In today’s digital world, the necessity to secure valuable data and information is more important than ever. As more businesses and individuals rely on technological advancements, the risks associated with vulnerabilities within systems and applications increase. To address these risks, it’s crucial to be aware of publicly disclosed security vulnerabilities that may affect your systems or software. This knowledge allows organizations and individuals to be proactive in protecting their digital assets and ensuring overall security.
One way to stay informed about these security vulnerabilities is through vulnerability databases. These databases serve as comprehensive resources that catalog publicly disclosed cybersecurity vulnerabilities in a standardized format, making it easier for individuals and professionals to search, use, and incorporate the information into their security measures. With a wide range of databases available, it’s essential to identify the most powerful and reputable ones to assist you in staying up-to-date with the latest vulnerabilities and securing your systems against potential threats.
In this article, we explore six powerful vulnerability databases that provide valuable information on publicly disclosed security vulnerabilities. These databases cater to a wide range of users, from security experts to general IT professionals, ensuring comprehensive coverage of the most relevant and up-to-date security vulnerabilities.
But, before we directly land on the list of powerful vulnerability databases, let’s learn abut these additional things. It’s not mandatory for everybody to read. However, it is for those who want comprehensive information about the Vulnerability Management and Vulnerability Database.
In this comprehensive blog post, we will cover the following topics:
- What are security vulnerabilities and how they are tracked
- Understanding CVE IDs, CVSS scoring system, and vectors
- Introduction to CVE Numbering Authorities (CNAs)
- Where to search publicly disclosed vulnerabilities
- List of powerful vulnerability databases
What are Security Vulnerabilities? And How Security Vulnerabilities Are Being Tracked?
Security vulnerabilities are flaws or weaknesses in software code or system configurations that can be exploited by attackers to gain unauthorized access to a system or network. Once inside, attackers can leverage authorizations and privileges to compromise systems and assets. Vulnerabilities can be found in IT, network, cloud, web, and mobile application systems.
Some examples of vulnerabilities include:
- Buffer overflows
- SQL injection flaws
- Cross-site scripting bugs
- Default or weak passwords
- Race conditions
Vulnerabilities are tracked and documented in databases so that affected vendors, manufacturers, and users are aware of the issue and can take action to remediate or mitigate the vulnerability.
Common practices for vulnerability tracking include:
- Reporting: Security researchers and users submit newly discovered vulnerabilities to vendors, CERTs, or public vulnerability databases.
- Assignment of CVE ID: Once a vulnerability report is verified, it is assigned a CVE ID (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) for unique identification.
- Publication: Details of vulnerability are publicly documented in databases like National Vulnerability Database (NVD).
- Severity analysis: The vulnerability severity is scored using the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS).
- Remediation tracking: The fix status of the vulnerability is updated over time.
Thorough vulnerability tracking and robust databases allow the security community to assess the risk posed by flaws and prioritize remediation efforts.
The Vulnerability Management team plays a crustal role in identifying, analyzing, assessing, reporting, and mitigating security vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by attackers. So collected or reported vulnerabilities are recorded or stored in several databases by assigning them a CVE ID. This is how the concept of the Vulnerability Database begins. Before we go further, let’s understand a few more concepts like CVE ID, CVSS Scoring System, And Vectors of CVSS.
Understand CVE ID, CVSS Scoring System, And Vectors of CVSS
When dealing with publicly disclosed security vulnerabilities, it is essential to understand the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) identification, the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS), and the CVSS vectors. This understanding helps you evaluate the severity of vulnerabilities and prioritize your response.
CVE stands for Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures. It is a unique ID assigned to identify each publicly known security vulnerability.
The CVE ID consists of the following format:
- CVE – Constant identifier showing this is a CVE ID
- YYYY – The year the CVE ID was assigned
- NNNNN – A unique 5-digit number to identify the specific vulnerability
For example, CVE-2019-19781 was assigned in 2019 and has a unique 5-digit ID of 19781.
Once a vulnerability has been publicly documented and verified, it is added to the CVE master list, formally known as Vulnerability Database. The CVE ID helps to eliminate confusion by allowing all parties to refer to vulnerabilities in a standardized manner.
CVSS Scoring System
The Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) is an open framework used to quantify the severity of IT vulnerabilities. CVSS assigns a numeric score ranging from 0 to 10 to vulnerabilities, with 10 being the most severe.
The CVSS score represents the ease and impact of exploitation. The metrics used to calculate the score are divided into three metric groups:
Base – Represents the intrinsic characteristics of a vulnerability that do not change over time or user environments. This consists of:
- Attack Vector (AV) – How the vulnerability can be exploited e.g. network, adjacent, local, physical.
- Attack Complexity (AC) – The complexity of the attack required to exploit the vulnerability.
