CVSS Matrix

Why CVSS is the wrong matrix to prioritize your vulnerability

Pallavi Vishwakarma
July 3, 2023

Organizations need to prioritize vulnerabilities to effectively allocate resources, manage risk, meet compliance requirements, stay ahead of potential threats, maintain business continuity, and reduce security spending. And CVSS solves this problem by offering organizations standardization, objective risk assessment, objective measurement, and comparison for prioritizing vulnerabilities. 

However, organizations should not mainly focus on the CVSS score for prioritizing their vulnerability as this score does not consider many factors while deciding the severity in this blog we will discuss why as an organization you should rethink before completely depending on the CVSS score.

What is the CVSS score?

CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) is a numerical scoring system used to assess and quantify the severity of a software vulnerability.  It gives a score based on a number of elements, including the level of access needed to exploit the flaw, the complexity of the attack, and the potential consequences for the target system. The severity is indicated by a score between 0 and 10, with 10 being the most severe.

The goal of CVSS is to provide a standard and consistent method for evaluating the severity of vulnerabilities, enabling organizations to prioritize their remediation efforts based on the risk posed by the vulnerabilities.

Why CVSS is the wrong matrix to prioritize your vulnerability?

CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System) is a numerical scoring system used to assess the severity of a vulnerability. However, relying solely on CVSS scores to prioritize vulnerabilities can be problematic because the scores are based on a limited set of factors and may not accurately reflect the actual risk posed by a vulnerability. This can lead to oversights and missed security risks that could have a significant impact on an organization. A more comprehensive approach that takes into account additional information, such as the attack vector and potential harm, is likely to provide a more accurate and effective means of prioritizing vulnerabilities.

In addition, CVSS scores frequently do not accurately reflect the context of a vulnerability in a given environment, such as the existence of mitigating controls or the possible impact on a given system or set of data. This may lead to a misunderstanding of the order in which a specific vulnerability should be fixed. An environment with strong security controls might assign a low priority to a vulnerability with a high CVSS score, whereas an environment with fewer controls might place a higher priority on the same vulnerability.

Furthermore, the CVSS scoring technique is static, so it doesn't account for changes that take place over time like the discovery of new exploits or the rollout of patches. As a result, the risk of a vulnerability may not be correctly assessed, and the consequent priority assignment may also be wrong. Furthermore, CVSS ratings are frequently arbitrary and might differ significantly depending on the person conducting the evaluation, which can cause discrepancies and misunderstandings.

Limitations of CVSS score:

  • Limited Aspects: CVSS only considers a small number of variables, such as the level of access needed to exploit the vulnerability and its possible impact on the target system, while disregarding other crucial factors like the existence of mitigating controls and the vulnerability's unique context.
  • Static Scoring: CVSS scores do not take into account changes in the threat environment or the creation of new exploits; rather, they are based on a snapshot of the vulnerability at a certain time.
  • Limited Context: CVSS scores do not take into account the particular context of a vulnerability in an organization's environment, thereby causing vulnerabilities to be misprioritized.
  • One-Size-Fits-All Approach: CVSS scores are not customized for specific businesses or organizations, and vulnerabilities may not be prioritized correctly.
  • Lack of Real-World Correlation: CVSS scores are based on hypothetical situations and do not take into account the complexity of real-world systems, they may not adequately reflect the risk that a vulnerability poses in the real world.

Alternatives that organizations can use to prioritize vulnerabilities are:

  1. Threat Intelligence: Taking into account the most recent trends and changes in the threat landscape, the likelihood of an attack, and the potential effects on the company, threat intelligence is included in the prioritizing of vulnerabilities.
  1. Risk-Based Approach: Prioritizing vulnerabilities based on risk involves considering the possible impact and harm, the likelihood of an attack, and the presence of mitigation mechanisms.
  1. Vulnerability Management Platforms: Using a vulnerability management platform that takes into account a variety of elements, such as threat intelligence, contextual information, and CVSS scores, to provide a more thorough and useful method of prioritizing vulnerabilities.


CVSS scores provide a starting point for vulnerability prioritization but should not be the sole determining factor. A more holistic approach that considers multiple factors, including the impact and potential harm, the presence of mitigating controls, the latest research, and developments, and the specific context of the vulnerability is necessary to provide a more accurate and effective means of prioritizing vulnerabilities.

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