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How do we make sure vulnerability isn't disclosed publicly or ethical hacker doesn't go roque?

To ensure that vulnerabilities are not disclosed publicly and that ethical hackers do not go rogue, organisations can implement several strategies as part of their bug bounty or vulnerability disclosure programs:

  1. Clear Guidelines and Scope: Define clear rules for the bug bounty program, including what is in scope, how vulnerabilities should be reported, and the process for disclosure. This helps set expectations for ethical hackers from the outset.

  2. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs): Require participants to sign NDAs or agree to terms of service that legally bind them to confidentiality. This formalizes the expectation that vulnerabilities will not be disclosed publicly until they are resolved, and provides a legal recourse in case of breaches.

  3. Responsible Disclosure Policy: Implement a responsible disclosure policy that outlines a timeframe within which the organisation commits to addressing reported vulnerabilities. This encourages researchers to report vulnerabilities directly to the organisation first, rather than disclosing them publicly.

  4. Communication Channels: Establish secure and efficient communication channels for vulnerability reporting and dialogue with researchers. This includes providing a dedicated email address, using encrypted communication methods, and ensuring timely responses to reports.

  5. Recognition and Rewards: Offer fair and competitive rewards for the discovery of vulnerabilities. Public recognition, such as inclusion in a Hall of Fame, can also motivate ethical hackers to follow the rules. Acknowledging their contributions fosters a positive relationship between the organisation and the security researcher community.

  6. Legal Protections for Researchers: Clearly state that the organisation will not pursue legal action against researchers who report vulnerabilities in good faith and in accordance with the program guidelines. This builds trust and encourages ethical behaviour.

  7. Education and Awareness: Educate participants about the importance of responsible disclosure and the potential consequences of public disclosure or malicious exploitation of vulnerabilities.

  8. Internal Processes for Handling Disclosures: Have robust internal processes for quickly evaluating, prioritising, and remedying reported vulnerabilities. The faster an organisation can respond to and fix vulnerabilities, the less temptation researchers will have to go public with their findings .

  9. Monitoring Public Forums: Regularly monitor public forums, social media, and other platforms where vulnerabilities might be disclosed without authorization. This allows the organisation to quickly respond to any potential leaks.

By implementing these strategies, organisations can significantly reduce the risk of public disclosure of vulnerabilities and encourage ethical behaviour among researchers participating in bug bounty and vulnerability disclosure programs.

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