- Privileges Required (PR) – The level of privileges required for an attacker to exploit the flaw.
- User Interaction (UI) – If user interaction is required to exploit the vulnerability.
- Scope (S) – If a vulnerability in one component impacts resources beyond its security scope.
- Confidentiality (C), Integrity (I), Availability (A) Impact – The impact of CIA security principles if a vulnerability is exploited.
Temporal – Represents the characteristics of a vulnerability that may change over time but not user environments. This consists of:
- Exploit Code Maturity (E) – Reflects the maturity of available exploit code.
- Remediation Level (RL) – Represents the degree to which a vulnerability can be mitigated through fixes, patches, upgrades, etc.
- Report Confidence (RC) – Reflects the degree of confidence in the existence of the vulnerability and the credibility of the known technical details.
Environmental – Represents the characteristics of a vulnerability that are relevant and unique to a particular user’s environment. This consists of:
- Collateral Damage Potential (CDP) – The potential for loss of data assets, productivity or revenue if a vulnerability is exploited.
- Target Distribution (TD) – The number of vulnerable systems that exist in the wild.
- Security Requirements (CR, IR, AR) – The security requirements for confidentiality, integrity and availability in the user environment.
Using these metrics, CVSS applies a complex calculation to determine the final vulnerability severity score.
Vectors of CVSS
CVSS vectors are a standardized text representation of the metrics used to score a vulnerability.
The vector string contains each metric acronym, followed by the assigned value. For example:
This vector shows:
- CVSS version 3.1
- Attack vector is Network (N)
- Attack complexity is Low (L)
- No privileges required (N)
- No user interaction (N)
- The scope is Unchanged (U)
- High impact scores for confidentiality, integrity, availability (H)
The vector highlights the key metrics used to calculate the overall CVSS score for a vulnerability. It provides an easy way for humans to understand the rating factors at a glance.
A Short Introduction to CVE Numbering Authority (CNA)
The next question comes in who assigns the CVE IDs to the vulnerabilities and adds them to the database? The answer is CVE Numbering Authority (CNA). CNAs are organizations that have been authorized by the CVE Program to assign CVE identifiers to vulnerabilities affecting products within their agreed-upon scope. These organizations play a crucial role in ensuring that newly discovered vulnerabilities are assigned unique identifiers and properly documented for the public.
A CNA is responsible for establishing the scope of their authority, determining if a vulnerability falls within this scope, and assigning a unique CVE identifier to the vulnerability before its first public announcement. The CNA’s domain of authority can be specific to its own products or cover a broader range of products and vulnerabilities under its scope. Cooperation between CNAs ensures consistency and accuracy in the enumeration and documentation of vulnerabilities.
The CNA Rules provide guidelines for the assignment and management of CVE identifiers by CNAs. These rules outline the responsibilities and requirements for CNAs, including scope definition, vulnerability discovery and reporting, and proper documentation of vulnerabilities in the CVE List.
There are distinct levels in the CNA hierarchy: Root, Top-Level Root, CNA of Last Resort (CNA-LR), and Sub-CNAs. The most common and basic level of CNA is the Sub-CNA, which assigns CVE identifiers to vulnerabilities specifically within their domain of responsibility. CNAs work together with other CNAs, higher-level CNAs, and the CVE Program to maintain an efficient and streamlined CVE assignment process.
The role of CNAs includes:
- Receiving vulnerability reports from researchers, vendors, etc.
- Verifying reports and ensuring they represent distinct vulnerabilities warranting a CVE ID.
- Assigning a CVE ID from their unique block.
- Notifying the vulnerability submitter about the assigned CVE ID.
- Publishing CVE details to databases like NVD, their own security advisories, etc.
- Updating CVE information and notifying affected parties as more details become available.
CNAs are a vital part of the CVE ecosystem. They enable coordinated, reliable assignment of IDs across the rapidly evolving threat landscape. Currently, there are 307 CNAs (305 CNAs and 2 CNA-LRs) from 36 countries participating in the CVE Program.
Where do You Search for Publicly Disclosed Security Vulnerabilities?
There are several reputable databases that can be utilized to search for publicly disclosed security vulnerabilities. One of the most notable is the CVE List, a comprehensive catalog of publicly disclosed cybersecurity vulnerabilities managed by the CVE Numbering Authorities (CNAs). The CVE List is free to search, use, and incorporate into products and services. Organizations and security professionals rely on these resources to find details of known weaknesses impacting the products or technologies present in their environment.
Some places where publicly disclosed vulnerabilities can be searched include:
- National Vulnerability Database (NVD) – Extensive CVE vulnerability database maintained by NIST, based on CVE List feed. Integrates with CVSS and CPE.
- MITRE CVE List – Comprehensive list of CVE Records provided by MITRE.
- US-CERT Vulnerability Notes Database – Contains disclosure records published by CISA.
