For the past ten years or so, organizations have been trying to implement operational policies to avoid “Full Disclosure” reports or “Open Bug Bounty” whose methods are not that good in terms of honesty and responsibility.
Speaking of responsibility, you may be familiar with the notion of “Responsible Disclosure” and you wonder how it differs from the concept of Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure?
The concept of responsible disclosure has too often been at the root of endless discussions:
On the one hand the vendors denounce “Disclosing a vulnerability without providing patches is not responsible”.
and the other, “Don’t fix this vulnerability as quickly as possible is not responsible”, say security researchers.
During this precious time when both sides argue, the system concerned is at the opponent’s mercy.
In order to move towards greater efficiency and to get out of sterile debates, it is therefore important to avoid speaking of “responsible disclosure”. This is why many organizations advocate the concept of “Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure” (CVD) in order to promote and strengthen cooperation between the various actors in cybersecurity, all of whom have a common goal: Make the Internet safer.
Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure
Theory & Definitions
Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure (CVD) is a process aimed at reducing risk and ultimately mitigating potential damage caused by a vulnerability affecting an information system. CVD is a process that cannot be reduced to the deployment of a patch or publication of a report, even though these events are indicators of the efficiency of cooperation.
A bug bounty platform such as our Bounty Factory facilitates the cooperation of thousands of security experts and organizations.
Cooperation: it is a key element of Cyber Governance.
Guillaume Vassault Houlière | YesWeHack CEO
Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure is therefore the process of collecting information from Security Researchers, coordinating the sharing of this information among actors, and disclosing the existence of vulnerabilities (software or even hardware) and their mitigation measures to various stakeholders, including the public.
Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure significantly increases the likelihood of success of any vulnerability response process. Contributions are often vulnerability reports written by security researchers.
CVD reports for a product (software or hardware) typically include patches as well as vulnerability report documentation or recordings in a vulnerability database.
NB: many operational vulnerabilities can be corrected by the operator and do not necessarily result in public disclosure.
Vulnerability disclosure is a process by which vendors and people who discover vulnerabilities can work collaboratively to find solutions that reduce the risks associated with a vulnerability.
ISO/IEC 29147 standard defining Vulnerability Disclosure
This process includes actions such as the reporting, coordination and publication of information on one vulnerability, its mitigation or, ideally, its remediation.
Let’s zoom in the concept :
- Reduce the risk of damage
- Believe in good deeds, believe in good Samaritans
- Avoid randomness
- Boost cooperation
- Follow the code of ethics
- Learn from the OODA loop
- Consider CVD as a process navigating between the “best” and the “worst”.
- Ensure that identified vulnerabilities are – well – addressed;
- Reduce the risk of vulnerability;
- Provide users with sufficient information to assess the risks associated with the vulnerabilities of their systems;
Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure commonly begins with the detection of a vulnerability and ends with the deployment of patches or mitigation.
Therefore, several actors are involved in the CVD process:
- Security researcher – the person or organization that identifies vulnerability.
- Reporter – the person or organization who notifies the vendor
- Vendor – the individual or organization that created or maintains the product that is vulnerable
- System Administrator – an individual or organization that must implement a corrective action or take other corrective actions.
- Coordinator – an individual or organization that facilitates the coordinated response process
- Discovery – Someone discovers a vulnerability in a product.
- Report – The product vendor or a third party coordinator receives a vulnerability report.
- Qualification – The recipient of a report validates it to ensure its accuracy before prioritizing it for further action.
- Remediation – A remediation plan (ideally a software patch) is developed and tested.
- Public Awareness – Vulnerability and corrective measures are disclosed to the public.
- Deployment – Corrective measures are applied to the systems concerned.
The reporting step is important because it requires the creation of secure channels to ensure that transmitted information is not intercepted by a third party.
However, there are some obstacles within the process:
- No vendor contact available – This may occur because a contact could not be found or because the contact is not reactive.
- Termination of cooperation – participants in the CVD process may have other priorities that attract their attention.
- Information leakage – Whether intentional or unintentional, information for a small group of actors can be passed on to others who are not involved in the CVD process.
- Independent Discovery – Any vulnerability that can be found by one individual can be found by another, and not everyone will tell you about it.
