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The Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP)


The Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP) is a suite of standards for automating the management of computer security. It’s designed to provide a standardized approach for maintaining the security of enterprise systems. Here is a breakdown of key aspects of SCAP:

  1. Components: SCAP consists of several standards, each focusing on a different aspect of security management. These include:
  • XCCDF (eXtensible Configuration Checklist Description Format): A specification language for writing security checklists, benchmarks, and related documents.
  • OVAL (Open Vulnerability and Assessment Language): Used to determine the presence of vulnerabilities and configuration issues on systems.
  • CCE (Common Configuration Enumeration): Provides a unique identifier for system configuration issues to facilitate fast and accurate correlation of configuration data across multiple information sources.
  • CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures): A dictionary of publicly known information security vulnerabilities and exposures.
  • CWE (Common Weakness Enumeration): A list of software weakness types.
  • CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System): A free and open industry standard for assessing the severity of computer system security vulnerabilities.
  • CPE (Common Platform Enumeration): A standardized method of describing and identifying classes of applications, operating systems, and hardware devices.
  1. Purpose: SCAP is designed to enable automated vulnerability management, measurement, and policy compliance evaluation. It allows organizations to assess, maintain, and monitor the security of their systems more effectively.

  2. Adoption: SCAP is widely used in government and industry, particularly in environments where compliance with standards like FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) is required.

  3. Development and Maintenance: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States plays a key role in developing and maintaining SCAP.

  4. Versioning: SCAP evolves over time with new versions incorporating improvements and addressing emerging security needs.

  5. Integration: SCAP can be integrated with various security tools and systems, allowing for a more streamlined and automated approach to security management.

References (normative)

Open SCAP - An implementation of SCAP

OpenSCAP is an open-source framework for implementing the Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP). It provides a set of tools for the automated management and enforcement of security compliance and vulnerability detection. Here’s a detailed look at OpenSCAP:

  1. SCAP Implementation: OpenSCAP is one of the most comprehensive implementations of SCAP, adhering to the standards set by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States. It supports various SCAP components like XCCDF, OVAL, CVE, CCE, CVSS, and CPE.

  2. Components of OpenSCAP:

  • OpenSCAP Library: The core of OpenSCAP, providing functionality for SCAP-based security scans.
  • SCAP Workbench: A graphical user interface that simplifies the process of configuring and running security scans.
  • oscap-anaconda-addon: An add-on for the Anaconda installer, which allows users to apply security policies during system installation.
  • OpenSCAP Daemon: A service designed for periodic vulnerability scanning and compliance checking.
  1. Functionality:
  • Vulnerability Assessment: Scans systems for known vulnerabilities using OVAL definitions and reports on detected issues.
  • Configuration Compliance: Checks systems against security baselines or policies, typically defined in XCCDF format, and reports on compliance.
  • Automated Remediation: Offers capabilities to automatically apply fixes for certain detected vulnerabilities or non-compliance issues.
  • Reporting: Generates detailed reports on scan results, including compliance status and detected vulnerabilities.
  1. Integration and Extensibility: OpenSCAP can integrate with other management tools and has been adopted in various security and management platforms. It can also be extended or customized to fit specific organizational needs.

  2. Community and Support: Being open-source, it benefits from community support and contributions, ensuring continual improvement and updates in line with evolving security standards and threats.

  3. Usage Scenarios: Commonly used in environments where adherence to standards like FISMA is required, OpenSCAP is suitable for government, defense, and any organization that needs to maintain high standards of security compliance.

OpenSCAP’s effectiveness as a tool for compliance and vulnerability management lies in its comprehensive support for SCAP standards, its adaptability to various environments, and its open-source nature, which allows for continual improvement and customization.

OpenSCAP is developed by Red Hat.

Use with Ubuntu

One needs to install the python3-openscap (or python-openscap, depending on the Ubuntu version) first.



Obsoletes (which doesn’t work on Ubuntu anyway).

Page last modified: 2023-12-11 09:39:41