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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

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In reality
By Shadowself on 5/30/2013 4:49:37 PM , Rating: 3
This is just a guidance 7 days.

There is absolutely nothing that requires disclosure in 7 days, nor is there anything that absolutely forbids the discoverer from disclosing on day zero.

I believe it would be nice if every security investigator that found a hole waited at least 60 days after disclosure to the developer to disclose it to the public as I believe if you can't solve the issue in 60 days (which includes a reasonable testing period) the developer either can't solve it without major architecture changes or the developer doesn't care enough to solve it.

Many small to medium sized developers may not have the resources to respond to vulnerabilities with a fully vetted fix within seven days. Why set up a system that actively penalizes them?

And this does not go for vulnerabilities already being actively exploited in the wild. In those cases the vulnerability needs to be disclosed immediately (though maybe not disclose the low level, nuts and bolts of how the vulnerability is exploited).

"We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs

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