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.

Risk

7/26/2006
04:25 AM
50%
50%

Profit Motives

This business of paying for software bugs has plenty of pros and cons and won't necessarily improve security

12:25 PM -- There's something unsettling about security vendors paying researchers for the software bugs they discover.

It's a delicate dance -- keeping your researcher friends close and your enemies closer. Security software vendors are putting up thousands of dollars, which may come in handy for a hungry grad student, but could also tempt a hungry hacker into cooking up mischief, or hardcore criminals (think identity theft, corporate espionage, or worse) into outbidding the vendors, with five figures instead of "just" four. (See Bucks for Bugs.)

Are security vendors truly keeping software safer by soliciting business with bug writers? Or is this practice merely inviting trouble?

There's no way to prove the bugs for money system actually creates market demand, but you have to wonder. Certainly the idea of intercepting a potential bug before it propagates into the wild makes sense, but does it have to involve cash? How much of this bucks-for-bugs trade is altruistic on the part of security vendors that pay up? Aren't they also trying to gain a financial edge as well, being the first to find and patch a new Windows bug, for example?

And even if all security vendors paid for bugs -- only a handful do today -- there's no way to guarantee it would stop software bugs from being created and disseminated, even with promises of money and gainful employment.

Okay, so maybe this is a little nostalgia for what seems to be increasingly becoming the "old school" Internet days of open research for all, but what's wrong with continuing to encourage researchers to place their findings in the public domain? Many still do this, and it gives all security vendors a shot at finding fixes. It may not halt the practice of selling bugs to bad guys, but it may make it less tempting to sell out.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
For Cybersecurity to Be Proactive, Terrains Must Be Mapped
Craig Harber, Chief Technology Officer at Fidelis Cybersecurity,  10/8/2019
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
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
2019 Online Malware and Threats
2019 Online Malware and Threats
As cyberattacks become more frequent and more sophisticated, enterprise security teams are under unprecedented pressure to respond. Is your organization ready?
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-17537
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-13
Jiangnan Online Judge (aka jnoj) 0.8.0 has Directory Traversal for file deletion via the web/polygon/problem/deletefile?id=1&name=../ substring.
CVE-2019-17538
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-13
Jiangnan Online Judge (aka jnoj) 0.8.0 has Directory Traversal for file reading via the web/polygon/problem/viewfile?id=1&name=../ substring.
CVE-2019-17535
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-13
Gila CMS through 1.11.4 allows blog-list.php XSS, in both the gila-blog and gila-mag themes, via the search parameter, a related issue to CVE-2019-9647.
CVE-2019-17536
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-13
Gila CMS through 1.11.4 allows Unrestricted Upload of a File with a Dangerous Type via the moveAction function in core/controllers/fm.php. The attacker needs to use admin/media_upload and fm/move.
CVE-2019-17533
PUBLISHED: 2019-10-13
Mat_VarReadNextInfo4 in mat4.c in MATIO 1.5.17 omits a certain '\0' character, leading to a heap-based buffer over-read in strdup_vprintf when uninitialized memory is accessed.