Responsible disclosure

In computer security or elsewhere, responsible disclosure is a vulnerability disclosure model in which a vulnerability or an issue is disclosed only after a period of time that allows for the vulnerability or issue to be patched or mended. This period distinguishes the model from full disclosure.
Developers of hardware and software often require time and resources to repair their mistakes. Hackers and computer security scientists have the opinion that it is their social responsibility to make the public aware of vulnerabilities with a high impact. Hiding these problems could cause a feeling of false security. To avoid this, the involved parties join forces and agree on a period of time for repairing the vulnerability and preventing any future damage. Depending on the potential impact of the vulnerability, the expected time needed for an emergency fix or workaround to be developed and applied and other factors, this period may vary between a few days and several months. It is easier to patch software by using the Internet as a distribution channel.
Responsible disclosure fails to satisfy security researchers who expect to be financially compensated, while reporting vulnerabilities to the vendor with the expectation of compensation might be viewed as extortion. While a market for vulnerabilities has developed, vulnerability commercialization remains a hotly debated topic tied to the concept of vulnerability disclosure. Today, the two primary players in the commercial vulnerability market are iDefense, which started their vulnerability contributor program in 2003, and TippingPoint, with their zero-day initiative started in 2005. These organisations follow the responsible disclosure process with the material bought. Between March 2003 and December 2007 an average 7.5% of the vulnerabilities affecting Microsoft and Apple were processed by either VCP or ZDI.
Independent firms financially supporting responsible disclosure by paying bug bounties include Facebook, Google, Mozilla, and Barracuda Networks.
Vendor-sec was a responsible disclosure mailing list. Many, if not all, of the CERT groups coordinate responsible disclosures.

Disclosure policies

has a 90-day disclosure deadline which starts after notifying vendors of vulnerability, with details shared in public with the defensive community after 90 days, or sooner if the vendor releases a fix.
ZDI has a 120-day disclosure deadline which starts after receiving a response from the vendor.


Selected security vulnerabilities resolved by applying responsible disclosure: