Group to study security-flaw reporting

A number of software vendors and security firms are teaming up to discuss reporting strategies for security flaws; balancing the right of users to know whether their software is flawed against the possibility that publicizing vulnerabilities may encourage hackers.

The Organization for Internet Safety (OIS) will work to develop a system that will set standards for the way security vulnerabilities are disclosed. Generally, security companies and independent security researchers who discover software bugs inform the vendor of the discovery, and give it some time to develop a patch for the flaw before releasing the information publicly. Sometimes, however, security vulnerabilities have been made public before the vendor has had a chance to examine the bug, or determine its importance.

An advisory board of network security managers will help the OIS realize the needs and concerns of IT departments when reporting security vulnerabilities. Drafts of potential standards will be circulated in early 2003.