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OSV and the Vulnerability Life Cycle

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It’s an fascinating time for everybody involved with open supply vulnerabilities. The U.S. Govt Order on Bettering the Nation’s Cybersecurity necessities for vulnerability disclosure applications and assurances for software program utilized by the US authorities will go into impact later this 12 months. Discovering and fixing safety vulnerabilities has by no means been extra essential, but with rising curiosity within the space, the vulnerability administration area has develop into fragmented—there are numerous new instruments and competing requirements.

In 2021, we introduced the launch of OSV, a database of open supply vulnerabilities constructed partially from vulnerabilities discovered by means of 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 submit, we’ll cowl how these instruments assist maintainers observe vulnerabilities from discovery to remediation, and how one can 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 commonplace for describing vulnerabilities throughout all software program, however there was an absence of an open supply centric database. In consequence, a number of unbiased vulnerability databases exist throughout completely different ecosystems.

To deal with this, we introduced the OSV Schema to unify open supply vulnerability databases. The schema is machine readable, and is designed so dependencies may 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 turning into part of OpenSSF, the OSV Schema has seen adoption from providers like GitHub, ecosystems resembling Rust and Python, and Linux distributions resembling Rocky Linux.

Due to such broad neighborhood 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 whole, the OSV.dev database now consists of 43,302 vulnerabilities from 16 ecosystems as of March 2023. Customers can examine OSV for a complete view of all identified vulnerabilities in open supply.

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


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

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


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

Generally, it isn’t even essential to improve a bundle. A susceptible part could also be current in a undertaking, however that doesn’t imply it’s exploitable–and VEX statements present this info to assist in prioritization of vulnerability remediation. For instance, it is probably not essential to replace a susceptible part whether it is by no means known 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 undertaking’s codebase and libraries included in its dependency tree. These prices are limitations 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 may possible be a number of of the present rising VEX requirements.


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

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

CVE 5.0

The OSV group has straight labored with the CVE High quality Working Group on a key new characteristic of the newest CVE 5.0 commonplace: a brand new versioning schema that intently resembles OSV’s personal versioning schema. This can 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 information 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 have to encode affected proprietary software program, and CSAF consists of wealthy mechanisms to specific difficult nested product timber which might be pointless for open supply. In consequence, the spec is roughly six occasions the scale of OSV and tough to make use of straight for open supply.

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

SBOM and VEX requirements

Equally, all rising SBOM and VEX requirements preserve compatibility with OSV by means of the Package deal URL specification. OSV-Scanner right this moment additionally already gives scanning help for the SPDX and CycloneDX SBOM requirements.

OSV in 2023

OSV already gives easy compatibility with established requirements resembling 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 possible discover OSV to be handy for recording and consuming vulnerability info given OSV’s targeted, minimal design.

OSV isn’t just constructed for open supply, it’s an open supply undertaking. We want to construct instruments that can simply match into your workflow and can assist you determine and repair vulnerabilities in your initiatives. Your enter, by means of contributions, questions, and suggestions, could be very worthwhile to us as we work in direction of that aim. Questions may be requested by opening a problem and all of our initiatives (OSV.dev, OSV-Scanner, OSV-Schema) welcome contributors.

Wish to sustain with the newest OSV developments? We’ve simply launched a undertaking weblog! Take a look at our first main submit, all about how VEX may work at scale.

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