Vulnerability database opens

A freely available, independent database aimed at logging all security vulnerabilities on the Internet, in development since 2002, has been formally opened for public use.

The Open Source Vulnerability Database (OSVDB), the work of a group of security industry volunteers, was launched because of what its organizers believed was a lack of thorough tracking of vulnerabilities, despite the existence of numerous databases managed by private interests.

The problem, according to Jake Kouns, project leader of OSVDB, is that industry does not consider these databases to be either complete or unbiased.

"They all have their own version of what they believe [users of the database] need to see," he said. "The result is that there are a lot of different databases saying different things, and much of the information that's currently available through these databases is conflicting."

OSVDB, on the other hand, "wants to reference everything that's out there," Kouns said.

The database collects information mainly from mailing lists that discuss vulnerabilities and from submissions from other sources. Members of the OSVDB verify and catalog all reports that come to the group. Each recognized flaw is given a unique identifier for inclusion in the database.

The intention is for the database to be a completely unfiltered repository of all known vulnerabilities, Kouns said. Vulnerability information is distributed under an open-source license (see www.osvdb.org).

The database currently has about 1,900 cataloged vulnerabilities, with some 2,700 submissions outstanding.

So far, OSVDB has been completely operated by volunteers. But the database's leaders have applied for nonprofit status and have started to canvass government agencies and corporations for support, Kouns said.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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