Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE)

CVE (Communicable Vulnerabilities and Exposures) is a free database containing publicly disclosed software security vulnerabilities sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) is a free database containing publicly disclosed software security vulnerabilities sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. CVE is an invaluable resource for organizations to identify potential issues, strengthen their cyber security practices, and prevent data breaches from escalating.

2023 Global Mobile Threat Report

Common vulnerabilities and exposures are essential elements of any effective cybersecurity strategy. They provide attackers with direct or indirect access to a computer system, enabling them to execute malicious activities such as running code, accessing memory, installing malware, and stealing data.

What are Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures?

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) are specific vulnerabilities that can affect mobile devices, operating systems, and applications. These CVEs have unique identifiers and are documented in the National Vulnerability Data Base (NVD) and other relevant databases. These identifiers allow them to track and provide data about known security issues within the mobile environment. Here are some examples of mobile security CVEs.

  • Operating System Vulnerabilities: These CVEs are related to vulnerabilities in mobile operating systems like Android, iOS, and others. These vulnerabilities may include issues like privilege escalation and buffer overflows.
  • Application Vulnerabilities: Mobile applications can have their vulnerabilities. Examples include improper data handling and insufficient authentication in mobile apps.
  • Device-specific Vulnerabilities: Some CVEs apply to specific mobile device models and manufacturers. These could be hardware issues or device-specific software vulnerabilities.
  • Network Vulnerabilities: Mobile devices are often connected to different networks. Multi-network connections can lead to vulnerabilities in the device’s handling of network connections, resulting in attacks such as Man-in-the-Middle or denial-of-service.
  • Web-Based Vulnerabilities: Mobile browsers and apps that run on the web are vulnerable to web application vulnerabilities such as cross-site Scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and other vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can expose sensitive data.
  • Privilege Escalation: CVEs relating to privilege escalation can allow malicious actors to gain elevated access rights on mobile devices, potentially leading to unauthorized control or data theft.
  • Insecure Data Storage: Mobile apps can store data in an insecure way, which makes them vulnerable to unauthorized access or data leakage. Security vulnerabilities could include storing sensitive data in plain text or using weak encryption.
  • Bluetooth and Wireless Vulnerabilities: CVEs under this category can be related to vulnerabilities in Bluetooth or other wireless communication protocols that could be exploited to gain unauthorized access or intercept data.
  • Vulnerabilities in Third-Party Components: Many mobile applications rely on third-party libraries and components. CVEs under this category relate to vulnerabilities in third-party components that could affect the security of a mobile app.
  • Physical Access Exploits: Mobile devices are vulnerable to physical attacks without adequate security mechanisms. Physical attacks could include bypassing the device locks, gaining access to sensitive data, or extracting encrypted keys.

These are only a few examples. These identifiers are a standard way for the cybersecurity community to track and address vulnerabilities in mobile applications and devices, ultimately improving the security of mobile technology. CVE information is used by mobile device manufacturers, app developers, and security professionals to identify security weaknesses and remediate them, protecting user data and privacy.

History of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures

Common Vulnerabilities & Exposures (CVE) has played an essential role in mobile app security. It provides a standard way to identify and track vulnerabilities in mobile apps. Here’s a quick history of CVE involvement in mobile application security:

  1. Early 2000s – Mobile Apps Emerge: As smartphones became more popular, mobile apps began to gain in popularity. As mobile apps became more popular, security concerns about these apps began to emerge.
  2. Integration with CVE: CVE was launched in the late 90s and expanded its coverage by including vulnerabilities in mobile apps. This integration allowed security professionals and researchers to report and track mobile app vulnerabilities using the same standard format as other software.
  3. Mobile App Vulnerability Reports: As the mobile ecosystem grew, security researchers and organizations began to report vulnerabilities in mobile applications to the CVE database. These vulnerabilities included issues in the app’s source code and third-party component.
  4. Vendors and Developers Participation: Mobile application vendors and developers have recognized the importance of CVE in terms of security. They actively contributed vulnerability information to the CVE System and used CVE identifiers to track and address issues within their applications.
  5. Growing Mobile Threat Landscape: With the increase in mobile malware, phishing attacks, and other mobile-specific threats, the need for an integrated and standardized approach to app security on mobile devices has become even more evident. CVE evolved to address these challenges.
  6. CVE Numbering Authority for Mobile (CNA for Mobile): Specific organizations and security researchers specializing in mobile app security were appointed CNAs by CVE. They assigned CVE numbers to mobile app vulnerabilities and worked with app vendors and developers to ensure proper disclosure.
  7. Mobile-Specific Vulnerability Databases: Various cybersecurity organizations began to focus on app vulnerabilities alongside CVE and other mobile-specific databases and resources, such as the National Vulnerability Database (NVD). These resources provided context and additional information specific to mobile security issues.
  8. Mobile App Security Guidelines: As the field of mobile app security matured, guidelines and best practices for securing apps were developed. These often referenced CVE identifiers or other vulnerability information. These guidelines have helped app developers, as well as security professionals, improve the security of mobile applications.

CVE is still a vital component of mobile app safety today, as it provides a standard way to identify, track, and remediate vulnerabilities within mobile applications. CVE will likely evolve as mobile technology advances to address new challenges in the mobile app ecosystem.

