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Theme fund: NGI0 Discovery
Start: 2019-06
End: 2022-09
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Operating Systems

Free Software Vulnerability Database

A resource to aggregate software updates

"Using Components with Known Vulnerabilities" is one of the OWASP Top 10 Most Critical Web Application Security Risks. Identifying such vulnerable components is currently hindered by data structure and tools that are (1) designed primarily for commercial/proprietary software components and (2) too dependent on the National Vulnerability Database (from US Dept. of Commerce). With the explosion of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) usage over the last decade we need a new approach in order to efficiently identify security vulnerabilities in FOSS components that are the basis of every modern software system and applications. And that approach should be based on open data and FOSS tools. The goal of this project is create new FOSS tools to aggregate software component vulnerability data from multiple sources, organize that data with a new standard package identifier (Package URL or PURL) and automate the search for FOSS component security vulnerabilities. The expected benefits are to contribute to the improved security of software applications with open tools and data available freely to everyone and to lessen the dependence on a single foreign governmental data source or a few foreign commercial data providers.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Software security for many users is a given, an assumption, something you do not and should not have to think about too hard. If you open an app on your phone, install new software on your laptop or boot up your tablet, you assume the software you use is safe, secure and that the developers have done their job right. With the amount of software coming out and the tangled web of inter-dependencies that exist today, this assumption of trust is hard to live up to. Especially since software vulnerabilities are constantly hunted for by malicious parties that want to get into our data and devices for blackmail, theft or on a larger and more dangerous scale, disruption of vital processes like power grids.

Search and discovery of software vulnerabilities is an issue of oversight. There are various databases that record critical risks and issues, but the tools that developers can use to go through these databases tend to focus only on a few sources. Software security should be a collective effort and developers need a complete view of any insecurities they need to deal with. This project wants to create new free and open source (FOSS) tools that aggregate software vulnerabilities from all possible sources and organize them in a standardized way. This makes secure software development more transparent and ultimately contribute to more solid tools and services for endusers.

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This project was funded through the NGI0 Discovery Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825322.