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Hacked Opinions: Vulnerability disclosure - Chris Lord

Steve Ragan | Aug. 7, 2015
Bit9's Chris Lord talks about disclosure, bounty programs, and vulnerability marketing with CSO, in the first of a series of topical discussions with industry leaders and experts.

What I like about bounties is the engagement they encourage between researchers and vendors. A bounty says "we're serious" and draws attention and interest. Coordinated action and mutual respect keeps it going.

A couple trends I think will continue to improve things: multi-sourced bounties such as the Internet Bug Bounty, and crowd sourced bounty hunting such as the one run by Bugcrowd and HackerOne.

Do you think vulnerability disclosures with a clear marketing campaign and PR process, such as Heartbleed, POODLE, or Shellshock, have value?

CL: With campaigns that engage the media, we take the conversation beyond the confines of the security community, software vendors, and those affected. This is a good thing despite the scrambles and scurrying that such visible events cause. It reveals the dependence we have on software, the importance of good hygiene and practices and the necessity of working together.

If the proposed changes pass, how do you think Wassenaar will impact the disclosure process? Will it kill full disclosure with proof-of-concept code, or move researchers away from the public entirely preventing serious issues from seeing the light of day? Or, perhaps, could it see a boom in responsible disclosure out of fear of being on the wrong side of the law?

CL: Wassenaar is a Cold War relic and the proposed extension still treats digital information as a physical entity that can be collected and controlled. Free flow of information and decentralization will win out in the end. However, if the changes pass, Wassenaar will quell security research and communities that span borders--communities that never really recognized or cared about those borders before.

We'll eventually test the legal boundaries--keeping another profession busy--and find our way in and around the new regime. (During this time, there will be an uptick in T-shirts bearing 0-day code.)

Commercial security products are excluded from the changes, but they too are dual-use technologies with off-label application in covert surveillance, detection, subversion and control. Will they be next?


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