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The Common Misuse Scoring System (CMSS): Metrics for Software Feature Misuse Vulnerabilities



Elizabeth LeMay, Peter Mell, Karen Scarfone


The Common Misuse Scoring System (CMSS) is a set of measures of the severity of software feature misuse vulnerabilities. A software feature is a functional capability provided by software. A software feature misuse vulnerability is a vulnerability in which the feature also provides an avenue to compromise the security of a system. Such vulnerabilities are present when the trust assumptions made when designing software features can be abused in ways that violates security. Misuse vulnerabilities allow attackers to use for malicious purposes the functionality that was intended to be beneficial. CMSS is derived from the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS), which was developed to measure the severity of vulnerabilities due to software flaws. CMSS can assist organizations in making sound decisions as to how software feature misuse vulnerabilities should be addressed and can provide data to be used in quantitative assessments of the overall security posture of a system. This report defines proposed measures for CMSS and equations to be used to combine the measures into severity scores for each vulnerability. The report also provides examples of how CMSS measures and scores would be determined for selected software feature misuse vulnerabilities.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7864
Report Number


security measurement, trust misuse, vulnerability measurement, vulnerability scoring


LeMay, E. , Mell, P. and Scarfone, K. (2012), The Common Misuse Scoring System (CMSS): Metrics for Software Feature Misuse Vulnerabilities, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed April 16, 2024)
Created July 9, 2012, Updated October 12, 2021