Zero-day hunters seek laws to prevent vendors suing them for helping out and doing their jobs

Cybersecurity Advisors Network gets backing from Bugcrowd, infosec luminaries, even the OECD


Cybersecurity Advisors Network (CyAN), the Paris-based body that represents infosec pros, has created a new working group to advocate for legislation that stops vendors from suing when security researchers show them zero-day bugs in their kit.

Peter Coroneos, CyAN international veep and leader of its new "Zero Day Legislative Project" told The Register the organisation recently staged a virtual meeting of 150-plus security researchers and the topic of aggressive legal responses to disclosures was high on their list of worries.

"Typically, they find a flaw, then notify the vendor. And at that point they get a cease and desist or threatening letter," Coroneos told The Register. "The threats usually involve copyright and/or criminal laws that govern access or interference with computer systems." An archive of threats made against researchers can be found here.

Vendors generally profess that they welcome researchers' approaches, and many now operate bug bounty programs or formal disclosure initiatives to ensure they can handle claims of new holes with appropriate speed.

Coroneos was therefore surprised the issue remained of such concern to members, and said he feels the misuse of laws aimed at criminal attackers is slowing the useful work that threat-hunters perform.

"That is why we are building an international coalition to advocate for changes to laws to ensure that zero-day researchers will no longer fear heavy handed legal responses from companies whose products they are seeking to secure."

The Project will work to define model laws that protect threat researchers, and then encourage members around the world to lobby for their introduction in different jurisdictions.

Those efforts have endorsed by Casey Ellis, the founder, chair, and CTO of crowdsourced bug-hunting platform Bugcrowd; the founder of Microsoft's vulnerability threat efforts, Katie Moussouris; and former UK National Cyber Security Centre CEO Ciaran Martin.

Coroneos also pointed to a February 2021 policy document from the OECD that calls for development of legal frameworks to protect threat researchers.

The Paris Call For Trust And Security In Cyberspace, the non-binding declaration initiated on protection of infosec infrastructure by French president Emmanuel Macron, has also backed CyAN's initiative.

In Britain, there have been repeated calls from infosec pros and a group of pro-reform academics for the government to overhaul the 30-year plus Computer Misuse Act, which is also seen as a stumbling block to those carrying out threat intelligence reasearch. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Google sours on legacy G Suite freeloaders, demands fee or flee

    Free incarnation of online app package, which became Workplace, is going away

    Google has served eviction notices to its legacy G Suite squatters: the free service will no longer be available in four months and existing users can either pay for a Google Workspace subscription or export their data and take their not particularly valuable businesses elsewhere.

    "If you have the G Suite legacy free edition, you need to upgrade to a paid Google Workspace subscription to keep your services," the company said in a recently revised support document. "The G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available starting May 1, 2022."

    Continue reading
  • SpaceX Starlink sat streaks now present in nearly a fifth of all astronomical images snapped by Caltech telescope

    Annoying, maybe – but totally ruining this science, maybe not

    SpaceX’s Starlink satellites appear in about a fifth of all images snapped by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a camera attached to the Samuel Oschin Telescope in California, which is used by astronomers to study supernovae, gamma ray bursts, asteroids, and suchlike.

    A study led by Przemek Mróz, a former postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and now a researcher at the University of Warsaw in Poland, analysed the current and future effects of Starlink satellites on the ZTF. The telescope and camera are housed at the Palomar Observatory, which is operated by Caltech.

    The team of astronomers found 5,301 streaks leftover from the moving satellites in images taken by the instrument between November 2019 and September 2021, according to their paper on the subject, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters this week.

    Continue reading
  • AI tool finds hundreds of genes related to human motor neuron disease

    Breakthrough could lead to development of drugs to target illness

    A machine-learning algorithm has helped scientists find 690 human genes associated with a higher risk of developing motor neuron disease, according to research published in Cell this week.

    Neuronal cells in the central nervous system and brain break down and die in people with motor neuron disease, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the baseball player who developed it. They lose control over their bodies, and as the disease progresses patients become completely paralyzed. There is currently no verified cure for ALS.

    Motor neuron disease typically affects people in old age and its causes are unknown. Johnathan Cooper-Knock, a clinical lecturer at the University of Sheffield in England and leader of Project MinE, an ambitious effort to perform whole genome sequencing of ALS, believes that understanding how genes affect cellular function could help scientists develop new drugs to treat the disease.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022