Uses of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures

Here’s how CVEs can protect mobile apps:

  • Identification of Vulnerabilities: CVEs are structured, unique identifiers to identify known vulnerabilities and security concerns. Security researchers and organizations can use this database to identify and categorize mobile app vulnerabilities.
  • Subscribe to CVE feeds and databases to stay informed: Mobile app developers, security teams, and other interested parties can subscribe to CVE feeds to stay current on the latest vulnerabilities. This awareness helps to understand potential threats and risks associated with mobile applications.
  • Patch Management: A mobile app developer or a security team can take the appropriate action when they discover that a CVE applies to their app. Actions could involve releasing patches or updates to fix the identified vulnerabilities.
  • Prioritization: CVEs are often accompanied by a severity rating that helps organizations prioritize efforts to address vulnerabilities. Patching high-severity vulnerabilities is usually given a higher priority.
  • Vulnerability scanning and testing: Security tools and scanners use CVEs to check mobile apps for known vulnerabilities. These tools compare an app’s configurations and code against the CVE database to identify potential issues and identify potential issues.
  • Risk Assessment: Mobile application developers and organizations can utilize CVE information to assess risk associated with a particular vulnerability. This assessment allows for informed decisions to be made about resource allocation and remediation.
  • Compliance: Many regulatory standards, such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard or General Data Protection Regulation, require organizations to address known vulnerabilities promptly. CVEs can help organizations meet compliance requirements.
  • Incident Response: If an app is compromised because of a known vulnerability in the code, incident response teams may use CVEs to determine the nature of the attack and how the vulnerability has been exploited.
  • Third-Party Component Assessment: Mobile apps rely on many third-party libraries or components. CVEs are a great way to check the security of third-party dependencies and ensure they are up-to-date and free of known vulnerabilities.
  • Security Policies and Training: CVE information can be used to inform developers and other stakeholders of the importance of addressing known security vulnerabilities.

CVEs are vital to mobile app security because they provide a standard and organized way to identify known vulnerabilities and exposures, prioritize them, and fix them. Mobile app developers and security experts can use this information to protect their applications and data.

How Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures Work

It is essential to apply fixes as soon as possible when common vulnerabilities and exposures are identified. Here is a general process to address vulnerabilities documented by CVEs:

  • Identify the Vulnerability: The first step is identifying which CVEs apply to your system. Identification can be achieved by monitoring the CVE database and security announcements.
  • Vendor or Community Updates: Check to see if the system vendors or the community that uses open-source software has released updates or patches to fix the vulnerabilities identified. These patches are usually provided as part of the regular security updates.
  • Patch Management: Implementing a patch management system within your organization will allow you to promptly track and apply patches and updates. This process should include testing the patches in a controlled setting before deploying them on production systems.
  • Prioritization: CVEs are not all the same severity. Prioritize patch application based on severity ratings provided with CVE. Prioritize the most severe vulnerabilities.
  • Testing: Before deploying patches into production systems, thoroughly test the patches in a controlled environment. Testing will ensure that they do not cause compatibility issues or unintended effects. Testing can help prevent system instability or downtime.
  • Scheduled Maintenance: Plan maintenance windows to apply patches and updates. These windows should be shared with relevant stakeholders to minimize any disruption.
  • Emergency Patching: Consider emergency patching in critical or Zero-Day vulnerability cases with an active exploitation threat.
  • Vulnerability Scanning: Use vulnerability scanning tools to evaluate your systems for vulnerabilities continuously. Vulnerabilities include those associated with CVEs. These tools can help identify unpatched systems, vulnerabilities, and other issues.
  • Compliance and Reporting: Keep records of patching and CVE remediation activities for compliance and reporting purposes. Many regulations and standards demand that organizations address known vulnerabilities quickly.
  • Backup and Rollback Plan: Always have backup plans and rollbacks in place just in case a patch creates unexpected issues. Backup and rollback planning will allow you to quickly restore a stable state in case of an unforeseen issue.
  • Education and Awareness: Inform your IT staff of the importance of CVEs, patching management, and secure computing. Training and awareness are essential for the successful implementation of security patches.
  • Regular Updates: Keep your systems and software updated with the latest patches and security updates. Check for new CVEs regularly and apply the fixes as soon as they are available.

To maintain the integrity and security of your IT infrastructure, follow a structured approach that is well-documented to address CVEs.

Common Vulnerability and Exposures – Best Practices

With increased software security flaws, quickly identifying and fixing security weaknesses is increasingly essential to avoid cybersecurity breaches. Fortunately, the U.S. National Vulnerability Database (NVD), which uses the Common Vulnerability Enumeration (CVE) dictionary for compiling up-to-date vulnerability and exposure data, provides an invaluable resource for detecting and mitigating threats. The NVD database, active since 1999, contains nearly 216,000 vulnerabilities that are updated daily. As a result, it is the go-to repository for organizations and researchers needing vulnerability data. It details each vulnerability, its fix, and a score based on access complexity, exploitability, remediation level, and other metrics.

With an ever-increasing number of vulnerabilities and exposures, it’s becoming harder for security teams to stay abreast of the most recent risks. Prioritizing which CVEs to patch first and which ones not to patch makes all the difference in preventing attacks from starting in the first place. With these tools at their disposal, security teams can focus on preventing breaches from occurring in the first place.

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