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Date: Thu, 22 May 2008 05:51:55 +0000 (UTC)
From: security curmudgeon <>
Subject: Re: Root name server changes -> bind

: On Wed, 21 May 2008, Marcus Meissner wrote:
: > Not sure if this warrants a CVE id.
: Gut reaction here, but I would say that if a software package has 
: hard-coded those IP addresses and doesn't check them e.g. through a 
: reverse lookup, then the issue in that package would require a CVE.
: I have a feeling I could regret that statement :-/

Oh hey great lead-in to a question plaguing OSVDB, partially courtesy of 
... drumroll.. CVE! =)

In our NDM queue, i've been sitting on "dns cache poisoning (maybe)" for 
some time, a collection of CVE's that represent this exact issue. It seems 
pretty straight forward until you start looking for the solution, and then 
it blurs and the line isn't so clear on where a VDB should stop tracking 
it as a vulnerability.

#1: SomeProgram uses a DNS name to contact home-base for updates in some 
fashion. It relies on DNS resolution to contact to 
receive this information. If an attacker has control of the DNS, the 
software contacts the attacker's server and receives malicious code. This 
is pretty nasty and what you regret to think of as CVE-worthy because we 
all know a *ton* of software does exactly this. It's hard to blame them 
since networks change, companies move or get bought.

#2: First solution is to use an IP address instead of DNS name. This will 
prevent DNS spoofing as a form of attack and elevate the skill required to 
subvert the update process. Problem is that networks change, companies 
move, etc. So what happens when that old install contacts to find 
that it is now in the hands of This is relying on an untrusted 
host to get the information, just like scenario #1 above. Is this worth 
inclusion in VDBs?

#3: Second solution, and the better one that is harder to implement I 
imagine, is to care a lot less about where it is contacting and care a lot 
more about the information it is receiving. Digital signatures, MD5 hashes 
(where would it get those from though) or some other form of validation of 
the content it receives would help reduce risk significantly. Reverse the 
solution and this may be the real criteria for inclusion into VDBs. The 
overall lack of a secure update process, be it DNS trust, hard coded IP or 
the lack of a trust-worthy signature system.

So which of these scenarios are vulnerabilities that a public VDB would 
agree meets standards for inclusion? I've gone back and forth on this one 
for just over two years and never found the time to make a decision as far 
as OSVDB is concerned. I'd love to get feedback here or a discussion to 
help make up our minds.

And now, fuel for the fire:


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