Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) is one of the most important systems in the world of cybersecurity. But what exactly is CVE? ity vulnerabilities and exposures. It is not a very complex phenomenon, but there are a few layers to uncover.

First of all, vulnerabilities are described as flaws of logic within the code. These can be used maliciously by hackers to gain secure information, make unauthorized modifications, or affect the availability of a system. 

This can be amended by including changes within the code, whether it is removal of the affected code or changing it. Using proven development practices as well as adequate testing is the way to mitigate vulnerabilities in any product or codebase.

Secondly, exposures are a system configuration mistake that may allow hackers to gather information or capabilities on a system or a network. This can be used as the base for further attacks, or to cover up their tracks. In layman terms, a vulnerability is akin to having weak locks while an exposure is closer to forgetting the backdoor to your house unlocked overnight.

Is CVE a Vulnerability Database?

Not exactly. CVE isn’t a vulnerability database. There are others, one example being National Vulnerability Database, but this isn’t one of them. It is important to note that CVE is a reference to other databases, not an actual database itself. 

The purpose was to connect different tools and information, to allow anyone to get to more data, bug fixes and ways to handle anything that can make your system any less secure. Think of it as a way of sorting, organising and labeling.

While the CVE is free and open for all to access, it is sponsored by the US department of homeland security. For standardization and ease of use, labeling the vulnerabilities follows a certain standard. Each vulnerability is assigned an ID, all of which follow the same format: CVE – the year they were added – a four or more digit serial number (e.g CVE-2014-12345). 

CVE provides equal and standardized information for all to access. This makes it especially helpful for cybersecurity professionals to communicate and avoid the more common issues faced in the field. Moreover, CVE helps spread information better and faster within the cybersecurity community, significantly encouraging the use of good security practices while punishing outdated security solutions. Using standardized identifiers makes it much easier to share data about common pitfalls.

No doubt this all sounds great, so how do you use CVE or be involved with it? Besides knowing how it works and being mindful of how to use it, there are a number of ways to get yourself involved depending on your role. Head over to the CVE website (operated by Mitre Corporation) to learn more.

Ultimately, CVE is a system that is only useful because of the people using it. However, the usefulness of streamlined communication is not one to be understated. So, the next time you stumble upon a CVE entry, be sure to make note of what it means.

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