Cybersecurity is all about mitigation and prevention when it comes to CWE or common weakness enumeration. The Mitre corporation maintains the CWE category system that catalogs the various vulnerabilities.
It works alongside the U.S. National Vulnerability Database or NVD—the collection of vulnerability management data based on standards operated by the federal government. The NIST or National Institute of Standards and Technology oversees the NVD. OWASP, the non-profit and open source Open Web Application Security Project®, also works diligently to bolster web information security.
In this blog, we’ll review everything you need to know to understand about software weaknesses and general cybersecurity in software development. Moreover, it discusses how best to use them, too. Like anything, we have to start with the basics and get more granular from there. This blog will cover:
There are plenty of acronyms across every industry, but CWE is a big one for software security. Static analysis and security tools must be backed by a knowledge of what to look for and how to approach the ideal level of risk appropriate for your project.
CWE seeks to make vulnerability management more streamlined and accessible. The community-developed catalog features hardware and software weaknesses and is described as “a common language, a measuring stick for security tools, and a baseline for weakness identification, mitigation, and prevention efforts.”
As mentioned, the Mitre Corporation owns and maintains the CWE. They also manage FFRDCs or federally funded research and development centers for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as agencies in healthcare, aviation, defense, and, of course, cybersecurity.
The CWE list compiles common vulnerabilities and exposures that can help programmers and software developers maintain information security. After all, adhering to security policies through the development lifecycle is much easier to manage than post-breach strategies.
There is only one CWE as managed by the Mitre Corporation. However, that list contains more than 600 categories. Its latest version (3.2) released in January of 2019.
Categories for CWE range from everything like SEI CERT Oracle Coding Standard for Java to Weaknesses without Software Fault Patterns. Luckily, the taxonomy, organization, and accessibility of the categories rank very high.
The catalog uses a numbered system under the three main areas of vulnerability:
|Software Development||Concepts get grouped by frequency of encounter or use in source code development.|
|Hardware Design||Commonly seen or used weaknesses in hardware design are grouped together.|
|Research Concepts||In order to facilitate research into common issues, items are grouped by their behaviors.|
For instance, CWE-89 deals with how SQL Injection flaws occur, but also links to helpful CWE sections to further mitigate security weakness.
CVE is an acronym for common vulnerabilities and exposures. In short: the difference between CVE vs. CWE is that one treats symptoms while the other treats a cause. If the CWE categorizes types of software vulnerabilities, the CVE is simply a list of currently known issues regarding specific systems and products.
US-CERT sponsors the project with Mitre overseeing it, as well. Maintaining security control for software assurance can utilize CVE, but it is not as integral as CWE is. However, it is easily CWE compatible—a functionality ensured by Mitre.
Identifying the most dangerous security weakness points is right up the CWE’s alley. The categories can help you identify exactly what is compromising your systems and fix it. As for which conditions make you the most vulnerable, that often relates to the most common.
Determining the overall most common software vulnerability depends on many variables. After all, the challenges that web application security face are not the same as offline programs. But whether dealing with an SQL command injection, php issue, memory buffer, or even special elements, the CWE can help 99% of the time.
Common CWE Categories and security vulnerabilities include:
Knowing the kinds of application security you need is crucial to any project. The scope of the project will dictate your weak points. For instance, are you using cloud security? That means that you might focus on data loss prevention and application security.
But knowing whether a system is an enterprise or an embedded system plays a big role, too.
Communication happens via the internet which means plenty of vulnerability and risks—especially compared to embedded systems. Network security is not as easy to ensure, so vulnerability management is key.
These programs are often written in C or C++. Think of things like pacemakers, refrigerators, and missile systems. Communication goes between embedded systems, so static analysis tools and common weakness enumeration can identify problems.
The overseeing body has four methodologies:
The CWSS™ helps developers sift through hundreds of bugs that can be found in their code. However, automated tools can also be used for custom scoring and vulnerability scans, but bear in mind that each tool will produce its own score.
CWSS™ utilizes the following to maintain consistency:
Finding and fixing bugs remains an ever-moving target. But having the right tools in your arsenal can make the process much more streamlined, straightforward, and automated. Don’t let your weaknesses add up to massive vulnerabilities. Start small to see big payoffs down the road.
A Sr. Technical Product Marketing Manager for Parasoft’s embedded testing solutions, Ricardo has expertise in the SDLC and test automation of embedded real-time, safety and security-critical applications, and software compliance to industry standards.