Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/10/security_cost_hit/

Security 'exchange' could hit costs

Swiss security lab opens secrets 'market'

By Phil Manchester

Posted in Developer, 10th July 2007 10:04 GMT

Software development costs could be increased by a new approach to security research. Swiss software security specialist WSLabi says the results of security research are falling into the wrong hands and has launched an online 'secrets' exchange to solve the problem.

Herman Zampariolo, CEO of WSLabi, said: "The world is creating an incredible amount of software and firmware and a lot of it is not secure. We decided to set up an exchange portal to sell security research to ensure researchers get properly rewarded for their work and, at the same time, hackers can't easily get hold of it."

He told Register Developer that WSLabi has evidence that security researchers in Russia and China often sell the results of their research to criminal elements who use them to exploit so-called zero-day vulnerabilities - holes in newly-released software that have not been spotted and patched.

Under the principle of ethical disclosure, security researchers are theoretically obliged to pass on their findings to software developers. But Zampariolo argues that the research is in fact intellectual property and there should be mechanisms to protect it and sell it at market value.

"The number of new vulnerabilities found in developed code could, according to IBM, be as high as 140,000 per year. The marketplace facility on WSLabi will enable security researchers to get a fair price for their findings and ensure that they will no longer be forced to give them away for free or sell them to cyber-criminals," Zampariolo explains.

WSLabi will vet any research results it receives before making them available through its exchange portal. It will advise researchers on the best way to distribute their result to maximise their income and it will only sell research on to genuine, authenticated software and firmware developers.

WSLabi will, of course, charge fees to researchers and purchasers to cover its costs. ®