Replying in line...
On Apr 24, 2015, at 12:03 PM, Nathanael D. Noblet
This is fantastic information and nearly perfectly what I was looking
for. I think it would make a great first read for people trying to get
into this area. Apologies for the top post but most of my resulting
questions don't fit nicely into what you've provided.
Glad to hear the
information was useful.
Shawn's answers to your questions are great covering importance nuances that will help
you understand relationships between this and that. I'm going to add my two cents,
The remaining questions are.
#1 - If Scap-Security-Guide is trying to provide OSS SCAP content, why
isn't CentOS included by default?
If you are really, REALLY serious about CERTIFICATION, then you are not just securing an
OS, you are also demonstrating that your tools/people/processes to secure the system are
secure. (And sometimes even the t/p/p that secure the t/p/p that secure the OS are
From a user perspective, CentOS feels like RHEL. But from a build perspective (and
accountability perspective), CentOS is like a clone assembled by another company in
What Shawn details so well is that there is a whole lot of stuff that makes RHEL actually
RHEL that is beyond the source code. So there is a level of promise the
SCAP-Security-Guide can make about RHEL that cannot really be made about for CentOS. Sure
the two are similar--but ultimately he warrants that comes from a person signing off that
X only does Y on OS Z is non-transferable for a valid certification.
Hence the focus has been on RHEL. And that said, I think it is cool use CentOS and SSG
ScAP on CentOs for scrimmage.
#2 - If I were able to get proprietary SCAP for a desired standard.
it so proprietary that it isn't likely to be useful with scanners like
There are two levels of "proprietary."
The first is a proprietary security content that is NOT SCAP just there is markup that is
not SGML or HTML. Some vendors started automated config scanning before the SCAP
standards. Structurally proprietary security content cannot be read by OpenSCAP.
The second is security content expressed in the SCAP standard but is available only under
a proprietary license. This is what Shawn described. If it is SCAP security content,
OpenSCAP can use it. But you need a license to use it.
#3 - Are there places that sell the relevant SCAP files that I may be
interested in that are considered by the community as 'good quality'? If
so what are some of these companies? (With my new found understanding of
all the different pieces I'll be googling around today to see if I can
find some on my own but if people here already know that would be
There are not enough places that sell SCAP or offer security content. Center for Internet
Security is a commonly known vendor. I do not know if they have CentOS security content.
And as pointed out, content varies, just as the quality of HTML or code varies.
Essentially, many tests--like string passwords--are actually composed of several sub
tests. Some security content, even if expressed in SCAP, may only test some of the
#4 - It seems the OpenScap Security Guide is converting some type of
'list of rules' into the scap format for RHEL 6 & 7. And 7 being a work
in progress. Where is it getting the list of rules? What standard are
those rules based on? A side question that no one here can likely
answer, why isn't RHEL setup by default with those rules as 'passing' if
its a good default?
I think that is it for now.
> On Tue, 2015-04-21 at 16:03 -0400, Greg Elin wrote:
> I had the same problem getting started with scanning and auditing.
> Below are a couple of starting points.
> Getting Started with scanning/auditing CentOS 6 with
> For a quick start on auditing CentOS, see the CentOS 6 QuickStart in
> the README at: https://github.com/GovReady/govready
> The QuickStart installs my pure Bourne shell app, "GovReady," which
> installs OpenSCAP, SCAP-Security-Guide (SSG). Follow the QuickStart
> steps to make the adjustments in the OVAL test so the SSG tests for
> RedHat will run correctly on CentOS instead of returning "not
> applicable" results.
> The GovReady toolkit displays all OpenSCAP commands it runs, so it can
> be helpful little training tool to acquaint you the specifics of using
> Getting Started with SCAP-Security-Guide in General
> Forgive me if this is too basic, but I think it is good to start from
> The SCAP-Security-Guide project is a project to produced open-source
> SCAP (Security Content Automation Protocol) for RedHat and now other
> Linux systems.
> SCAP is best thought of machine-readable "security content". That is,
> XML content describing machine-readable checks for software
> configuration and vulnerabilities.
