Vulnerability Exploitability Exchange (VEX)
Software Bill of Materials
Vulnerability Exploitability Exchange
Manufacturing Bill of Materials
Operations Bill of Materials
Bill of Vulnerabilities
Extensible Markup Language
Known vulnerabilities inherited from the use of third-party and open source software and the exploitability of the vulnerabilities can be communicated with CycloneDX. Previously unknown vulnerabilities affecting both components and services may also be disclosed using CycloneDX, making it ideal for both VEX and security advisory use cases.
- VEX information can be represented inside an existing BOM, or in a dedicated VEX BOM
- Supports known and unknown vulnerabilities against components and services
- Communicates the vulnerability details, exploitability, and detailed analysis
Independent BOM and VEX BOM
Inventory described in a BOM (SBOM, SaaSBOM, etc) will typically remain static until such time the inventory changes. However, vulnerability information is much more dynamic and subject to change. Therefore, it is recommended to decouple the VEX from the BOM. This allows VEX information to be updated without having to create and track additional BOMs.
VEX is an integral part of the CycloneDX specification providing the convenience of leveraging a single format and tool chain.
With CycloneDX, it is possible to reference a component, service, or vulnerability inside a BOM from other systems or other BOMs. This deep-linking capability is referred to as BOM-Link and is a formally registered URN.
Learn more about how CycloneDX makes use of BOM-Link.
CycloneDX VEX BOMs can also be used with alternative SBOM formats such as SPDX, but without the tight integration or support of an IETF standard for linkage. Vendor support may vary.
BOM With Embedded VEX
CycloneDX also supports embedding VEX information inside a BOM, thus having a single artifact that describes both inventory and VEX data. There are several uses for embedding VEX data including:
- Audit use cases where inventory and vulnerability data need to be captured at a specific point in time
- Automated security tools may opt to create a single BOM with embedded vulnerability or VEX data for convenience and portability
CycloneDX and Third-Party Advisory Formats
Every component or service defined in a CycloneDX BOM may optionally define external references to security advisory feeds. CycloneDX is agnostic to the advisory format, however, the Common Security Advisory Framework (CSAF), an OASIS Open standard, is recommended. Refer to the Security Advisories Use Case for more information.
CSAF also supports an optional VEX profile which can be used with CycloneDX.
High-Level Object Model
BOMs demonstrating VEX capabilities can be found at https://github.com/CycloneDX/sbom-examples