- Vulnerability search on vendor/manufacturer websites – Companies like Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco etc. provide vulnerability search capabilities on their own websites. Useful for product-specific flaws.
- Vulnerability databases – Resources like VulnDB, Vulners, Secunia Research Community etc. provide CVE vulnerability data. Some integrate exploit and patch info.
- Bug bounty platforms – Bugcrowd, HackerOne, etc. include limited vulnerability details disclosed through their bug bounty programs.
- GIT repositories – Many security tools and projects provide vulnerability data in GIT repositories that can be searched.
- Exploit databases – Sites like Exploit-DB contain proof-of-concept exploits that can reveal related vulnerabilities.
- Search engines – Google hacking for specific keywords can reveal security advisories and vulnerability reports.
This list provides a starting point on where security practitioners can search for vulnerability data pertinent to the systems and software relevant to their organization.
List of Powerful Vulnerability Databases
Now,, it’s time to take a deeper look into some of the most comprehensive and widely used public vulnerability databases that can be leveraged to streamline vulnerability management programs.
CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) is an international, community-driven security vulnerability database, which is maintained by the MITRE Corporation and funded by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The website cve.org serves as a public platform that allows users to freely search, use, and incorporate information into their products and services. Each CVE Identifier, or CVE ID, includes a description of the vulnerability or exposure, and reference information from vulnerability reports and advisories. It’s important to note that the CVE system does not include risk, impact, fix, or other technical information, and it does not provide vulnerability management or vulnerability assessment capabilities. Rather, it is a key component that these types of capabilities can leverage.
Mitre.org is a well-known organization that manages numerous cybersecurity initiatives, including the CVE Program. Established in 1999, the CVE Program aims to identify, define, and catalog publicly disclosed security vulnerabilities in a standardized manner. This helps security professionals, organizations, and developers effectively address and manage vulnerabilities across their systems.
Mitre.org is responsible for the distribution and maintenance of the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) database. The CVE database contains a comprehensive list of vulnerabilities identified by both experts and the cybersecurity community. Mitre.org ensures that every vulnerability listed in the CVE database receives a unique identifier, which makes it easier for practitioners to reference and search specific vulnerabilities.
One of the strengths of Mitre.org’s CVE Program is its ability to integrate with other cybersecurity services and tools. This helps organizations streamline their vulnerability management processes and make informed security decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information.
For users wishing to download the CVE database, Mitre.org provides it in JSON format. To access the database, users can visit the CVE website’s download page and download the desired data file. The availability of the CVE database in JSON format enables researchers and security professionals to easily parse the information and integrate it with their analytical tools and systems.
In conclusion, Mitre.org plays a vital role in managing the CVE Program and maintaining the CVE database. Its commitment to standardizing vulnerability information and providing seamless integration capabilities makes it a valuable resource for cybersecurity professionals and organizations.
National Vulnerability Database
The National Vulnerability Database (NVD) is a U.S. government repository of standards-based vulnerability management data. This data includes security checklist references, security-related software flaws, misconfigurations, product names, and impact metrics. Operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the NVD uses the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) system for its vulnerability identifiers.
While the CVE system provides a baseline for identifying vulnerabilities, the NVD goes a step further by providing more detailed vulnerability information including severity scores, impact metrics, and enhanced data to support vulnerability management.
For each vulnerability listed in the database, the NVD includes the vulnerability’s description, published and modified dates, references, and the vulnerability’s severity score as measured by the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). The NVD’s website provides users with the ability to search this database for information on specific vulnerabilities.
The NVD is a critical resource for organizations that want to protect their systems from known vulnerabilities. It allows security researchers, system administrators, and others to understand the nature of potential threats to their systems and to prioritize their actions based on the severity and potential impact of the vulnerabilities.
VulnDB is a vulnerability database that provides comprehensive information on known security vulnerabilities in software products. It is one of the most important sources for people responsible for handling vulnerabilities, vulnerability management, exploit analysis, cyber threat intelligence, and incident response handling.
VulnDB was originally created in 2002 by a group of security researchers who wanted to provide a central repository for information on security vulnerabilities. The database was originally called Open Source Vulnerability Database (OSVDB), and it was maintained by the Open Security Foundation (OSF). In 2016, the OSF closed down, and VulnDB was acquired by Flashpoint.
It was built with the goal of providing the most timely and accurate vulnerability intelligence available. The database includes information on each vulnerability’s technical details, mitigation strategies, exploit information, and links to original advisories, as well as a wealth of other relevant information that can be used by cybersecurity professionals to protect their systems.
It covers an extensive range of security vulnerabilities, including many not found in the CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) database. This makes VulnDB the largest and most comprehensive vulnerability database in the industry. Its creators had a clear vision: to help organizations better understand their security risks and prioritize their response strategies accordingly.
