The Open Vulnerability and Assessment Language (OVAL) is an international community standard to promote open and publicly available security content, and to standardize the transfer of this information in security tools and services. OVAL is part of the Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) specifications. OVAL’s main purpose is to assist security administrators by accelerating the process of analyzing a system for the presence of a vulnerability or configuration best practices. MITRE’s OVAL website contains a detailed definition at: http://oval.mitre.org/about/index.html
OVAL speeds up information exchange and processing of such security-related information. Using OVAL security administrators and other users can accelerate the process of detecting software vulnerabilities in Cisco IOS Software. OVAL content (often called “definitions”) can be downloaded directly from Cisco IOS security advisories.
OVAL Definitions are XML files that contain information about how to check a system for the presence of vulnerabilities, configuration issues, patches, installed applications, or other characteristics of such system. For vulnerability checks, definitions are written to check for a vulnerability, often identified by a specificCommon Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) identifier. OVAL definitions must comply with the OVAL Definition Schema, and should be written in accordance with the Authoring Style Guide defined by MITRE. MITRE’s “OVAL Definition Lifecycle” website has a detailed description of the OVAL definition process: http://oval.mitre.org/repository/about/stages.html
Note: CVRF files are available for all security advisories; however, OVAL is only supported in Cisco IOS advisories. Cisco is working with MITRE and the OVAL community to enhance and develop new schemata to enhanced Cisco IOS support and potentially other Cisco Products. Several changes have already been submitted and integrated in MITRE’s OVAL Language Sandbox.
OVAL enables interoperability between security and network management products from different vendors in different vertical markets allowing them to quickly and automatically perform vulnerability and compliance assessment of network infrastructure and networking devices. All organizations participating in the OVAL Adoption Program are listed in MITRE’s website at: http://oval.mitre.org/adoption/participants.html Many vendors are working on integrating Cisco IOS schemata support into their products. An example of an open source tool that supports the Cisco IOS OVAL schema is jOVAL. For more information about jOVAL visit: http://joval.org