Russian security firm rails against responsible disclosure

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Russian security firm rails against responsible disclosure

Posts full details of zero-day exploits.

A little known Russian security firm has taken the bold step of releasing details of zero-day exploits in business software every day for the rest of January, according to reports.

Security expert Brian Krebs revealed that Intevydis will post advisories on products from big name vendors such as IBM, Novell and Sun Microsystems, in protest at a 'responsible disclosure' policy which it regards as a waste of time.

The firm has already made good on its threat, posting details of a bug in Sun Directory Server 7.0 on Monday and one in Tivoli Directory Server 6.2 yesterday.

Intevydis explained its frustrations with responsible disclosure policies in a recent blog posting.

"Our position on responsible disclosure policy has evolved, and now we do not support it because it is enforced by vendors and it allows vendors to exploit security researchers to do quality assurance work for free," the posting noted.

"You, ABCD company, making N millions per year selling your buggy XYZ product all over the world, why are you asking to give the results of the hard work during many years for free?

"Instead of wasting your and our time would not it be better to allocate resources to enforce good coding practices for all your amateur software developers?"

Intevydis' unprecedented move is likely to reignite the wider arguments for and against responsible disclosure of newly found vulnerabilities.

Security researchers have complained in the past that they often have more chance of a vendor fixing a problem if it is published without consultation, than if they disclose that flaw in private to the vendor.

Security experts were quick to criticise Intevydis, however. Rick Howard, director of intelligence at VeriSign's iDefense managed security services arm, argued that the news would be "a very unwelcome, belated Christmas present for any company in the firing line".

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, went further, suggesting that Intevydis is "effectively putting a gun against the head of a software vendor".

"If a software vendor has failed to respond in an appropriate time to a vulnerability that exists in its shipping code then you don't have to go public with details of the security hole," he wrote in a blog posting.

"Instead, you could use the power of the media to your advantage. Rather than posting detailed specifics of how to exploit the vulnerability on the internet, work with a friendly journalist. It will make a great news story, and that will pressure the vendor to take the necessary steps."

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