- Active Exploitation – Evidence that a vulnerability is being actively exploited by adversaries requires accelerating the CVD process to reduce users’ exposure to risk.
- Communication is deteriorating – CVD is a process of coordinating human activities. As such, its success depends on the quality of the relationships between the participants.
- Marketing – In some cases, vulnerabilities can be used as a marketing tool. This is not always conducive to the smooth running of the CVD process.
To sum up:
Vulnerability disclosure practices are no longer restricted to web applications. The Internet of Things and the constellation of SCADA systems, connected health devices, CCTV, Connected cars, etc. have become so dependent on software and the Internet that they increase the exposure perimeter and will inevitably be exposed to new attacks.
The Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure is a major ally to federate the largest number of cyberspace actors and stimulate the exchange of knowledge to ensure both security and privacy protection by design.
By encouraging cooperation, CVD will enable all stakeholders not only to defend their common information assets but also to fight more effectively against the black market and the resale of Zerodays.
The set is now planted, so let’s switch from theory to practice.
Security.txt: the promising RFC!
In order to respond to the lack of contacts available to disclose a vulnerability on a website, security researcher EdOverflow, well inspired by the role of the famous robots. txt, suggested since the beginning of August 2017 to include in each website the file security.txt as a reference file containing the procedure to be followed to disclose more effectively to the editor of a site a bug, a vulnerability.
This approach has the merit of establishing clear guidelines for security researchers on how to report security issues and allows bug bounty programs to use them as a basis for defining the attack perimeter for future researchers.
[Edit] Where should I put the security.txt file?
The security.txt file should be placed under the /.well-known/ path (/.well-known/security.txt) [RFC5785].
Bug Bounty as part of your disclosure policy
As part of agile development on their own products, more and more vendors are choosing to be proactive by stimulating and cooperating with IT researchers:
- by relying on in-house resources and expertise;
- by contracting directly with external researchers;
- via a platform that will connect researchers and one vendor. The latter will therefore pay for the result and will be able to choose between various options such as program management or even patch management if its internal resources are not sufficient.
NB: The creation and long-term implementation of a Bug Bounty program is considered as an indicator of the maturity of publishers’ E-governance in terms of vulnerability.
Since 2013, YesWeHack has been developing tools that greatly facilitate the implementation of an incentive policy for CVD.
YesWeHack, its community and ecosystem of services enable organizations and IT security researchers to better cooperate.
Thanks to the tools developed by YesWeHack, beneficiary organizations can more easily overcome the obstacles encountered by their CVD policy. In addition, organizations gain reputation by demonstrating their appetite and willingness for continuously improving their systems.
Bountyfactory.io as the first European platform of Bug bounty.
- Cooperation with European partners and providers as a matter of sovereignty.
- Legal and technical infrastructure that meets the highest security requirements.
- Security and confidentiality of communications based on encryption and compliance with ISO standards.
- Securing financial transactions between organizations and security researchers.
- Payment platform compliant with European anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing arrangements.
- Support throughout the entire process: from the drafting of the program to assistance with corrective measures.
- Operational ranking of the best researchers: Management of a security research community.
- Reactivity that enables the best researchers to be mobilized in record time.
- Ability to organize different types of Bounty bug programs (Private / Public / In situ / Hardware and/or Software).
Give it a try ! Register on BountyFactory.io
What should I do if a product does not offer Bug Bounty or Security.txt?
A simple and effective tool to avoid full disclosure of vulnerabilities in the wild.
It is important to note that some products (software or hardware) do not have their own Bug Bounty program. Thus, it is difficult for a security researcher to report a vulnerability to a vendor. Not all countries have a law allowing this kind of practice, as is the purpose of Article 47 of the Law for a Digital Republic initiated by ANSSI.
YesWeHack has created Zerodisclo.com to facilitate the escalation of vulnerabilities in a secure and even anonymous way and put in touch the different actors working for a safer Internet.
Thanks to Zerodisclo several obstacles are removed: no login, anonymization of the report via the Tor (.onion) network and mandatory and automatic encryption of the report content with the public PGP key of the CERT chosen.
The list of CERTs included in ZeroDisclo.com
Please find below the infographic of ZeroDisclo.com