The OpenSSL project has pre-announced a new and critical vulnerability that will be fixed in OpenSSL version 3.0.7, expected 1 November 2022. Updates to this announcement will ...
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Security Update: OpenSSL High Vulnerability (CVE-2022-3602)

Benjamin Marr

*Update: The OpenSSL team have released details of the vulnerabilities and a patch which is available on their website.

The vulnerability (CVE-2022-3602) that caused mass speculation online was downgraded to High following a secondary review from those involved with the OpenSSL project. This was due to a handful of limitations and modern system protections, which, when combined significantly reduce the likelihood of real world exploitation.

We recommend that you continue to patch according to your normal schedule for High severity weaknesses.

The OpenSSL team have released a comprehensive blog post explaining the situation, along with an accompanying FAQ which is available at

About the vulnerability

The OpenSSL project has pre-announced a new and critical vulnerability that will be fixed in OpenSSL version 3.0.7, expected 1 November 2022. Updates to this announcement will be amended as new information and guidance becomes available.

OpenSSL has released a statement pre-notifying the InfoSec community about a critical vulnerability within OpenSSL 3.0.X. The older LTS branch of 1.1.1 is unaffected by this vulnerability. Due to an NDA between the OpenSSL team and other parties, no further information is available until the OpenSSL team release a patch. This will be available, along with specific vulnerability information on the 1 November between 1pm and 5pm GMT when the embargo is lifted.

How will this impact you?

Some vendors have been trying to identify the wider impact of this vulnerability. For example, Docker estimates that 1,000 of its official images could be impacted by this vulnerability. Alternatively, Wiz have scanned its cloud infrastructure and estimate that only 1.5% of the scanned cloud targets have OpenSSL version 3 available. The saving grace here is that only recent Linux distributions come with OpenSSL version 3 included with their releases, such as Ubuntu 22, Debian 12 and RHEL 9.

At Intruder, we don't think it’s time to panic. But you should be aware of the information available from OpenSSL and your vendors, who will need to release their own patches following tomorrow's OpenSSL patch.

In a post-Log4j world, the InfoSec community is sensitive to any vulnerabilities deemed critical within libraries or frameworks which are exploitable within a “default or common configuration”. We've seen this with Spring4Shell and the Apache Commons Text vulnerability. These, and the subsequent lack of information, have caused some experts to work themselves up into a frenzy, spreading misinformation and deleting posts from some source posts.  

However, others such as Kevin Beaumont have been the voice of reason over the past few days, keeping the conversation grounded in facts.  

What do we recommend while you wait?

  1. The most important step is to determine your exposure and understand where OpenSSL 3.0.X is used in your systems. While it isn’t possible to remotely detect every instance of OpenSSL, you can view identified versions via Intruder's Network View.  
  1. Run regular scans over the coming weeks to ensure this data is as up-to-date as possible to identify any vulnerable systems. However, in order to detect those services which do not disclose version information, the most reliable (albeit time consuming) method is to query package managers on devices to determine the version installed.
  1. Once all of the vulnerable versions have been identified, the next step is to mitigate any exposures. First prioritise externally-facing and mission-critical systems. This can be achieved via patching applications which use the library and performing system updates when they become available following the release of 3.0.7 tomorrow.

What is Intruder doing for you?

This OpenSSL vulnerability has the potential to cause a major impact to systems and organisations worldwide. While it is unknown if this vulnerability will lead to mass exploitation like Heartbleed, you should take steps now to identify your risk and limit your exposure to the maximum extent possible.  

Our updated Network View helps identify exposed services which disclose the OpenSSL version number. In addition, our security team will be monitoring developments as soon as the embargo is lifted. The security team will also perform manual Rapid Response checks for Vanguard clients, and notify any customers affected by any exposures to this vulnerability.

Use this time to find where your OpenSSL 3.x is used, ready for the patch tomorrow. It goes without saying that having a regular, automated vulnerability scanner such as Intruder in place will ensure that critical components in your systems are always monitored for the latest updates and patch levels.  

Not using a vulnerability scanner yet? Sign up here to scan your systems for vulnerabilities and see your attack surface as it appears to real hackers.

A screenshot of Intruder's network view that helps you to keep track of changes in your IT environment, such as recently opened ports and services.

Useful links

Release Date
Level of Ideal
Before CVE details are published
Limited public information is available about the vulnerability.

