A Basic Guide to SCAP

Morey Haber, March 24th, 2011

The Security Content Automation Protocol (SCAP, pronounced S-cap) is a suite of open standards that when referenced together, deliver an automated vulnerability management, measurement, and policy compliance evaluation for network assets. The first version of the suite specification focused on standardizing communication of endpoint related data and to provide a standardized approach to maintaining the security of enterprise systems. It provides a means to identify, express and measure security data in standardized ways such that products from multiple vendors can consume or produce SCAP content for correlation of security information. Each standard within the specification is individually maintained and provides revisions and updates independent of the SCAP specification.

Version 1.0 of SCAP includes the following standards and versions:

The draft version of 1.1 of specification expands the specification to include Open Checklist Interactive Language (OCIL, pronounced  O-sil) and changes specification to adhere to version 5.8 of the OVAL specification. OCIL is a new component that defines a framework for expressing a set of questions a user must answer and corresponding procedures to interpret responses to these queries.  OCIL was developed as a supplement for IT security checklists and is not restricted to IT security alone. It allows an assessment to occur and vital information entered that not can be observed electronically (i.e Is there a lock on the server rack door?). This information is then stored with the results to obtain a better picture of the assets security.

The two most common implementations of SCAP (so far) are for vulnerability assessment and configuration compliance. Using OVAL definitions, an SCAP compatible (certified) solution can ingest an XML file with vulnerability signatures or configuration benchmark checks and perform a local or network based assessment for systems that are non-compliant. The product will store the results of the scan in OVAL results and XCCDF results format and have references to CVE, CCE, CPE, and CVSS in the result XML file using standard nomenclature to describe the finding. Essentially, this process defines the check types and definitions using OVAL, and how those checks should be applied and reported using XCCDF, and that the contents of the results all contain the same parameters regardless of product. This makes interoperability between SCAP certified products possible for OVAL content creation to reporting on the end results and storage in a database.

eEye’s Retina solutions are SCAP Certified. If you are looking for a solution that can communicate vulnerability and configuration information in a standard format, please click here. Our solutions are enabled to solve the problems SCAP was designed for.