[Owasp-guide] [Owasp-topten] [Owasp-testing] RFC: Common numbering proposal # 1

Boberski, Michael [USA] boberski_michael at bah.com
Thu Jan 7 12:51:57 EST 2010

Excellent suggestions. 

I am going to go research along the lines you suggest.

Keep 'em coming!
Mike B.

-----Original Message-----
From: owasp-topten-bounces at lists.owasp.org [mailto:owasp-topten-bounces at lists.owasp.org] On Behalf Of Steven M. Christey
Sent: Thursday, January 07, 2010 12:38 PM
To: Matteo Meucci
Cc: owasp-testing at lists.owasp.org; owasp-guide at lists.owasp.org; owasp-topten at lists.owasp.org; owasp-application-security-verification-standard at lists.owasp.org
Subject: Re: [Owasp-topten] [Owasp-testing] RFC: Common numbering proposal # 1

(I'm sure my email will bounce to some of these lists)

As someone who's been doing security-related common numbering on a daily basis for, like, 10 years now, adoping any kind of numbering scheme like what you're talking about will:

- make it much easier for people to reference your work

- save a huge amount of time in your own work to keep synchronized

- make it easier, and faster, for people to find information related to the given ID, whether the info is offered by OWASP or others

- make it easier to cross-reference OWASP with other people's work at a low level of detail, e.g. to conduct gap analysis

Needless to say, I'm very supportive of the idea of common numbering.  It appears that this is already well underway.

A handful of suggestions, if it's not too late to consider:

- don't try to encode any information into the ID that is likely to change or be subject to debate.  In the olden days of CVE, we used to have "CAN-1999-0067" which would change into "CVE-1999-0067" once the item was considered stable and sufficiently verified.  That made the ID hard to use.  Right now, OWASP-DV-001 encodes the term "data validation" in the DV acronym, but what happens if in a couple of years, some new and better term occurs, or the focus changes from validation to something else?  (As an example, it's only recently that the "data validation" term itself has become popular.)

- carefully consider the range of values that your ID space supports, and if possible, allow it to expand.  CVE has a "CVE-10K" problem because we never expected that we would ever come close to tracking 10,000 vulnerabilities a year.  Red Hat had to change their advisory numbering scheme a couple years ago.  etc.

- don't change the fundamental meaning of the ID once you've assigned it. 
This causes confusion, and more importantly, it immediately invalidates almost everyone's mappings to that ID - including people who you don't even know are using that ID.

- closely monitor the mappings that get made.  Typos and misunderstandings are rarely caught.  People may make assumptions about what "the item" 
really is, based only on a quick scan of a short name or title.  Since you're dealing with diverse sources, there are likely to be many-to-many relationships in dealing with mappings.

- determine some kind of procedure for handling duplicates.  They're gonna happen.

- the more you distribute the process of creating and assigning IDs between multiple people, the more inconsistencies and duplicates you will wind up with.  This may be unavoidable, since the job is usually bigger than one person.

- determine some kind of procedure for deprecating IDs, i.e., "retiring" 
them and discouraging their use by others.  This will probably happen for reasons other than duplicates.  There should be some final record, somewhere, of what happened to the deprecated item - i.e., it shouldn't just disappear off the face of the earth.

- Steve
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