The New CVSS 4.0 for OT / ICS / IoT

   Nov 20, 2023 | Radiflow team

On 1 November, Radiflow’s Chief Information Security Officer and VP of Business Development, Rani Kehat, published an informative article in LinkedIn on the latest version of The Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) 4.0.  In this blog, we want to provide some background on CVSS for those in the OT security (and IoT OT security as well) community who might not be familiar with it. CVSS is a very large and detailed subject – too big for a blog – but we can convey the basics and encourage you to read the specification for all the gory details.

About CVSS

The Common Vulnerability Scoring System is an open framework for communicating the characteristics and severity of software vulnerabilities. It is not a measure of risk, but is useful to state-of-the-art Risk Management solutions as will be described later in this blog.

CVSS is well suited as a standard measurement system for industries and organizations that require accurate and consistent vulnerability severity scores. The CVSS score is represented simply as a number from 0 – 10 that represents the severity of a security vulnerability. The National Vulnerability Database (NVD) provides CVSS assessments for all published CVE records.

Some Use Cases

Industrial organizations can use CVSS to calculate the severity of vulnerabilities discovered on their systems and as a factor for prioritizing vulnerability remediation activities.

Software developers can use CVSS scores to prioritize security tests to ensure that known and serious vulnerabilities are removed or mitigated during development.

Risk Management solution providers can incorporate CVSS in their risk assessments for accuracy and compliance with standards.

Some security standards, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, rely on CVSS to determine level of compliance. For example, PCI DSS looks rejects as non-compliant a CVSS score of 4.0 or higher.

Determining CVSS Scores

CVSS consists of four metric groups: Base, Threat, Environmental, and Supplemental.

  • The Base metric group represents the intrinsic qualities of a vulnerability that are constant over time and across user environments. It assumes a reasonable worst-case impact across different deployed environments
  • The Threat metric group reflects the characteristics of a vulnerability that change over time, such as the availability of proof-of-concept code or active exploitation.
  • The Environmental metric group represents the characteristics of a vulnerability that are unique to a specific computing environment. They consider factors such as the presence of mitigations in that environment and the criticality attributes of the vulnerable system.
  • Supplemental metrics describe and measure additional extrinsic attributes of a vulnerability, intended to add context. They do not modify the final score, but are used as additional insight into the characteristics of a vulnerability.

CVSS Metric Groups

Base metric values are combined with default values that assume the highest severity for Threat and Environmental metrics to produce a score ranging from 0 to 10. To further refine a resulting score, Threat and Environmental metrics are modified according to applicable threat intelligence and/or environmental considerations.

CVSS Scores

CVSS and Risk Assessment

In his article, Rani describes what he especially likes about the new capabilities and features of CVSS 4.0, addressing those that are especially beneficial for ICS risk assessment.

Radiflow’s Risk Assessment and Management platform, CIARA, makes great use of the new capabilities of CVSS 4.0. CIARA is a data-driven platform that records network activity including asset functions, communications (regardless of protocol), and more. Connected to vulnerability and threat intelligence databases, CIARA automatically simulates multi-instances of initial access and network operations to identify possible attack vectors and their effects upon known, exploitable asset vulnerabilities.

The outcomes of CIARA’s simulations are:

  • Key indicators for risk, threat, and control levels
  • A variety of OT-security reports
  • A comprehensive hardening plan (ISA/IEC 62443, NIS 2, and/or industry best practices-compliant), prioritized by each mitigation control’s contribution to achieving the organization’s risk management goals

Serving as a decision-support tool, CIARA empowers stakeholders to optimize their OT- security expenditure and ensure the effectiveness of threat-mitigation controls. By following CIARA’s mitigation roadmap, organizations are able to divert security expenditure from mitigations that marginally reduce risk (given the actual threats the network faces) to those that produce the greatest cybersecurity ROI.

Contact our team today for more information and to discover how you can ensure the best level of ICS security for your OT network.

The New CVSS 4.0 for OT / ICS / IoT

CIARA by Radiflow uses CVSS 4.0 scores to help determine risk in OT networks and systems

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