The phantom menace of CVE-2019-3826: Unmasking the false positive

John Speed Meyers, Principal Research Scientist
October 31, 2023

Disclaimer: The CVEs in these stories are real, but the names of people involved are fictional for privacy and storytelling purposes.

While false negatives are the scariest ghost CVEs, don’t discount the risks of false positives. By some accounts, most scanner reported vulnerabilities aren’t actually exploitable! This means wasted effort: either manually marking vulnerabilities as “not affecting” your deployment, or spending all of your developer time updating needlessly.

Fortunately, Chainguard Images come with an advisory feed where we do the analysis work for you. The below story describes one particular false positive, which affects applications using Prometheus for metrics only if they expose the web UI. Our OPA Gatekeeper Image doesn’t, so we issued an advisory that this is a false positive even if a scanner exposes it.

The Story

In the chilling world of software development, where lines of code whisper ancient incantations, there exists a tale that will rattle even the bravest developer's keyboard. Gather 'round, for this Halloween, we plunge into the depths of the digital realm to unveil a most ghastly story yet—the cursed code not present, a false positive that invokes a Halloween fright.

One fateful, moonless night, a brilliant coder, Sarah, whose very existence thrived on conquering the digital unknown, saw her world descend into chaos as the scanner emitted a terrifying proclamation. A sinister vulnerability, known by its accursed name—CVE-2019-3826—had been unearthed within the code. The specter of impending doom loomed, and visions of data breaches and digital pandemonium consumed Sarah's thoughts.

But Sarah was not an ordinary developer; she possessed arcane knowledge—a tool of unimaginable power known as Chainguard Images. With a trembling hand, Sarah harnessed this eldritch magic to pierce the veil of deception woven by the scanner.

Chainguard Images possess an otherworldly ability—an oracle that could distinguish between the genuine threat and the spectral illusion. Sarah invoked the oracle's wisdom with a single, whispered command.

In a ghastly revelation, Chainguard Images unveiled the cursed secrets of CVE-2019-3826. It whispered that this vulnerability preyed upon applications that dared to wield Prometheus for metrics, only to curse those that exposed the accursed web UI. Yet, in Sarah's creation, the OPA Gatekeeper Image, the web UI remained concealed—a sanctuary, shielding them from the ravenous jaws of the false positive.

Relief washed over Sarah as the nightmare was over. Her application was cleansed of the phantom curse, the false positive that had sought to lead them astray.

But dear developers, heed this ominous warning: within the haunted realm of vulnerability scanning, false positives may roam unchecked, like restless spirits. The night is filled with terrors, but Chainguard Images stands as a sentinel, guarding against the deceitful wraiths of spectral vulnerabilities. 

So, as you embark on your own treacherous journey through the realm of code, remember the harrowing tale of Sarah and the cursed code that once threatened her trusted image. When the scanner's cry pierces the silence of your digital night, turn to Chainguard Images, the key to unlocking truth amidst a haunted abyss of code. This Halloween, may your code remain untainted by false positives, and may your creations emerge victorious against the unseen ghosts that lurk within. Happy coding, and Happy Halloween! 

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