RSA CONFERENCE 2020 - San Francisco - In 2019, Intel published 236 CVEs (Common Vulnerability and Exposures) vulnerabilities from its various products. The company today issued a report that analyzed those CVEs on the type, severity, and source as part of Intel's pledge of providing greater transparency in its bug discovery and disclosure process.
Jerry Bryant, director of security communication in the Intel Platform Assurance and Security group, said one of the things that struck him as he went through the list of CVEs was where they came from: "144 of the 236 CVEs were discovered internally, by Intel employees," said Bryant, who authored Intels 2019 Product Security Report. Of the rest, he says, 70 were found through the Intel Bug Bounty program.
Between internal discoveries and those made through the bounty program, Bryant says that 91% of the CVEs were generated by researchers associated in some way with Intel.
Scale of Severity
The Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) ranks the severity of vulnerabilities and allows that severity to be communicated among teams and individuals. Ranking vulnerabilities on a scale from 0 to 10, 3.9 and below is low, 9.0 and above is critical; and 4.1 - 9.9 are low, medium, and high depending on the precise score.
Of the 236 CVEs in 2019, only four were critical, while 151 were low or medium severity. All of the critical CVEs were found in the Baseboard Management Controller (BMC), used for server remote monitoring and control, and the Converged Security & Manageability Engine (CSME), a low-power processor and operating system for security tasks that runs in parallel with the main CPU.
And what about the CPU and the "speculative execution, side-channel" vulnerabilities that have been so much in the news after Spectre and Meltdown? There were 11 CVEs related to the architectural issues last year, representing less than 5% of the total. Those CPU CVEs averaged a CVSS of 5.02, earning an aggregate "medium" severity score.
According to the Intel report, "These microarchitectural side channel vulnerabilities are often closely related, generally difficult to exploit and to Intel’s knowledge, have not been successfully utilized outside of a controlled lab environment at the time of this report."