risk and severity and develop a patch management strategy to address them. Patch management tools can automate the process of identifying, prioritizing, and deploying patches to vulnerable systems. Organizations should also consider implementing compensating controls, such as network segmentation or access controls, to reduce the risk of exploitation.

Operational Directives and Catalogs

Binding Operational Directives

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issues Binding Operational Directives (BODs) to federal agencies to direct their actions in addressing cybersecurity risks. BODs are mandatory and require immediate action from federal agencies. One such BOD is BOD 22-01, which aims to reduce the significant risk of known exploited vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability Catalogs

The National Vulnerability Database (NVD) is a comprehensive catalog of known vulnerabilities that provides a standardized way to identify, prioritize, and remediate vulnerabilities. The NVD is maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and is publicly available.

CISA’s Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) catalog is a subset of the NVD that lists vulnerabilities that have been exploited “in the wild.” The KEV catalog provides an authoritative source of vulnerabilities that carry significant risk to federal information systems. All federal civilian executive branch (FCEB) agencies are required to remediate vulnerabilities in the KEV catalog within prescribed timeframes under BOD 22-01.

Vulnerability management is an essential component of any organization’s cybersecurity program. By regularly scanning systems for vulnerabilities and prioritizing remediation efforts based on risk, organizations can reduce their attack surface and improve their overall security posture.

Security Research and CVE Program

Security research is a crucial aspect of cybersecurity. It involves identifying vulnerabilities and threats in software, hardware, and networks. Security researchers play a significant role in identifying and reporting vulnerabilities to the vendors or manufacturers. They help in improving the security of the products and services by providing valuable insights into the vulnerabilities and threats.

The CVE program is an initiative that aims to standardize the identification of vulnerabilities in software and hardware products. The CVE program assigns a unique CVE ID to each vulnerability, which helps in tracking and managing the vulnerabilities. The CVE program is managed by the CVE Numbering Authority (CNA), which is responsible for assigning CVE IDs and maintaining the CVE list.

A CVE ID is a unique identifier that is assigned to a vulnerability. It helps in identifying and tracking the vulnerability across different systems and products. The CVE ID is used by security researchers, vendors, and users to track and manage vulnerabilities. The CVE ID is also used by security products, such as vulnerability scanners and patch management tools, to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities.

The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) list is a publicly available list of vulnerabilities that have been assigned CVE IDs. The CVE list provides a standardized way of identifying and tracking vulnerabilities across different products and systems. The CVE list is used by security researchers, vendors, and users to track and manage vulnerabilities.

In summary, security research plays a crucial role in identifying and reporting vulnerabilities. The CVE program provides a standardized way of identifying and tracking vulnerabilities through the assignment of CVE IDs. The CVE list is a publicly available list of vulnerabilities that have been assigned CVE IDs, which helps in tracking and managing vulnerabilities across different products and systems.

Government and Private Industry Involvement

Both federal civilian executive branch (FCEB) agencies and state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments are encouraged to prioritize the remediation of known exploited vulnerabilities (KEVs) listed in the KEV catalog by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Although not bound by BOD 22-01, private industry can also significantly strengthen their security and resilience posture by prioritizing the remediation of vulnerabilities listed in the KEV catalog.

CISA’s KEV catalog is a high-impact list of vulnerabilities that are confirmed to have been exploited or are actively being exploited. With the KEV catalog actively having less than 0.5% (839/197569) of all identified Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) vulnerabilities, prioritizing the remediation of vulnerabilities in the KEV catalog can be an efficient and free way to address some of the riskiest vulnerabilities.

The involvement of FCEB agencies and SLTT governments in reducing the risk of known exploited vulnerabilities is further emphasized by Binding Operational Directive (BOD) 22-01. This directive requires FCEB agencies to remediate all KEVs listed in the KEV catalog within a specified timeframe. In addition, FCEB agencies must report their progress to CISA.

