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Bug-hunters: They're coming outta the goddamn walls, aargh!

Security bods prep for more and more aliens bursting out of software

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The organisation that administers the industry standard for classifying computer system security vulnerabilities wants to prepare its classification system for a world with an even greater number of bugs.

Mitre Corp is considering adding a 100 times more CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) slots each year to accommodate bug reports.

The current syntax CVE-YYYY-NNNN supports up to 9,999 vulnerabilities. However the increasing number of software flaw reports means Mitre is considering extending this range up to 999,999.

In a call for public feedback explaining the proposed changes, Mitre explains that a system that only tracks 10,000 vulnerabilities or possible bugs is no longer enough. The move is due to be discussed at the upcoming RSA conference before a decision is made in early March.

Three options are on the table.

  • Option A (year + six digits, with leading 0s)

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

  • Option B (year + arbitrary digits, no leading 0s except in 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

Any change would only come into effect at the start of next year.

The greater volume of software applications out there is probably the greatest factor in annual bug count inflation but an increase in the number of security researchers looking for flaws as well as a growth in vulnerability reward programmes are also playing a role.

The absolute number of bugs varies but normally runs into the low thousands. The historic trend over many years is towards a greater number of bugs, hence a desire to rethink the numbering system. At the moment, it is only early February and we're already up to 462 CVEs this year already. Last year the total reached 5,373. ®

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