What are Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEVs), and why should you care?

As embedded Linux developers, we navigate a world of code, configurations, and complex systems daily. It’s a universe where every line of code is a potential gateway for malicious actors seeking to exploit vulnerabilities.

Today, we’ll embark on a journey to demystify Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEVs), uncover their significance in the realm of embedded Linux devices, explore the practical aspects of detecting and mitigating KEVs, and prepare ourselves for the regulatory compliance requirements of KEVs.

Whether you’re crafting devices for healthcare, industrial automation, automotive, critical infrastructure, or any other sector, the principles and insights here will resonate with you.

KEVs vs. CVEs: What’s the difference?

Before we dive into the world of KEVs, let’s set the stage by understanding their relationship with Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs). While CVEs are familiar terms in the cybersecurity lexicon, KEVs bring a different flavor to the table.


How do KEVs differ from CVEs in terms of identification and exploitation?

Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) are standardized identifiers for known vulnerabilities. They provide a common language for discussing security issues across the industry.

However, KEVs are a breed of vulnerabilities with a distinct characteristic: KEVs are vulnerabilities that have been exploited in the wild. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) maintains a detailed source of KEVs that have been exploited in the wild. This crucial difference sets KEVs apart from CVEs, as it signifies that these vulnerabilities aren’t just theoretical threats—they’re real and have been used by malicious actors to breach systems.


Why should you be aware of the distinctions between KEVs and CVEs when securing embedded Linux devices?

Understanding this distinction is vital because KEVs can pose a more immediate and critical threat to your embedded Linux devices. While CVEs represent known weaknesses, KEVs signify known weaknesses that have been weaponized. As embedded Linux developers, comprehending this difference can empower you to prioritize your security efforts effectively and decrease the time and resources you spend on keeping your devices secure.


How do KEVs pose a real threat to the security of your embedded or medical Linux devices?

KEVs aren’t abstract concepts—they’re the hidden chinks in your device’s armor, waiting to be exploited by the cunning and unscrupulous. Their presence can lead to security breaches that may jeopardize your device’s integrity.

Imagine you’re working on a medical device used in critical care situations. A KEV lurking in the software could potentially compromise patient safety leading to life-threatening situations, negatively impact your company and brand’s reputation, and result in legal ramifications.

These high stakes underscore the significance of KEVs in device security and why it’s vital to detect and address KEVs promptly. When you understand the implications of KEVs, you’ll appreciate the urgency of bolstering your security measures.


What are the best practices to detect and mitigate KEVs and enhance your device security?

Detecting KEVs in your embedded Linux systems isn’t a straightforward task. It requires a combination of robust tools, vigilant monitoring, and expertise.

Vigiles, our best-in-class Software Bill of Materials (SBOMs) generation and management, and vulnerability monitoring and remediation tool helps streamline this process with a Known Exploited Vulnerabilities (KEV) Catalog Filter. With Vigiles as your triage assistant, you’re able to focus your efforts on prioritizing the vulnerabilities that actually affect your devices instead of wafting through an endless stream of data that doesn’t apply to you.

Compared to the National Vulnerability Database (NVD), Vigiles provides you with up to 40% more accurate information on vulnerabilities by pulling data from multiple sources for more coverage, earlier reporting, and a comprehensive CVE/CPE/KEV database.

Once you’ve identified the KEVs that affect your devices, you can resolve them. The mitigation process for KEVs involves patching the vulnerabilities, implementing security measures, and fortifying your system’s defenses.


How do KEVs impact regulatory compliance in the embedded systems industry?

Efficiently managing KEVs is also essential for compliance and security. KEVs can complicate your compliance efforts, potentially causing headaches when dealing with industry regulations.

In the world of embedded Linux devices, compliance with industry regulations and standards is paramount. The presence of KEVs can add a layer of complexity to your compliance efforts.

KEVs are not just technical vulnerabilities; they can also be compliance roadblocks. Failing to address these vulnerabilities can result in non-compliance with industry-specific regulations. For instance, in the medical device industry, where adherence to FDA regulations such as the FDA PATCH Act is critical, the presence of KEVs could lead to costly compliance challenges.

To address the potential compliance challenges posed by KEVs, it’s essential to have a strategy in place. This might involve conducting thorough vulnerability assessments, implementing security measures, and documenting your efforts to demonstrate compliance.

How can you meet compliance requirements without sacrificing security?

In the case of KEVs and ensuring you meet compliance, our Vigiles SBOM dashboard empowers you and simplifies the process. Generate, track, and monitor multiple SBOMs across industry-standard formats, such as CycloneDX and SPDX, with Vigiles and compare the information to a curated list of CVEs and KEVs to understand at-a-glance what vulnerabilities and risks you need to address today.

