Gentoo metadata support for CPE


Sven Vermeulen Fri 10 May 2013

Recently, the metadata.xml file syntax definition (the DTD for those that know a bit of XML) has been updated to support CPE definitions. A CPE (Common Platform Enumeration) is an identifier that describes an application, operating system or hardware device using its vendor, product name, version, update, edition and language. This CPE information is used in the CVE releases (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) - announcements about vulnerabilities in applications, operating systems or hardware. Not all security vulnerabilities are assigned a CVE number, but this is as close as you get towards a (public) elaborate dictionary of vulnerabilities.

By allowing Gentoo package maintainers to enter (part of) the CPE information in the metadata.xml file, applications that parse the CVE information can now more easily match if software installed on Gentoo is related to a CVE. I had a related post to this not that long ago on my blog and I'm glad this change has been made. With this information at hand, we can start feeding CPE information to the packages and then easily match this with CVEs.

I had a request to "provide" the scripts I used for the previous post. Mind you, these are taking too many assumptions (and probably wrong ones) for now (and I'm not really planning on updating them as I have different methods for getting information related to CVEs), but I'm planning on integrating CPE data in Gentoo's packages more and then create a small script that generates a "watchlist" that I can feed to cvechecker. But anyway, here are the scripts.

First, I took all CVE information and put it in a simple CSV file. The CSV is the same one used by cvechecker, so check out the application to see where it fetches the data from (there is a CVE RSS feed and a simple XSL transformation). Second, I create a "hitlist" which generates the CPEs. With the recent change to metadata.xml this step can be simplified a lot. Third, I try to match the CPE data with the CVE data, depending on a given time delay of commits. In other words, you can ask possible CVE fixes for commits made in the last few XXX days.