What is a vulnerability disclosure policy?
A vulnerability disclosure policy aims to give ethical hackers clear guidelines to submit unknown and harmful vulnerabilities to organizations. This policy ensures that you have an open communication mechanism for anyone interested in reporting vulnerabilities in your products and services. So, why do you need to publish a vulnerability disclosure policy? What are the differences between Vulnerability Disclosure Programs (VDP) and bug bounty programs? If you are interested, please continue reading our article to learn more about the vulnerability disclosure policy.
Why do you need to publish a vulnerability disclosure policy?
Vulnerability disclosure is the process of making information about flaws in operating systems, applications, and business processes public. The goal is to have product vendors fix flaws, and users can take actions against them before the same flaws are found and exploited by people with bad intentions.
Vulnerabilities are often discovered by security researchers looking for them. Since cybercriminals and hostile nation-states are also aiming to spot out these vulnerabilities, they must be fixed as soon as they are discovered. Vulnerability disclosure by decent people is an essential part of this process.
Differences between Vulnerability Disclosure Programs (VDP) and bug bounty programs
Vulnerability disclosure programs are a structured way for third parties, researchers, and ethical hackers to easily report security vulnerabilities. The bug bounty is a reward that organizations offer to ethical hackers for discovering bugs.
With a bug bounty program, when hackers discover a vulnerability, they fill out a disclosure report with the severity, technical details, and impact of the bug. These details help the security team verify the issue and create a solution to fix it.
Who needs a vulnerability disclosure program?
If your organization obtains personal information and promises to protect it securely, you should have VDP.
That is especially important for any organization that works directly or indirectly with the US government. The VDP should include a method for reporting security investigations to fix vulnerabilities.
Key aspects of a good vulnerability disclosure program
This section explains why the policy was created and the objectives of the policy. Vulnerability reporting can reduce risk and potentially eliminate the expense and reputational damage caused by a successful cyberattack.
This section highlights that the organization should follow the policy. It also expressly declares its commitment not to take legal action for security research activities that follow a “good faith” effort.
The guidelines also set the limits of the rules of engagement for ethical hackers. That may include an explicit request to provide notification as soon as possible after the discovery of a potential vulnerability.
Coverage provides a clear view of the properties and internet-connected systems covered by the policy, the products to which it can be applied, and the types of vulnerabilities applicable. The scope should also include all unauthorized testing methodologies.
This section contains instructions on where to submit vulnerability reports. It also covers the information the organization needs to find and analyze the vulnerability.
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