Secunia is offering security researchers noncash awards for submitting software vulnerabilities and allowing the company to handle the disclosure process with the vendor.
Secunia launched a program
to help coordinate reporting and resolving vulnerability disclosures by
Researchers can submit
software vulnerabilities discovered in off-the-shelf products to the Secunia
Vulnerability Coordination Reward Program, Secunia said Nov. 2. Flaws in online
services and Web applications do not qualify, according to the company. Under
the program, Secunia will validate the researchers' findings and handle the
disclosure with the vendors on their behalf.
While many organizations
offer bug-bounty programs to pay researchers for vulnerabilities they uncover,
there are many more that don't offer any rewards beyond acknowledging the
researcher who discovered the bug when announcing the patch. Many researchers
also want an independent third-party to confirm the vulnerability and to handle
the back-and-forth with the vendor to get the issue resolved. Under Secunia's
program, researchers would designate the Danish company as the point-of-contact
with the vendor.
"The fun part of
vulnerability research is the actual process of discovering and understanding
the vulnerabilities as well as creating proof of concepts or exploits-and not
the sometimes extensive coordination and liaison process that follows" to fix
the problem, said Carsten Eiram, chief security specialist at Secunia.
Any researcher who
discovered a software vulnerability can sign up with the SVCRP, provided that
the vulnerability was found in the stable and most recent version of the
product. The product also has to be actively supported by the vendor and the
vulnerability disclosed cannot be already publicly known, Secunia said. The
program does not require researchers to provide a working exploit for the
After Secunia's team has
independently verified the vulnerability, the researcher will receive nonmonetary
rewards from the company. Secunia would then handle future communication with
the vendor to disclose the issue, provide detailed information on the problem,
work with the vendor to identify a fix and test the patch to ensure the issue
has been resolved. Working with Secunia would also add weight to the
researcher's findings because it had been independently corroborated, Secunia
"We will both confirm
vulnerability discoveries and handle the coordination process, allowing
researchers to focus on the more exciting aspects of vulnerability
research," Eiram said.
The new program joins the
ranks of similar initiatives such as HP TippingPoint's Zero Day Initiative and
Verisign's iDefense Labs Vulnerability Contributor Program. ExploitHub
also launched a new program for researchers to develop exploits for a dozen
client-side vulnerabilities in Microsoft Internet Explorer and Adobe Flash
Player in October. With these programs, researchers don't have to deal with
vendor-disclosure policies or the inevitable back-and-forth communication to
get the flaws fixed.
Secunia does not plan to
compete with the other programs, but to serve as a "complementary
service," according to Eiram. For many of these programs where researchers
are paid bounties, vendors are "very selective" about the kind of
vulnerabilities they would accept, Eiram said. Secunia fills the gap for those
researchers who discover vulnerabilities that don't fit vendor requirements but
still should be disclosed and addressed.
Secunia had coordinated
vulnerability disclosures for some researchers on an "informal basis"
in the past, according to Eiram. The program formalizes the process to
encourage more researchers to participate, he said.
Secunia would not offer
cash, but will offer various kinds of merchandise and passes to conferences,
the company said. Secunia will also offer special prizes for researchers who
reported the most interesting vulnerabilities and the one who submitted the
best-quality reports throughout the year.
researchers would continue to receive payments they are entitled to receive
directly from the vendor even if the vulnerability was reported through
Secunia's program. However, some companies, such as Google, explicitly state
within their program guidelines that vulnerabilities disclosed through brokers
and other third-party programs may not be eligible to receive a bounty.