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Ubuntu OVAL data

Canonical's Security Team produces Ubuntu OVAL, a structured, machine-readable dataset for all supported Ubuntu releases. It can be used to evaluate and manage security risks related to any existing Ubuntu components. It is based on the Open Vulnerability and Assessment Language (OVAL).

How we use Ubuntu OVAL

Ubuntu OVAL uses the OVAL vulnerability and patch definitions to enable auditing for Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) and to determine whether a particular patch, via an Ubuntu Security Notice (USN), is appropriate for the local system.

Ubuntu OVAL also allows for any third-party Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) compliant tools to accurately scan an Ubuntu system or an official Ubuntu OCI image for vulnerabilities.

See the Ubuntu Security Notices

Using Ubuntu's OVAL data

  1. Using OpenSCAP

    Download the compressed XML:

    wget$(lsb_release -cs).usn.oval.xml.bz2

    Uncompress the data:

    bunzip2 com.ubuntu.$(lsb_release -cs).usn.oval.xml.bz2

    Use OpenSCAP to evaluate the OVAL and generate an html report:

    oscap oval eval --report report.html com.ubuntu.$(lsb_release -cs).usn.oval.xml

    The output is generated in the file report.html, open it using your browser:

    xdg-open report.html

    File naming convention:

    com.ubuntu.<example release name>.usn.oval.xml.bz2
  2. Scanning an OCI Image

    To scan an Ubuntu Official Cloud Image for known vulnerabilities, the manifest file and xml data can be used together. Unlike above where we were able to use the lsb_release command, you will need to manually enter the URL for the OVAL data.

    Note: In the example below we are using focal/20.04, you would replace 'focal' with the version you are inspecting.


    Download the manifest file for the image

    wget -O manifest

    Use OpenSCAP to evaluate the OVAL and generate an html report

    oscap oval eval --report report.html

    The output is generated in the file report.html, open it using your browser

    xdg-open report.html

    File naming convention:<example release name>.usn.oval.xml.bz2

Ubuntu OVAL data parameters

Parameter Description
CVE_ID CVE number as reported by MITRE
USN Corresponding Ubuntu Security Notice
Description A short description of the security risk addressed
Severity CVE or USN severity as defined by the Ubuntu Security team
Affected Platform Affected Ubuntu release(s), incl ESM
Title CVE number, affected Ubuntu release(s), and Severity
Public date The date on which a CVE was publicly announced
Public date of USN The date on which a USN was published
Reference Links to more information about the issue
BugReport Link to bugreport about the issue

Note: The above parameters are included in the OVAL xml file, but not all are shown in the resulting generated OpenSCAP report.

How Ubuntu OVAL data works

As software vulnerabilities are discovered, they are assigned CVE identifiers by MITRE and other organizations. Canonical triages these CVEs to determine whether the vulnerabilities affect software distributed within Ubuntu. The results of this triage are then used to generate the CVE OVAL. The CVE OVAL can be used to assess the local system for vulnerabilities.

When the Ubuntu Security Team patches software to address one or more CVEs, an Ubuntu Security Notice (USN) is published announcing the update. The USN OVAL data is generated from information encapsulated within the USN, and can be used to assess the system for missing patches.