State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are also encouraged to follow the guidelines set forth in BOD 22-01. Although not required to report their progress to CISA, SLTT governments can benefit from prioritizing the remediation of vulnerabilities listed in the KEV catalog.

Private industry involvement in reducing the risk of known exploited vulnerabilities is not mandated by BOD 22-01, but it is strongly encouraged. Every organization, including those in private industry, can significantly strengthen their security and resilience posture by prioritizing the remediation of vulnerabilities listed in the KEV catalog.

In conclusion, the involvement of FCEB agencies, SLTT governments, and private industry in reducing the risk of known exploited vulnerabilities is crucial in maintaining a strong security and resilience posture. Prioritizing the remediation of vulnerabilities listed in the KEV catalog can be an efficient and free way to address some of the riskiest vulnerabilities.

Advanced Security Measures

To improve the security posture and resilience of federal information systems, organizations must prioritize their vulnerabilities. A prioritization framework can help organizations identify which vulnerabilities pose the greatest risk and should be remediated first. Automated vulnerability scanning services can also help organizations detect vulnerabilities and prioritize them based on their severity.

Adversary activity and malicious code can be detected using honeypots. Honeypots are decoy systems that are designed to attract attackers and collect information about their tactics and techniques. Successful exploitation of a vulnerability can also be monitored using honeypots.

Organizations should follow vendor instructions to remediate vulnerabilities. Code execution vulnerabilities, in particular, can be exploited to gain access to sensitive information or execute malicious code. Therefore, it is important to remediate these vulnerabilities as soon as possible.

Stakeholder-specific vulnerability categorization can help organizations prioritize vulnerabilities based on their impact on different stakeholders. For instance, vulnerabilities that affect metadata may be prioritized differently than vulnerabilities that affect sensitive information.

Advanced security measures such as APIs, brute force detection, and web application firewalls can also help organizations detect and prevent attacks. Cloud service providers that comply with FedRAMP can provide additional security controls and assurance.

CVSS scoring can help organizations assess the severity of vulnerabilities. However, it is important to note that CVSS scoring is not always accurate and should be used in conjunction with other factors such as the likelihood of exploitation.

Overall, organizations must take a comprehensive approach to software security and prioritize vulnerabilities based on their impact and likelihood of exploitation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between CVE and Common Weakness Enumeration (CWE)?

CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) is a dictionary of publicly disclosed cybersecurity vulnerabilities and exposures. It provides a standardized naming scheme for vulnerabilities and a centralized repository for vulnerability data. On the other hand, CWE (Common Weakness Enumeration) is a community-developed list of common software weaknesses. It provides a common language and taxonomy for describing software security weaknesses and is used to identify and prioritize weaknesses.

What is the significance of CVE-2023-36884?

CVE-2023-36884 is a critical vulnerability in the Apache Struts framework that allows attackers to execute arbitrary code on a targeted system. This vulnerability is significant because it affects a widely used software framework and can be exploited remotely without authentication.

What is the CISA KEV API and how does it work?

The CISA KEV (Known Exploited Vulnerabilities) API is a web service provided by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that allows users to query the KEV catalog programmatically. The API returns a list of vulnerabilities that have been identified as being actively exploited in the wild. The API works by sending HTTP requests to the CISA KEV server and receiving JSON responses.

When is the due date for CISA KEV Tenable?

The due date for CISA KEV Tenable is determined by the severity of the vulnerability. According to CISA’s BOD 22-01, the most urgent vulnerabilities must be patched within 2 weeks, and the least urgent within 6 months.

What are the latest vulnerabilities and exploits for 2023?

As of November 4, 2023, there is no specific information available regarding the latest vulnerabilities and exploits for 2023. However, CISA maintains a catalog of Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) that includes vulnerabilities that have been actively exploited in the wild.

Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) is a catalog of vulnerabilities that have been actively exploited in the wild. The catalog is maintained by CISA and is used to prioritize vulnerability remediation efforts. KEV is related to CVE in that CVE provides a standardized naming scheme for vulnerabilities that are included in the KEV catalog.