Secunia offers to coordinate vulnerability disclosure on behalf of researchers

New vulnerability coordination program aims to reward security researchers and make their job easier

Danish vulnerability management company Secunia aims to make the task of reporting software vulnerabilities easier for security researchers by offering to coordinate disclosure with vendors on their behalf.

The Secunia Vulnerability Coordination Reward Programme (SVCRP) is the latest addition to a list of offerings like TippingPoint's Zero Day Initiative or Verisign's iDefense Labs Vulnerability Contributor Program, which allow researchers to avoid the hassle of dealing with different vendor bug reporting policies.

However, according to Carsten Eiram, Secunia's chief security specialist, SVCRP doesn't aim to be an alternative to these programs, but to complement them.

"Other major vulnerability coordination offerings exist but most have a business model wrapped around them," Eiram said.

"Most other schemes pay researchers for their discoveries, and, while these offerings are excellent for researchers, the companies are, naturally, very selective in which vulnerabilities they wish to purchase and coordinate," he said.

Secunia plans to fill the void left by other programs by accepting the vulnerabilities they reject, regardless of their classification and as long as they are in off-the-shelf products. Flaws discovered in online services such as Facebook, for example, do not qualify.

The company won't profit directly from SVCRP and doesn't plan to provide advance notification about the reported flaws to its customers, as other companies do. "All customers, as well as the community at large, will receive the information simultaneously when the Secunia advisory is published," the firm said.

Researchers will continue to receive payments they are entitled to from vendors for disclosing vulnerabilities even if they use SVCRP for coordination, Secunia said.

However, vendors have the final word on whether they will pay out rewards to researchers who offload vulnerability coordination work to companies such as Secunia.

For example, the guidelines of Google's Chromium Vulnerability Rewards Program make it clear that vulnerabilities disclosed through brokers and other third parties are not likely to receive a bounty.

"I do not know whether Google would pay for vulnerabilities coordinated via Secunia, however, considering the nature and the purpose of our programme, especially the fact that we don't have a business model wrapped around it, seems to make it more likely that Google would accept reports via Secunia rather than other programmes," said Thomas Kristensen, Secunia's chief security officer and co-founder.

Secunia's own experts will investigate and confirm every submitted vulnerability before sharing it with the corresponding vendor, so researchers will get independent validation of their findings, and affected companies will receive consistent reports.

Unlike other programs, SVCRP doesn't require researchers to provide working exploits for the vulnerabilities they find. Kristensen said that providing only information that allows his company to reproduce the findings will suffice, although additional details are welcome.

This allows security researchers to focus more on what they do best -- finding vulnerabilities -- than on writing reliable exploits, which can take a considerable amount of time. Not all researchers are skilled exploit writers and not every exploit writer is necessarily good at finding vulnerabilities.

Secunia will also reward the program's most valuable contributors, but not with cash. Instead, each year the company will invite to a top security conference the researcher who reported the most interesting vulnerability and the one who submitted the best-quality reports throughout the year.

The Secunia chief security officer would like to see more software companies setting up vulnerability bounty programs in the future. "Researchers do a lot of free Quality Assurance work for vendors. Any reward for their work and their willingness to coordinate the disclosure would be a good move from the vendors," Kristensen said.

Unfortunately, many companies don't yet see the value of that and are not interested in encouraging outsiders to point out their software's flaws, he said.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags secuniasecurityExploits / vulnerabilities

More about FacebookGoogleiDefenseSecuniaTippingPointTippingPointVeriSign Australia

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Lucian Constantin

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts