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The CVE-10K Problem
All, Well, it's that time. For 2006 so far, we've nearly assigned 7000 CVE identifiers. We don't have 100% completeness, but I'd say that for the usual sources (major vuln DBs, vendor advisories, Bugtraq etc.) there might be another 100 to 1000 CVE's for 2006. Given the continued vulnerability growth trends, it's a real possibility that in 2007, we run the risk of assigning 9,999 CVE's for issues. What to do with the 10,000'th entry is the CVE-10K Problem. Here are some possible solutions. Feedback appreciated. We can cover this topic in an upcoming telecon, too. 1) Keeping the year and moving to hex-based... CVE-2007-9999 would go to CVE-2007-A000, etc. Problem: would probably break many apps that assume digits only. Benefit: we could handle 65,000 ID's in a single year. 2) Completely randomize the year portion. We've considered this for a number of reasons, because too many people make assumptions based on the year portion of the ID already - sometimes it's date of disclosure, sometimes it's date of assignment, sometimes it's because of a typo from an authoritative source. Randomization would help in some other ways, too. This is the most radical approach but has some strengths. Problem: any crude usability is lost. Benefit: the possible space of 100 million identifiers allows us to pass the problem onto the next generation :) but also might allow for less tightly controlled allocation of CVE's (although reduced control has serious negative consequences on CVE-based quantitative analyses and maintenance costs, so this is only a possibility). 3) Adding 1000 to the year. Benefit: introduces predictability, and it's one of the least radical approaches. It buys us some time. Problem: only increases to 20,000 identifiers in a year. Bigger problem: the identifier is likely to be thought of as a typo by many readers, and automatically "corrected" to the current year, which would be an identifier for the wrong issue. 4) Keeping the year, and extending the numeric portion to 5 digits. Benefit: this preserves the CRUDE utility of the year portion and doesn't introduce any alphabetic characters. Problem: some tools/products/databases might assume only 8 total digits instead of 9, so one digit could get lopped off. Maintenance costs would be greater than #2 and #3. It also might affect sorting, but in the grand scheme of things, I'm less concerned than I used to be. Handling over, say, 20K issues in a year would likely require a paradigm shift within the entire vulnerability information management industry. As Dave Mann has pointed out to me numerous times, the growth in the number of vulns is outpacing the growth in CVE funding, which has been mostly flat with respect to content generation itself, with increasing risks of our funding actually being reduced (I don't think most people understand why good vulnerability information isn't cheap.) Anyway, I suspect that this growth problem is hurting other vuln databases/products, too. We're already seeing some of that paradigm shift; the Board gave up voting a while ago due to the amount of effort, you're seeing more generic vulnerability database entries with more mistakes (probably being made by less experienced analysts with less editorial oversight), the percentage of verified issues is probably smaller, etc. Thoughts? - Steve P.S. Thanks to Pascal Meunier for asking about this privately, which prompted me to mention it here.