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Date: Fri, 4 Mar 2011 10:52:28 -0500
From: Nelson Elhage <>
Subject: Re: Vendor-sec hosting and future of closed lists

Per <>, you can contact to
obtain a CVE privately prior to a release. As mentioned on that page, they
specifically want to make it possible for you to obtain a CVE for inclusion with
the initial announcement of a vulnerability.

I've contacted them for exactly the purpose you describe (obtaining a CVE
identifier for a small open-source project prior to releasing/announcing the
vulnerability), and I've had a turnaround time of less than a day. Their stated
policy is "Our typical response time to your initial request is within 2
business days, usually faster."

So, unless I misunderstand something, there already is a good way for individual
projects, even small ones, to fairly rapidly obtain CVE numbers prior to
announcing issues.

- Nelson

On Fri, Mar 04, 2011 at 10:00:56PM +1100, David Hicks wrote:
> On Thu, 2011-03-03 at 13:36 -0800, Kees Cook wrote:
> > Several upstreams, though disappointingly not the Linux kernel, are very
> > good about keeping their end-users in mind and providing direct distro
> > coordination for important security updates (MIT Kerberos comes to mind
> > first as a great example). This number of upstreams has been growing,
> > but it's not nearly large enough to supplant a vendor-sec-like mailing
> > list, IMO.
> CVE number assignment: perspective from a small open source project
> The MantisBT project (open source web based bug tracking) has been
> directly notifying major distributions of bugs which have a notable
> security impact. A project specific announcements mailing list, blog,
> bug tracker, IRC channel, Twitter account and source repository are also
> used to convey information to users about new releases. A number of
> notices were also sent to oss-security late last year in response to
> vulnerabilities being discovered.
> The reason I bring up the long list of notification options is because
> of CVE number assignment. It strikes me that one of the key benefits of
> CVE numbers is to improve the ease at which a security issue can be
> tracked and information gathered via Internet search.
> The time when a CVE number is arguably most useful is during the patch,
> release announcement and notification processes where it can be used to
> tie related information to a single tracking number. From the
> perspective of a small open source project, obtaining CVE numbers via
> oss-security appears to be a relatively slow process that can take a
> number of days to process. Furthermore, oss-security is probably one of
> the fastest methods (if not the only method) small open source projects
> can use to seek CVE numbers.
> Why can't the project embargo the issue until a CVE number is assigned?
> A large number of MantisBT users bypass their distribution packaging
> system to obtain the software directly (commonly the case for web
> applications). Other users do not have packaging systems available on
> their platform of choice (Windows or shared web hosting).
> MantisBT has typically taken the full disclosure approach in the
> interests of providing the fastest possible response time to independent
> users. This involves applying a very obvious security patch in the
> repository, creating of a new release and loudly notifying users that
> they need to upgrade to the new minor release without delay for security
> reasons. This process currently occurs prior to a CVE number being
> allocated and as such our announcements, mailing list threads, commit
> messages, bug reports, etc generally miss out on being tagged with a CVE
> reference.
> For a smaller niche/boutique distribution which MantisBT does not have
> the resources to contact for every vulnerability, they may hear about
> the issue first on oss-security. Their usual package maintainer
> subscribed to the MantisBT project announcement mailing list may be on
> holiday. That's OK though because the security team of the distribution
> may pick up on the news from oss-security (correct me if this use case
> is incorrect).
> I would have thought that it'd be beneficial for the security team (and
> any other interested parties) to take a CVE number from the oss-security
> thread and perform an Internet search to bring up the maximum amount of
> information related to a vulnerability - Internet wide. The most
> important information is likely going to be from the open source project
> itself - announcements, mailing list threads, commit messages, IRC logs
> and bug reports. However blog posts, external mailing list threads, IRC
> logs, etc away from the official project communication channels may also
> be useful.
> Suggestion
> Is there a way open source projects can receive CVE numbers in a more
> timely fashion? Projects may go for entire years without a vulnerability
> and therefore pre-assignment may not be ideal. I suppose that is a
> downside of using an incremental integer numbering system. Perhaps some
> form of provisional CVE request functionality could exist for registered
> open source projects to call upon? Or an increased number of
> staff/volunteers within distributions who can assign CVE numbers via
> oss-security?
> David Hicks
> MantisBT Developer
>, #mantishelp freenode

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