OSV and the Vulnerability Life Cycle

It’s an fascinating time for everybody involved with open supply vulnerabilities. The U.S. Government Order on Enhancing the Nation’s Cybersecurity necessities for vulnerability disclosure packages and assurances for software program utilized by the US authorities will go into impact later this yr. Discovering and fixing safety vulnerabilities has by no means been extra vital, but with growing curiosity within the space, the vulnerability administration house has develop into fragmented—there are a number of new instruments and competing requirements.

In 2021, we introduced the launch of OSV, a database of open supply vulnerabilities constructed partially from vulnerabilities discovered via Google’s OSS-Fuzz program. OSV has grown since then and now features a broadly adopted OpenSSF schema and a vulnerability scanner. On this weblog put up, we’ll cowl how these instruments assist maintainers monitor vulnerabilities from discovery to remediation, and tips on how to use OSV along with different SBOM and VEX requirements.

Vulnerability Databases

The lifecycle of a identified vulnerability begins when it’s found. To succeed in builders, the vulnerability must be added to a database. CVEs are the trade normal for describing vulnerabilities throughout all software program, however there was a scarcity of an open supply centric database. Consequently, a number of unbiased vulnerability databases exist throughout completely different ecosystems.

To handle this, we introduced the OSV Schema to unify open supply vulnerability databases. The schema is machine readable, and is designed so dependencies could be simply matched to vulnerabilities utilizing automation. The OSV Schema stays the one broadly adopted schema that treats open supply as a firstclass citizen. Since changing into part of OpenSSF, the OSV Schema has seen adoption from companies like GitHub, ecosystems corresponding to Rust and Python, and Linux distributions corresponding to Rocky Linux.

Because of such broad group adoption of the OSV Schema, OSV.dev is ready to present a distributed vulnerability database and repair that pulls from language particular authoritative sources. In complete, the OSV.dev database now contains 43,302 vulnerabilities from 16 ecosystems as of March 2023. Customers can test OSV for a complete view of all identified vulnerabilities in open supply.

Each vulnerability in OSV.dev accommodates package deal supervisor variations and git commit hashes, so open supply customers can simply decide if their packages are impacted due to the acquainted fashion of versioning. Maintainers are additionally aware of OSV’s group pushed and distributed collaboration on the event of OSV’s database, instruments, and schema.


The following step in managing vulnerabilities is to find out mission dependencies and their related vulnerabilities. Final December we launched OSV-Scanner, a free, open supply instrument which scans software program tasks’ lockfiles, SBOMs, or git repositories to determine vulnerabilities discovered within the OSV.dev database. When a mission is scanned, the consumer will get a listing of all identified vulnerabilities within the mission.

Within the two months since launch, OSV-Scanner has seen optimistic reception from the group, together with over 4,600 stars and 130 PRs from 29 contributors. Thanks to the group, which has been extremely useful in figuring out bugs, supporting new lockfile codecs, and serving to us prioritize new options for the instrument.


As soon as a vulnerability has been recognized, it must be remediated. Eradicating a vulnerability via upgrading the package deal is usually not so simple as it appears. Typically an improve will break your mission or trigger one other dependency to not operate accurately. These advanced dependency graph constraints could be tough to resolve. We’re at the moment engaged on constructing options in OSV-Scanner to enhance this course of by suggesting minimal improve paths.

Typically, it isn’t even essential to improve a package deal. A weak part could also be current in a mission, however that doesn’t imply it’s exploitable–and VEX statements present this info to assist in prioritization of vulnerability remediation. For instance, it might not be essential to replace a weak part whether it is by no means referred to as. In circumstances like this, a VEX (Vulnerability Exploitability eXchange) assertion can present this justification.

Manually producing VEX statements is time intensive and sophisticated, requiring deep experience within the mission’s codebase and libraries included in its dependency tree. These prices are boundaries to VEX adoption at scale, so we’re engaged on the flexibility to auto-generate top quality VEX statements primarily based on static evaluation and guide ignore information. The format for this can probably be a number of of the present rising VEX requirements.


Not solely are there a number of rising VEX requirements (corresponding to OpenVEX, CycloneDX, and CSAF), there are additionally a number of advisory codecs (CVE, CSAF) and SBOM codecs (CycloneDX, SPDX). Compatibility is a priority for mission maintainers and open supply customers all through the method of figuring out and fixing mission vulnerabilities. A developer could also be obligated to make use of one other normal and surprise if OSV can be utilized alongside it.

Fortuitously, the reply is mostly sure! OSV supplies a targeted, first-class expertise for describing open supply vulnerabilities, whereas offering a simple bridge to different requirements.

CVE 5.0

The OSV crew has straight labored with the CVE High quality Working Group on a key new characteristic of the most recent CVE 5.0 normal: a brand new versioning schema that carefully resembles OSV’s personal versioning schema. It will allow straightforward conversion from OSV to CVE 5.0, and vice versa. It additionally allows OSV to contribute top quality metadata straight again to CVE, and drive higher machine readability and knowledge high quality throughout the open supply ecosystem.

Different rising requirements

Not all requirements will convert as effortlessly as CVE to OSV. Rising requirements like CSAF are comparatively difficult as a result of they help broader use circumstances. These requirements usually must encode affected proprietary software program, and CSAF contains wealthy mechanisms to precise difficult nested product timber which are pointless for open supply. Consequently, the spec is roughly six instances the dimensions of OSV and tough to make use of straight for open supply.

OSV Schema’s robust adoption exhibits that the open supply group prefers a light-weight normal, tailor-made for open supply. Nonetheless, the OSV Schema maintains compatibility with CSAF for identification of packages via the Package deal URL and vers requirements. CSAF data that use these mechanisms could be straight transformed to OSV, and all OSV entries could be transformed to CSAF.

SBOM and VEX requirements

Equally, all rising SBOM and VEX requirements preserve compatibility with OSV via the Package deal URL specification. OSV-Scanner immediately additionally already supplies scanning help for the SPDX and CycloneDX SBOM requirements.

OSV in 2023

OSV already supplies simple compatibility with established requirements corresponding to CVE, SPDX, and CycloneDX. Whereas it’s not clear but which different rising SBOM and VEX codecs will develop into the usual, OSV has a transparent path to supporting all of them. Open supply builders and ecosystems will probably discover OSV to be handy for recording and consuming vulnerability info given OSV’s targeted, minimal design.

OSV is not only constructed for open supply, it’s an open supply mission. We need to construct instruments that can simply match into your workflow and can show you how to determine and repair vulnerabilities in your tasks. Your enter, via contributions, questions, and suggestions, could be very precious to us as we work in direction of that aim. Questions could be requested by opening a difficulty and all of our tasks (OSV.dev, OSV-Scanner, OSV-Schema) welcome contributors.

Wish to sustain with the most recent OSV developments? We’ve simply launched a mission weblog! Try our first main put up, all about how VEX might work at scale.

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