One of the key features of VulnDB is its ability to serve an easy-to-use SaaS Portal and a RESTful API, allowing for seamless integration with GRC (Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance) tools, ticketing systems, and other third-party services. This flexibility empowers organizations to efficiently access and use the valuable vulnerability data provided by VulnDB.
VulnDB’s offerings go beyond just providing vulnerability information. The database is frequently updated and enriched with additional details, such as verified fixes, suggested solutions, and relevant chatter from social media platforms like Twitter. This valuable extra context allows security professionals to better understand the potential impact of a vulnerability and implement the most suitable remediation strategies.
Security Database is a prominent platform that was established to provide comprehensive information on publicly disclosed security vulnerabilities. As the largest vulnerability database in Europe, it has made a significant impact on the cybersecurity landscape, offering a wealth of resources for security professionals to draw upon. With an unwavering focus on presenting accurate and relevant data, Security Database maintains a confident, knowledgeable, neutral, and clear tone.
This extensive database not only offers a vast repository of vulnerability information but also provides users with numerous additional services. One notable feature is its ability to serve as an Application Programming Interface (API), which enables the seamless integration of its data with various third-party tools and software. This capacity allows users to access up-to-date vulnerability information in real time, ensuring they remain informed and protected from potential threats.
In addition to its primary function as a vulnerability database, Security Database offers various supplementary resources, including security research papers, exploit databases, and details on upcoming security-related events. These offerings contribute to the platform’s value as a one-stop solution for cybersecurity experts, enabling them to stay current on critical industry developments.
VulDB is the world’s leading vulnerability database, with over 235,000 entries. It was founded in 1998 and is now owned by pyxyp inc. VulDB provides comprehensive information on security vulnerabilities, including their technical details, exploit availability, and impact. It is a valuable resource for vulnerability management, exploit analysis, cyber threat intelligence, and incident response.
The moderation team at Vuldb actively monitors numerous sources 24/7 for information about new or existing vulnerabilities. Once a new vulnerability is identified, the team gathers additional data from various sources and creates a detailed Vuldb entry, which is then made available to customers through the website and API.
One of the key features of Vuldb is its ability to seamlessly integrate with third-party services, such as GRC tools and ticketing systems. This is achieved through its RESTful API, which enables easy access to vulnerability information, allowing organizations to quickly identify and respond to potential security risks.
Which Vulnerability Database is Perfect for You?
Every service offers distinct features. The CVE project and Mitre are authorized bodies whose primary responsibility is to assign CVE IDs to identified vulnerabilities. NVD’s task is to evaluate these CVE-assigned vulnerabilities and provide Severity and CVSS scores along with vector details. Other CNA authorities like VulnDB, Security Database, and VulDB offer more precise research information such as descriptions, technical details, affected software, hardware, and services, including version information. They also provide exploitation POC details and fix/mitigation information. The choice of a vulnerability database depends on the level of information you require.
Below is a basic comparison table for these entities based on key parameters. Keep in mind that this table provides a high-level overview, and the actual specifics may vary depending on different use cases, user requirements, and other factors. Some of these databases may offer more specific features, tools, or data through a subscription or specific partnership agreement.
|National Vulnerability Database
|Risk Based Security
|Vulnerability details, metrics, and checklists
|Research, projects, and CVE system
|Detailed vulnerability info, mitigation strategies, exploit info
|Generally provides vulnerability info (specifics can vary)
|Detailed vulnerability info, references, affected software versions
|Limited free access, subscription for more data
|Limited free access, subscription for more data
|Primarily U.S. focused
|Yes (with subscription)
|Yes (with subscription)
Public vulnerability databases are invaluable resources that allow organizations to search for and analyze known security flaws impacting the myriad technologies they rely upon.
In this post, we looked at various facets of tracking vulnerabilities using CVE IDs, CVSS scoring and CNAs. We also covered the leading vulnerability data repositories like NVD, VulnDB, Vuldb, and more that security teams can leverage to power risk management programs.
Here are some key takeaways:
- CVE IDs offer standardized naming for vulnerabilities. CVSS scores quantify severity. CNAs coordinate CVE assignments.
- National Vulnerability Database provides extensive CVE listings with CVSS scoring.
- MITRE CVE List contains the authoritative source of CVE data.
- Vulnerability intelligence databases like VulnDB, VulDB, and others enhance CVE data with critical context.
- Options like Security Database and CERT.org provide downloadable vulnerability data dumps.
- Vendor databases and Git repositories also offer valuable vulnerability data.
With cyber threats increasing, organizations must proactively monitor disclosure channels to detect new vulnerabilities in their environment and prioritize remediation. Public vulnerability databases combined with internal threat intelligence provide the comprehensive visibility needed to continuously improve organizational risk posture.