EMERGING ISSUES IN RESPONSIBLE VULNERABILITY DISCLOSURE
Hasan Cavusoglu, Huseyin Cavusoglu, Srinivasan Raghunathan
Security vulnerability in software is the primary reason for security breaches, and an important challenge for IT professionals is how to manage the disclosure of vulnerability information. The IT security community has proposed several disclosure policies, such as full vendor, immediate public and hybrid, and has debated which of these should be adopted by coordinating agencies such as CERT. Our early study (Cavusoglu et al. 2004a) analyzed the optimal disclosure policy that minimizes social loss when vulnerability affects only one software vendor. In this paper, we extend our early work into three directions in order to sled light on current issues in vulnerability disclosure process. (i) When the vulnerability affects multiple vendors, we show that the coordinator’s optimal policy cannot ensure that every vendor will release a patch. However, when the optimal policy does elicit a patch from each vendor, we show that the coordinator’s grace period in the multiple vendor case falls between the grace periods that it would set individually for the vendors in the single vendor case. (ii)
We analyze the impact of an early discovery, which can be encouraged with proper incentive mechanisms, on the release time of the patch, the grace period, and the social welfare. (iii) We also investigate the impact of an early warning system that provides privileged vulnerability information to selected users before the release of a patch for the vulnerability on the social welfare. Finally, we explore the several policy implications of our results and their relationship with current disclosure practices.