Feeds

Microsoft imposes security disclosure policy on all workers

Redmond joins security advisory mill

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Microsoft has implemented a new company policy requiring all employees to follow a detailed set of procedures when reporting security vulnerabilities in third-party products.

The practices are an evolution of the coordinated vulnerability disclosure doctrine it proposed in July. They're intended to simplify communication among affected parties and reduce the chances that vulnerability reports will result in it being exploited in the wild. Among other things, they require employees to send private notifications to the organization responsible for the vulnerable software, hardware or service and only later publish a public advisory.

“We're definitely into the idea of no surprises for any of our vendors that we find vulnerabilities in,” said Microsoft Senior Security Strategist Katie Moussouris. “We're basically following the golden rule for disclosure, and it's all about protecting customers, because there's no reason to unnecessarily amplify risk by imposing some sort of one-size-fits-all deadline on things.”

The policy (MS Word document here) applies to all Microsoft employees, whether they find vulnerabilities during their personal time or as part of their official duties. The procedures are intended to move away from the doctrine of “responsible disclosure,” which many people in security circles came to resent because it suggested all who disagreed with it were somehow behaving improperly.

Under the policy, Microsoft employees who discover vulnerabilities will report them privately to the third-party organizations responsible. Encrypted email is the favored medium, but only after the employee has identified the right third-party person to receive the report. The reports should include crash dump information, proofs of concept or exploit code, root cause analysis, and other technical details.

“Any vulnerability information provided to the vendor is not intended for public use, but for the vendor's use to identify and remediate the vulnerability,” the policy states.

For the first time, Microsoft will begin publishing advisories about the vulnerabilities its employees have discovered – preferably only after the security hole has been patched. Microsoft may also issue advisories if it learns the bug is being exploited, or in cases where it receives no response from the third party.

The policy appears to be the first time a company has said publicly exactly when and how it will report vulnerabilities in the products of its peers, partners and competitors. In July, Google's security team issued a less detailed policy that said members would generally give companies 60 days to patch vulnerabilities before making them known publicly.

Microsoft has yet to implement a bug-bounty program that compensates researchers for their time and expertise in reporting vulnerabilities in its products. Google and Mozilla have paid rewards for years. Security firm Tipping Point has pledged to make vulnerabilities public six months after reporting them privately.

The Microsoft Vulnerability Research group unveiled the policy on Tuesday, the same day it released two separate advisories for critical vulnerabilities that were fixed in the Opera and Google Chrome browsers months ago. They were discovered by Microsoft researchers David Weston and Nirankush Panchbhai. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management
How using vulnerability assessments to identify exploitable weaknesses and take corrective action can reduce the risk of hackers finding your site and attacking it.