BugTraq
CVE ID Syntax Change - Call for Public Feedback Jan 23 2013 04:23PM
cve-id-change mitre org
CVE ID Syntax Change - Call for Public Feedback
-----------------------------------------------
January 22, 2013

Due to the increasing volume of public vulnerability reports, the
Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) project will change the
syntax of its standard vulnerability identifiers so that CVE can track
more than 10,000 vulnerabilities in a single year. The current
syntax, CVE-YYYY-NNNN, only supports a maximum of 9,999 unique
identifiers per year.

Since a change in the ID syntax will affect many parties including end
users and vendors, the CVE project is soliciting feedback from the
public before making this change.

The public feedback period will continue through the RSA Conference in
February 2013, where attendees will be able to speak with CVE
personnel from MITRE and members of the CVE Editorial Board. After a
formal Editorial Board vote, the final selection will be made and the
public will be notified, probably in March 2013.

The syntax change is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2014,
so that people will have enough time to change their processes and
software to handle the new ID syntax.

With guidance from the CVE Editorial Board, we have identified three
options for a new ID syntax, summarized as follows:

*) Option A (Year + 6 digits, with leading 0's)

Examples: CVE-2014-000001, CVE-2014-009999, CVE-2014-123456

*) Option B (Year + arbitrary digits, no leading 0's except IDs 1 to 999)

Examples: CVE-2014-0001, CVE-2014-54321, CVE-2014-123456

*) Option C (Year + arbitrary digits + check digit)

Examples: CVE-2014-1-8, CVE-2014-9999-3, CVE-2014-123456-5

One of these options will be selected as the new syntax for CVE
identifiers. More details are available at the end of this message.

If you wish to comment on any of these options, you can:

*) Email your commeent to to cve-id-change (at) mitre (dot) org [email concealed], which is
monitored by CVE team members at MITRE.

*) Post to a new, public discussion list that is focused on the CVE ID
change. To subscribe, send email to listserv (at) lists.mitre (dot) org [email concealed] . In
the body of the email, type:

subscribe CVE-ID-SYNTAX-DISCUSS-LIST

*) Reply on any of the public mailing lists to which this announcement
has been posted.

Due to the high volume of replies that we expect to receive, we will
not be able to respond to every email message; however, we will
publish a summary of responses.

Thank you to the entire community for supporting CVE, and we look
forward to your feedback.

Regards,
The CVE Project

------------------------------------------------------------
Option A: Year + 6 digits, with leading 0's
------------------------------------------------------------

Example identifiers:

CVE-2014-000001, CVE-2014-000999, CVE-2014-001234, CVE-2014-009999,
CVE-2014-010000, CVE-2014-054321, CVE-2014-099999,
CVE-2014-100000, CVE-2014-123456, CVE-2014-999999

Strengths:

This CVE ID syntax will seem familiar to consumers who are used to
the old-style syntax from 1999 through 2013, since there are 6
digits instead of 4. This might make adoption easier and minimize
confusion.

The syntax would avoid some ID parsing problems that could occur
with the other schemes, such as inadvertent truncation or
fixed-length assumptions that would cause the wrong ID to be
extracted. It would also support the use of multiple consecutive
IDs that can be easily sorted and displayed without special logic.
The fixed length might be a desirable property to some consumers or
CVE-processing implementers; the other options have variable-length
IDs.

Some CVE-processing software that automatically extracts or
publishes CVE identifiers might not need to be changed, if it
already assumes that more than 4 digits could be used.

There will be enough IDs to support up to 1 million vulnerabilities
per year. This is effectively future-proof for CVE, because CVE's
scope is expected to remain largely restricted to vulnerabilities
that have been analyzed by humans. If more than 1 million IDs are
required, this would represent such a large paradigm shift in
vulnerability disclosure and tracking that the entire industry would
not be able to manage the volume using today's practices.

Limitations:

Immediately upon the first publication of an ID using this syntax,
many CVE programs that assume the old-style syntax would stop
functioning correctly.

The larger number of digits could increase the risk of typos,
especially with the leading zeroes. Some consumers might
intentionally remove leading zeroes, assuming the old-style 4-digit
number.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Option B: Year + arbitrary digits, no leading 0's except IDs 1 to 999
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Note: in this option, extra digits would not be added until at least
10,000 IDs are needed. When necessary, only one additional digit is
added. For IDs 1 through 999, leading 0's would be used to expand the
number to use 4 digits.

Example identifiers:

CVE-2014-0001, CVE-2014-0999, CVE-2014-1234, CVE-2014-9999,
CVE-2014-10000, CVE-2014-54321, CVE-2014-99999,
CVE-2014-100000, CVE-2014-123456, CVE-2014-999999, CVE-2014-1234567

Strengths:

This CVE ID syntax will seem familiar to consumers who are used to
the old-style syntax from 1999 through 2013; the numeric portion
will just contain extra digits. This might make adoption easier and
minimize confusion.

The initial change to 5 digits would support up to 100,000
identifiers in a single year; 6 digits would support up to 1 million
identifiers per year.

Some CVE-processing software that automatically extracts or
publishes CVE identifiers might not need to be changed, if it
already assumes that more than 4 digits could be used.

The ID syntax will not have an obvious change until 10,000
identifiers are needed, which might give extra time to CVE users to
adjust to a syntax change. (Note that CVE might not require 10,000
identifiers this year.)

Limitations:

The ID does not have a fixed length, and ID parsing errors are
likely. Some CVE programs would incorrectly truncate the wrong IDs
because of the assumption of 4 digits, which would cause confusion
and incorrect mappings. For example, CVE-2014-123456 might be
truncated as CVE-2014-1234, which would identify a completely
different vulnerability.

This syntax is less "future-proof" than others. If a change is
needed from 5 digits to 6, some CVE-processing software might break
because of built-in assumptions about 5 digits. Thus, for this
option, there would be two different periods of transition of the
CVE ID syntax: the transition to 5 digits, and the transition to 6
digits. However, the second transition would be less severe, since
it would only affect implementations that were not correctly fixed
in the first transition. Option C would only have one transition,
and Option A would only have one transition unless there is a
radical change in vulnerability disclosure practices that would
require more than 1 million IDs a year.

Because there is no apparent change to the syntax until 10,000 IDs
are needed, this might prevent some CVE implementers from making
changes until it is too late and the change has already happened.

------------------------------------------------------------
Option C: Year + arbitrary digits + check digit
------------------------------------------------------------

Note: the ID would consist of the year, a hyphen, a sequence number of
1 or more digits, another hyphen, and a single check digit calculated
using the Luhn Check Digit Algorithm, which is used in other
identification schemes such as credit card numbers. This syntax is
similar to that used by the Common Configuration Enumeration (CCE);
see http://cce.mitre.org/about/faqs.html#B2 for more information.

Example identifiers:

CVE-2014-1-8, CVE-2014-999-3, CVE-2014-1234-3, CVE-2014-9999-3,
CVE-2014-10000-8, CVE-2014-54321-5, CVE-2014-123456-5,
CVE-2014-999999-5, CVE-2014-1234567-4

Strengths:

This ID syntax supports arbitrary numbers of vulnerabilities, and as
a result, it is future-proof. The trailing hyphen and check digit
serve as an unambiguous boundary that clearly decomposes the ID into
three distinct parts, regardless of length. CVE implementations
that conform to this syntax would not need to be changed when the
number of digits changes.

The check digit would be useful for automatically detecting typos in
identifiers. Because of the widespread use of CVE, identifier typos
cause significant confusion and maintenance costs to resolve,
although the frequency with which this occurs is not clear. Since
there is a trend towards large-scale automation for managing
vulnerabilities, the check digit would be very useful as part of a
data integrity check of CVE IDs during computer-to-computer
interaction.

Limitations:

Immediately upon the first publication of an ID using this syntax,
many CVE programs that assume the old-style syntax would stop
functioning correctly.

This ID syntax is the most radical change to the old-style syntax.
It could cause confusion among CVE consumers who are unaware of the
syntax change, since "CVE-2014-1-1" would appear to be a malformed
ID compared to the old-style ID.

Compared to other options, this ID would be more difficult to use in
human-to-human communications.

Parties who are familiar with the old-style ID syntax might
inadvertently omit the check digit. This could increase
implementation costs or reduce usability for implementations that
assume that IDs have the check digit.

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