Start Tracking Emerging Security Threats in Five Minutes

Learn how to monitor security feeds to stay ahead of the ongoing threats to your infrastructure.

There ain’t no bugs on me
There ain’t no bugs on me
There may be bugs on some of you mugs
But there ain’t no bugs on me

- Traditional folk song

Background

How do you become aware of security bugs in your software systems? Is it when a machine prompts you to install updates? Is it when you read about them on Hacker News? Is it when you get owned?

Creating an automated patch management system is a great way to stay secure. However, depending on your threat model, you might need to do even better than that. It may not be acceptable to wait for your patch management system to apply an update on a schedule or to wait for a patch in a library to propagate upstream.

By keeping track of security vulnerabilities on your own, you can catch potential weaknesses in your infrastructure without delay. Software vendors and special interest groups have created a number of security feeds that make it easy to stay abreast of the latest security bugs. In this article, we present a directory of the feeds that I follow at Computer Lab when managing critical systems.

If you want a quick TL;DR click here

General Vulnerabilities

These comprehensive feeds report vulnerabilities in software across operating systems. Monitoring these lists can help you catch bugs in your stack and provide a platform for the general discussion of software security.

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE)

Message Frequency Daily
Formats Raw Data, Twitter, Web

The CVE standard defines a universal format for describing vulnerabilities in software and systems. MITRE maintains both the CVE standard and a large database of assigned CVE identifiers. The CVE system has inspired other standards for scoring and reporting vulnerabilities. The federal government provides a convenient interface for searching and visualizing CVEs at the National Vulnerability Database.

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)

Message Frequency Varies
Formats Mailing List, RSS

US-CERT is a division of the federal government that tracks cyber threats. They have a variety of feeds for both high and low frequency security bulletins. They also publish advisories that are not specific to a particular piece of software but rather describe best practices and current trends in computer security.

Bugtraq

Message Frequency Daily
Formats Mailing List

Despite being one of the oldest security mailing lists, you can still find advisories posted to Bugtraq today. Bugtraq is not just an announce list - you can engage in conversation with other security professionals.

OSS Security

Message Frequency Daily
Formats Mailing List

OSS Security is a common place for new vulnerabilities to be posted, often cross posted to Bugtraq and Full Disclosure. Like Bugtraq, there will occasionally be more general discussion of security practices. Until recently, CVEs were assigned here.

Full Disclosure (FD)

Message Frequency Daily
Formats Mailing List

FD is old-school mailing list named for the security reporting principle of Full Disclosure. The list has much less activity than OSS Security or Bugtraq but it can still be a valuable source of news, discussions & vulnerabilities.

Linux Vulnerabilities

Most Linux distributions have a public security mailing list where security updates are announced. I have only included the more popular server distributions here but it should be easy to find a similar list for any distribution.

Red Hat Security Announce

Message Frequency Varies
Formats Mailing List

Security announcements for all Red Hat products and services.

Ubuntu Security Announce

Message Frequency Varies
Formats Mailing List

Security updates for all flavors of Ubuntu.

Windows Vulnerabilities

Despite Microsoft’s low reputation within the security community, they do offer many valuable resources for security professionals.

Microsoft Security Notification Service

Message Frequency Monthly
Formats Mailing List

These notifications provide a low-frequency, high-level overview of patched vulnerabilities in Microsoft products.

Microsoft Security Advisories

Message Frequency Varies
Formats RSS

Advisories that report low-impact vulnerabilities or security-related updates are sent here.

Microsoft Security Updates

Message Frequency Monthly
Formats Web

On Patch Tuesday, Microsoft releases information about patched vulnerabilities on its website. The bulletins are quite detailed, indicating the affected versions of any relevant software, mitigating factors, workarounds & occasionally attribution to the original reporter.

Bonus: Amazon Web Services

I imagine that most readers are using AWS for some, if not all, of their infrastructure. Here are some resources to help you stay on top of vulnerabilities in the cloud.

Amazon Linux AMI Security

Message Frequency Varies
Formats RSS, Web

Notifications of vulnerabilities in Amazon’s flavor of Red Hat (Amazon Linux).

Amazon Security Bulletins

Message Frequency Varies
Formats RSS, Web

Security bulletins for vulnerabilities in Amazon services (e.g: RDS) and internal software (e.g: Xen). Also includes general security notices for critical vulnerabilities à la CERT.

TL;DR

If you’re a practicing software engineer but not a security professional, following US-CERT should be more than enough to get a feel for how emerging threats might impact your work.

If you want detailed updates for a particular operating system you should subscribe to their security announce list. If you want to catch vulnerabilities in the software & libraries that make up your stack, you should subscribe to Bugtraq, Full Disclosure and OSS Security.

To identify potential vulnerabilities even faster, you can follow the issue trackers for any relevant pieces of software and watch for security-related bugs. You should note, however, that frequently security issues are reported out-of-band on a private channel to prevent exploitation.

Did we miss anything?

If you use any other vulnerability notification services we would love to know about them! I have created a Github repo where you can add your own favorite security feeds. You can also join the conversation on Hacker News.

Robert C Jensen
Thoughts or questions? Chat now.