Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Application Security

3/5/2018
06:10 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

More Security Vendors Putting 'Skin in the Game'

Secure messaging and collaboration provider Wickr now publicly shares security testing details of its software.

Product warranties, while still rare in the security industry, appear wildly popular among enterprises looking for more guarantees from their vendors. More than a dozen security vendors now offer some sort of warranty for their products and services.

Proofpoint, Symantec, SentinelOne, and Trustwave are among the security product vendors that reimburse customers for various security failures with their products or services. Symantec, for instance, offers coverage with its LifeLock identity theft protection service coverage from $25,000 to $1 million for stolen funds, while SentinelOne offers $1,000 per endpoint infected with ransomware and up to $1 million in aggregate per year for a ransomware attack that slips past its endpoint product. But few big-name enterprise security vendors offer warranties today.

Meanwhile, secure messaging and collaboration provider Wickr has created a new security transparency program for its customers that ultimately could lead to a warranty program as well: Wickr today launched what it calls a customer security promises program, which shares with the public the details of its regular third-party software security testing results as well as any resulting remediation tasks.

The program stops short of a product warranty, but Wickr CEO Joel Wallenstrom left the door open for a warranty offering at some point. "Warranties are very intriguing, and pretty close to what we are doing in our promise process," Wallenstrom says.

Security product guarantees increasingly are gaining traction. A study by Vanson Bourne found that 95% of US companies want their security vendors to provide a guarantee on their products and services, and 88% would consider switching to a vendor that offered one.

Wickr's new program, meanwhile, opens up to the public its internal engineering and software testing process, including its code and how it engages with third party software security testing providers. "We're really trying to open the kimono to customers around the world" on how Wickr's code stands up to regular testing and how the firm then makes any relevant fixes, he says. The customer security promises initiative joins the company's existing secure development and bug bounty programs, and provides a framework for third-party testing firms that test Wickr's software.

But Wickr isn't a typical security provider. Its platform is aimed at users and organizations with high levels of privacy and security requirements. Wickr's end-to-end encryption platform uses perfect forward and backward secrecy with a new random key for each message, file, and voice call communication, and Wickr does not store any content. 

"Our customers are pretty self-selecting," notes Wallenstrom. "They are pretty serious about data security."

NCC Group, the third-party software security testing firm currently working with Wickr in the new program, says Wickr is the first of its vendor clients offering such transparency. "They started the next bar," says Ollie Whitehouse, CTO at NCC Group. Whitehouse expects GDPR to place more regulatory and economic pressures on other companies and vendors to perform stronger software-security due diligence akin to Wickr's efforts. "Anyone with PII [personally identifiable information]," for example, he says.

Jeremiah Grossman, chief of security strategy at SentinelOne, has been pioneering the movement toward security product warranties and guarantees for several years now. He sees Wickr's new testing transparency program as a gamechanger. "Most companies could do this, provided that they know how well their product actually worked," he says.

He says it makes sense for Wickr to lead the way with its program because it's offering secure end-to-end communications that calls for validation and transparency of the code to back up its product claims. "An additional benefit [would be] to add a warranty to it," he says.

Cyber insurance provides a level of risk coverage for enterprises, he notes, but vendors also need to offer some product guarantees, he says. "We're trained to think security can't be guaranteed," Grossman says. "But customers deserve [more]. Vendors need to put some skin in the game."

Cryptography expert Paul Kocher, an advisor to Wickr and one of the industry researchers who discovered the Spectre and Meltdown microprocessor vulnerabilities revealed earlier this year, notes Wickr's testing transparency program isn't for all security vendors. "I don't think a lot of companies are able to do something as comprehensive as Wickr is doing," he says.

Kocher, who is chief scientist at Rambus, says security product liability programs remain a bit of an enigma. There's no clear model for liability, he says. "Are we at a point broadly where the cost benefit of strict liability for security failures is good or bad? When you put in a lot of liability, you slow innovation down," for instance, he says.

Spectre is a current example of the gray area surrounding product liability, according to Kocher. "There are 35 active lawsuits over" Spectre right now, he says.

Related Content:

 

Black Hat Asia returns to Singapore with hands-on technical Trainings, cutting-edge Briefings, Arsenal open-source tool demonstrations, top-tier solutions and service providers in the Business Hall. Click for information on the conference and to register.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
A Realistic Threat Model for the Masses
Lysa Myers, Security Researcher, ESET,  10/9/2019
USB Drive Security Still Lags
Dark Reading Staff 10/9/2019
How to Think Like a Hacker
Dr. Giovanni Vigna, Chief Technology Officer at Lastline,  10/10/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
7 Threats & Disruptive Forces Changing the Face of Cybersecurity
This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at the biggest emerging threats and disruptive forces that are changing the face of cybersecurity today.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-4031
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-16
IBM Workload Scheduler Distributed 9.2, 9.3, 9.4, and 9.5 contains a vulnerability that could allow a local user to write files as root in the file system, which could allow the attacker to gain root privileges. IBM X-Force ID: 155997.
CVE-2019-17626
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-16
ReportLab through 3.5.26 allows remote code execution because of toColor(eval(arg)) in colors.py, as demonstrated by a crafted XML document with '<span color="' followed by arbitrary Python code.
CVE-2019-17627
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-16
The Yale Bluetooth Key application for mobile devices allows unauthorized unlock actions by sniffing Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) traffic during one authorized unlock action, and then calculating the authentication key via simple computations on the hex digits of a valid authentication request. This a...
CVE-2019-17625
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-16
There is a stored XSS in Rambox 0.6.9 that can lead to code execution. The XSS is in the name field while adding/editing a service. The problem occurs due to incorrect sanitization of the name field when being processed and stored. This allows a user to craft a payload for Node.js and Electron, such...
CVE-2019-17624
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-16
In X.Org X Server 1.20.4, there is a stack-based buffer overflow in the function XQueryKeymap. For example, by sending ct.c_char 1000 times, an attacker can cause a denial of service (application crash) or possibly have unspecified other impact.