Red teamers, security researchers, detection engineers, threat actors have to actively research type of vulnerability, location in vulnerable software and build an associated exploit.

Tenable release checks for 47.43% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 32.96%.
Day of CVE publish
Vulnerability information is publicly accessible.

Red teamers, security researchers, detection engineers and threat actors now have access to some of the information they were previously having to hunt themselves, speeding up potential exploit creation.

Tenable release checks for 17.12% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 17.69%.
First week since CVE publish
Vulnerability information has been publicly available for up to 1 week.

The likelihood that exploitation in the wild is going to be happening is steadily increasing.

Tenable release checks for 10.9% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 20.69%.
Between 1 week and 1 month since CVE publish
Vulnerability information has been publicly available for up to 1 month, and some very clever people have had time to craft an exploit.

We’re starting to lose some of the benefit of rapid, automated vulnerability detection.

Tenable release checks for 9.58% of the CVEs they cover in this window, and Greenbone release 12.43%.
After 1 month since CVE publish
Information has been publicly available for more than 31 days.

Any detection released a month after the details are publicly available is decreasing in value for me.

Tenable release checks for 14.97% of the CVEs they cover over a month after the CVE details have been published, and Greenbone release 16.23%.

With this information in mind, I wanted to check what is the delay for both Tenable and Greenbone to release a detection for their scanners. The following section will focus on vulnerabilities which:

These are the ones where an attacker can point their exploit code at your vulnerable system and gain unauthorised access.

We’ve seen previously that Tenable have remote checks for 643 critical vulnerabilities, and OpenVAS have remote checks for 450 critical vulnerabilities. Tenable release remote checks for critical vulnerabilities within 1 month of the details being made public 58.4% of the time, but Greenbone release their checks within 1 month 76.8% of the time. So, even though OpenVAS has fewer checks for those critical vulnerabilities, you are more likely to get them within 1 month of the details being made public. Let’s break that down further.

In Figure 10 we can see the absolute number of remote checks released on a given day after a CVE for a critical vulnerability has been published. What you can immediately see is that both Tenable and OpenVAS release the majority of their checks on or before the CVE details are made public; Tenable have released checks for 247 CVEs, and OpenVAS have released checks for 144 CVEs. Then since 2010 Tenable have remote released checks for 147 critical CVEs and OpenVAS 79 critical CVEs on the same day as the vulnerability details were published. The number of vulnerabilities then drops off across the first week and drops further after 1 week, as we would hope for in an efficient time-to-release scenario.

Figure 10: Absolute numbers of critical CVEs with a remote check release date from the date a CVE is published

While raw numbers are good, Tenable have a larger number of checks available so it could be unfair to go on raw numbers alone. It’s potentially more important to understand the likelihood that OpenVAS or Tenable will release a check of a vulnerability on any given day after a CVE for a critical vulnerability is released. In Figure 11 we can see that Tenable release 61% their checks on or before the date that a CVE is published, and OpenVAS release a shade under 50% of their checks on or before the day that a CVE is published.

Figure 11: Percentage chance of delay for critical vulnerabilities

So, since 2010 Tenable has more frequently released their checks before or on the same day as the CVE details have been published for critical vulnerabilities. While Tenable is leading at this point, Greenbone’s community feed still gets a considerable percentage of their checks out on or before day 0.

I thought I’d go another step further and try and see if I could identify any trend in each organisations release delay, are they getting better year-on-year or are their releases getting later? In Figure 12 I’ve taken the mean delay for critical vulnerabilities per year and plotted them. The mean as a metric is particularly influenced by outliers in a data set, so I expected some wackiness and limited the mean to only checks released 180 days prior to a CVE being published and 31 days after a CVE being published. These seem to me like reasonable limits, as anything greater than 6 months prior to CVE details being released is potentially a quirk of the check details and anything after a 1-month delay is less important for us.

What can we take away from Figure 12?

Figure 12: Release delay year-on-year (lower is better)

With the larger number of checks, and still being able to release a greater percentage of their remote checks for critical vulnerabilities Tenable could win this category. However, the delay time from 2019 and 2020 going to OpenVAS, and the trend lines being so close, I am going to declare this one a tie. It’s a tie.

The takeaway from this is that both vendors are getting their checks out the majority of the time either before the CVE details are published or on the day the details are published. This is overwhelmingly positive for both scanning solutions. Over time both also appear to be releasing remote checks for critical vulnerabilities more quickly.

Written by

Benjamin Marr

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