This could encourage companies to issue security patches more quickly

Google's security team is backing a new seven-day deadline that would allow researchers to make serious vulnerabilities public a week after notifying a company.

Google security engineers Chris Evans and Drew Hintz said they want critical vulnerabilities under active exploitation to be published seven days after researchers have informed the company about them. They said this will lead to quicker patches and cut the risk of further problems in the future.

“Our standing recommendation is that companies should fix critical vulnerabilities within 60 days — or, if a fix is not possible, they should notify the public about the risk and offer workarounds,” said Evans and Hintz. “We encourage researchers to publish their findings if reported issues will take longer to patch. Based on our experience, however, we believe that more urgent action — within seven days — is appropriate for critical vulnerabilities under active exploitation. The reason for this special designation is that each day an actively exploited vulnerability remains undisclosed to the public and unpatched, more computers will be compromised.”

Right now, companies use either responsible disclosure or full disclosure when dealing with vulnerabilities. Responsible disclosure allows a company as much time as they want to patch an exploit, and the details surrounding the bug aren't revealed to the public until a patch is issued. Full disclosure, on the other hand, means the company and the public are given information about the flaw at the same time. 

Three years ago, Google's security team introduced a 60-day notice in order to find a happy medium between the two disclosures. This meant that researchers could publish details about a flaw for the public to see after 60 days whether a patch was issued or not. 

But it looks like Google is taking this a giant step further by advocating a new seven-day deadline, where researchers can make details about a flaw public only a week after telling the company about it. 

However, Google realizes that seven days is not enough time to patch all vulnerabilities. Even if a company can't address the bug in seven days, the researchers could still publish the details of the software flaw after a week so that the public can protect itself. 

Earlier this month, Google security engineer Tavis Ormandy exposed a Microsoft flaw on Full Disclosure. The Microsoft vulnerability, which was in the Windows kernel driver "Win32k.sys," was featured in a Full Disclosure mailing list on May 17. 

Ormandy also insulted Microsoft on Full Disclosure, saying "As far as I can tell, this code is pre-NT (20+ years) old, so remember to thank the SDL for solving security and reminding us that old code doesn't need to be reviewed ;-)."

Microsoft has been annoyed with Ormandy for publicly discussing vulnerabilities before they could be patched. Microsoft prefers "responsible disclosure," where security experts are asked to report flaws privately to the company.

Sources: Threat Post, Google Online Security Blog

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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