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Risk report: Four years of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4

Mar 11, 2009, 14:03 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Mark Cox)

"1. Introduction
We measure the overall risk of running Enterprise Linux 4 as a function of two factors; the vulnerabilities and the threats. Our first section covers the security vulnerabilities found in packages that are part of Enterprise Linux 4 and the advisories that address them. Our second section covers the threats by examining actual exploitation of those vulnerabilities through exploits and worms.

"All the data used to generate this report, tables, and graphs, apply to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 AS from release day, 15 February 2005 to 14 February 2009 unless otherwise stated.

"2. Vulnerabilities
At first sight it may appear that Red Hat have released a lot of updates for Enterprise Linux 4; in the last twelve months publishing a total of 107 security advisories to address 251 individual vulnerabilities. But in reality this is by far a worst-case metric, as it treats all vulnerabilities as equal, regardless of their severity and assumes a system that has installed every available package - which is not a default or even a likely installation.

"With the release of Enterprise Linux 4, we started publishing severity levels with package errata to help users determine which advisories were the ones that mattered the most. Providing a prioritised risk assessment helps customers to understand and better schedule upgrades to their systems, being able to make a more informed decision on the risk that each issue places on their unique environment. Red Hat rates the impact of individual vulnerabilities on a four-point scale designed to be an at-a-glance guide to how worried Red Hat is about each security issue."

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