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.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

DHS Eyes Sharing Zero-Day Intelligence With Businesses

DHS proposal would give private businesses access to the government's stockpile of zero-day secrets for a fee. But some say the program may actually fuel the bug vulnerability marketplace.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Wednesday offered to help private businesses zero in on the zero-day vulnerabilities being used to compromise their networks. The DHS pitch: We'll share intelligence gleaned from the U.S. government's vast stockpile of zero-day vulnerabilities -- purchased from bug hunters and resellers -- to help block zero-day threats.

"It is a way to share information about known vulnerabilities that may not be commonly available," Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano said Wednesday at the Reuters Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, D.C., reported Reuters.

Private businesses would pay for the service, which would be offered by telecommunications firms and defense contractors.

The DHS proposal is a continuation of the February 2013 executive order and related presidential policy directive issued by President Obama, which created a public-private cyber-threat information sharing regime, as well as voluntary private sector cybersecurity standards.

The executive order expanded the Enhanced Cybersecurity Services program -- formerly known as the Defense Industrial Base pilot -- to share threat information, including classified intelligence, with defense contractors, telecommunications and other critical-infrastructure firms that have appropriate security clearances.

Enhanced Cybersecurity Services participants include AT&T, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

[ Threat-intelligence sharing must balance security against privacy. Read CISPA 2.0: House Intelligence Committee Fumbles Privacy Again. ]

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, lauded the DHS plan because the black-box approach wouldn't expose U.S. threat intelligence to other countries. "This can't happen if you post it on a website," he said. "We have to find a forum in which we can share it, and 10 providers serve 80% of the market. We have classified relationships with a good number of them."

Rogers is also the co-author of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), the second version of which recently passed in the House but stalled in the Senate. The legislation has proposed indemnifying any business that shares network scans with U.S. government agencies, in a bid to crowdsource threat detection. But the suggestion has drawn the ire of privacy and civil rights groups, which object to giving blanket immunity to any business that shares customer and employee information -- potentially including full texts of all emails sent and received via business networks -- with intelligence agencies.

Outsourcing zero-day-vulnerability scanning to a private business, however, would seem to obviate related privacy concerns, since network providers already scan their customers' network traffic for some signs of attack.

The offer of shared threat intelligence is a crucial incentive for getting private businesses to agree to participate in the government's cybersecurity program, which is designed in large measure to better secure the critical infrastructure, which is largely owned by private businesses.

To date, the large sums of money on offer for buying zero-day vulnerabilities have seen the bug-buying restricted to organizations, criminal gangs or governments with deep enough pockets, and presumably a need to put the vulnerabilities to use. "The only people paying are on the offensive side," former NSA employee and renowned smartphone hacker Charlie Miller, who's now a security researcher at Twitter, told Reuters.

Furthermore, some information security experts have warned that the move to share threat intelligence gathered by the NSA and other agencies could further bolster the bug vulnerability marketplace and potentially direct tax dollars to anti-U.S. hackers who are expert bug hunters, as opposed to spending that money on defense.

Others have said that the United States has an obligation to serve Americans by disclosing what it knows about zero-day threats. "If the U.S. government knows of a vulnerability that can be exploited, under normal circumstances, its first obligation is to tell U.S. users," former White House cybersecurity advisor Richard Clarke told Reuters. "There is supposed to be some mechanism for deciding how they use the information, for offense or defense. But there isn't."

The U.S. government's apparent emphasis on playing cyber offense comes as critics have accused the government of lagging on defense. "NSA, CIA and military are now #1 buyers of exploits, while DHS, which is responsible for cyber defense, has lost most of its top officials," said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst for the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, via Twitter.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
Intel Issues Fix for 'Plundervolt' SGX Flaw
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/11/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-5252
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
There is an improper authentication vulnerability in Huawei smartphones (Y9, Honor 8X, Honor 9 Lite, Honor 9i, Y6 Pro). The applock does not perform a sufficient authentication in a rare condition. Successful exploit could allow the attacker to use the application locked by applock in an instant.
CVE-2019-5235
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
Some Huawei smart phones have a null pointer dereference vulnerability. An attacker crafts specific packets and sends to the affected product to exploit this vulnerability. Successful exploitation may cause the affected phone to be abnormal.
CVE-2019-5264
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
There is an information disclosure vulnerability in certain Huawei smartphones (Mate 10;Mate 10 Pro;Honor V10;Changxiang 7S;P-smart;Changxiang 8 Plus;Y9 2018;Honor 9 Lite;Honor 9i;Mate 9). The software does not properly handle certain information of applications locked by applock in a rare condition...
CVE-2019-5277
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Huawei CloudUSM-EUA V600R006C10;V600R019C00 have an information leak vulnerability. Due to improper configuration, the attacker may cause information leak by successful exploitation.
CVE-2019-5254
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Certain Huawei products (AP2000;IPS Module;NGFW Module;NIP6300;NIP6600;NIP6800;S5700;SVN5600;SVN5800;SVN5800-C;SeMG9811;Secospace AntiDDoS8000;Secospace USG6300;Secospace USG6500;Secospace USG6600;USG6000V;eSpace U1981) have an out-of-bounds read vulnerability. An attacker who logs in to the board m...