Want vulnerability information? Pony up the cash

The startup VoIPShield is changing its disclosure policy to stop giving out VoIP bugs for free and start charging vendors for it. CEO Rick Dalmazzi writes:

Avaya doesn’t “have to” pay us for anything. We do not “require” payment from you. It’s Avaya’s choice if you want to acquire the results of years of work by VoIPshield. It’s a business decision that your company will have to make. VoIPshield has made a business decision to not give away that work for free.

I can totally see his point. While we would like to see all vulnerabilities out in the open, for free, companies and researchers that have worked hard to find security vulnerabilities should be compensated.

But I do think Rick is taking the long and hard path by asking the vendors directly – there’s still a long way to go there. We’ve been helping researchers sell their research to organizations who wanted to pay for 0-day vulnerability information through our SSD (SecuriTeam Secure Disclosure) program and the main conclusions so far are that there are organizations willing to pay for this information to protect themselves, but those are not the vendors (yet).

What we see is that organizations use this information as leverage on the vendors. Since they have information about undisclosed vulnerabilities, they can easily exercise this (better than we can, as researchers) to force the vendors to plug those holes. After a while, maybe vendors will choose to drink upstream and subscribe for this information. But that may take a while (a friend of mine that is responsible for product security for a very large vendor says that will be a cold day in hell).
In any case, good luck to VoIPShield and their new paid-disclosure program. If they are successful I think security researchers will benefit, and in the long run customers will be more protected as vendors get direct access to zero-day vulnerabilities.

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