If your device or product has a license violation, Vigiles will proactively alert you. In addition, Vigiles notifies you immediately if your SBOMs meet the NTIA minimum element conformance standards and adheres to the latest FDA cybersecurity guidelines.


What is the role of KEVs in postmarket monitoring for embedded Linux devices?

Your journey with KEVs doesn’t end with device deployment. Postmarket monitoring is a critical phase where you continue to assess your devices’ security and functionality once they’re in the hands of users. With new regulations such as the Europe Cyber Resilience Act (EU CRA) on the horizon, postmarket monitoring is also becoming a more and more commonplace regulatory requirement.

Incorporating KEVs into your postmarket monitoring process is essential. It ensures that you remain vigilant and responsive to emerging threats and stay compliant. By actively monitoring for KEVs, you can detect and address potential vulnerabilities that may arise as your devices are used in the field.

Postmarket monitoring isn’t just about ensuring security; it’s also about maintaining customer trust. If your devices are widely adopted, any security breaches resulting from KEVs can damage your reputation and erode trust with your customer base.

By staying proactive in postmarket monitoring and addressing KEVs as they emerge, you can bolster your device security and maintain the trust and confidence of your customers. This phase of the device lifecycle is an ongoing commitment to security and quality.


Misconception: KEVs don’t affect me, they only affect big companies

In the journey to understand and address KEVs, it’s crucial to dispel common misconceptions and limiting beliefs that may hinder your effective KEV management.

One common misconception is that KEVs are only relevant to large organizations or high-profile targets. In reality, KEVs can affect devices of all sizes and industries. Understanding this can help you avoid complacency and take appropriate security measures.

Another common misconception is that addressing KEVs is overly complex and costly. While it’s true that security measures require an investment, the cost of not addressing KEVs can be far higher in terms of potential breaches and compliance violations.

For example, in the case of Log4j and according to Swarmnetcis, the vulnerability cost Equifax at least $700 million in fees, and untold amounts in customer trust.


What actionable steps can you take to secure your embedded Linux devices against KEVs?

As we conclude our journey through the realm of KEVs in embedded Linux devices, it’s time to explore the critical role that professional services and products play in safeguarding these systems.

Securing your devices against KEVs involves a multi-faceted approach. You can start by conducting a comprehensive vulnerability assessment to identify potential weaknesses in your systems. This assessment provides a clear picture of your device’s security posture, highlighting areas that require attention.

Once vulnerabilities are identified, you can implement security measures to mitigate risks. This may involve patching, applying security updates, and hardening configurations. Regular security audits and testing can ensure that your defenses remain robust.


How can you assess your device’s vulnerability to KEVs and address any existing issues?

Vulnerability assessments are instrumental in assessing your device’s susceptibility to KEVs. By identifying vulnerabilities early, you can proactively address them before they can be exploited by malicious actors. This assessment isn’t a one-time effort; it should be an ongoing practice to adapt to evolving threats.

Now, let’s transition to the heart of the matter—how professional services and products can bolster your security efforts.


How can Timesys help streamline your security process?

In your mission to secure embedded Linux devices against KEVs, you don’t have to go it alone. Professional services and products, like those offered by Timesys, can be invaluable assets in your security arsenal.

At Timesys, we’re here to assist you in securing and maintaining your devices for the long-term. This includes vulnerability assessments, security audits, threat modeling, and ongoing support. Our team of embedded experts work alongside your development team to identify vulnerabilities, develop mitigation strategies, and ensure that your devices meet compliance requirements.

Timesys also offers a suite of security products, from VigiShield: Secure by Design to Vigiles, that are purpose-built to enhance the security of embedded Linux devices. For example, Vigiles encompass vulnerability scanning, monitoring, and management tools that provide real-time visibility into potential threats and vulnerabilities.

With Timesys, you can take a proactive stance in securing your devices.


Achieve Compliance, Security, and Peace of Mind

In the world of embedded Linux devices, compliance and security are non-negotiable. Compliance ensures that your devices meet industry regulations and standards, while security safeguards your devices against threats like KEVs.

Timesys understands the unique challenges faced by embedded Linux developers. Our professional services and products are tailored to address these challenges head-on. We partner with you to achieve compliance, enhance security, and provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your devices are well-protected.

KEVs are a real and present threat in the embedded Linux landscape. Understanding their nature, impact, and the strategies to address them is crucial. Leveraging professional services and products can significantly strengthen your security posture, ensuring that your devices remain resilient in the face of evolving threats.

We hope this comprehensive guide has shed light on the complexities of KEVs and how you can protect your embedded Linux devices. If you’re ready to take the next steps in securing your devices or have further questions, Timesys is here to assist you.

Together, we can achieve compliance, security, and peace of mind in the world of embedded Linux.