> SCAP is composed of several interrelated XML standards (XCCDF, OVAL,
> OCIL, ARF, CCE, CPE, CVE, CVSS, CCSS) -- but trying to understand how
> the why and how of these separate standards is confusing.
> What you really want to do is audit your CentOS server for
> vulnerabilities and configuration settings, right? To do that,
> you need the following:
> 1. "scanning software" that non-intrusively scans and audits server
> nerd knob settings;
> 2. "security content" (or "SCAP content") that describes the
> apply to audit the server;
> 3. "security report" that indicates which tests passed, which tests
> failed, and why.
> Examples of "scanning software" include RedHat's OpenSCAP, OpenVAS,
> FarnHall Ventures's jOVAL and Teneble's Nessus. Most "security
> content" is provided either by a software vendor or by a third party
> such as Tenable that sells enterprise scanning software. This list, of
> course, offers SCAP-Security-Guide, which is security content in SCAP
> format with an open source license (Hurray!).
> The "security reports" indicating which tests have passed is generally
> a module built into the scanning software. Most scanning software also
> produces standardized XML reporting results so the content can be
> aggregated in other tools.
> Scanning/auditing a system is not really any different from installing
> Virus scanning software and Virus signatures content to scan your
> computer for viruses. But it's been my experience that SCAP feels
> much more complicated. I think there are three reasons why. First,
> the government cyber security community is a bit insular by nature.
> Second, scanning software is designed for scanning thousands of "end
> points" in the enterprise and a lot of knowledge is assumed. Finally,
> SCAP has not yet been packaged to be user friendly and has a steep
> learning curve as a standard. (It's easy to get to over 8 standards
> when you are trying to juggle different platforms, supporting
> variables, standardized tracking of vulnerabilities, etc.)
> Anyway, the whole point of SCAP is to automate security scanning, to
> have computers check other computers. That process involves the
> following steps:
> 1. Install NIST-certified SCAP scanning software
> 2. Download/install desired SCAP Content (e.g. security content) for
> your platform
> 3. Choose the correct profile (e.g., checklist of tests)
> 4. Run the scan
> 5. Look at results
> 6. Fix results
> 7. Repeat as necessary
> Here are some links that discuss the specifics of these seven steps.
> - http://github.com/govready
- a toolkit designed to make server
> auditing friendly to developers use to work with Git.
> - http://myopensourcelife.com/2013/09/08/scap-and-remediation/
> the installation information and jump down to "running a scan" to see
- the SSG manual
> It is pretty easy to install the scanning software of your choice, but
> it can be a real challenge to finding the SCAP content for your
> platform. Lots of SCAP is proprietary, but the SCAP-Security-Guide is
> working to make more scanning content available for more platforms
> under open source licenses. (Or at least, I think of it that way.)
> A big gotcha that I ran into with SCAP-Security-Guide is the fact that
> tests are associated with RedHat platform specifically. (One of the
> SCAP standards, CPE, or Common Platform Enumeration, provides an
> explicit way of universally identifying a platform. And the SSG basic
> distribution tests for RedHat. So it is necessary to adjust
> CPE-dictionary file and the associated CPE test in the OVAL XML to get
> RedHat SSG tests to work properly on CentOS.)
> Send more questions if you have them...
> Greg Elin
> GovReady PBC
> e gregelin@gitmachines
> m 917-304-3488
> On Mon, Apr 20, 2015 at 2:24 PM, Nathanael D. Noblet
> <nathanael(a)gnat.ca> wrote:
> We tend to use CentOS for most of our servers. All legacy
> servers are
> 6, we have two new v7 servers.
> I would like to learn how to perform some of these audits
> that the
> guide provides. I looked at it a few months back but never got
> to the
> point of having it work successfully.
> Does anyone know of documentation on how to use the guide
> with CentOS?
> I know v7 isn't quite ready? I'm also wondering if there are
> locations for standards like PCI DSS, HIPAA, or other high
> 'generally accepted' standards etc.
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