Security management company Secunia is setting itself up as an ‘honest intermediary’ through which independent researchers can report and have security vulnerabilities checked out at no cost.
The Secunia Vulnerability Coordination Reward Programme (SVCRP) will offer vulnerability researchers a more flexible scheme through which flaws can be reported, the company said.
The idea is to fill in the yawning gaps in current rewards programmes, where researchers are only paid on the basis that their reported flaws have a commercial value to the company running the programme or to the affected vendor.
Not only do some flaws fall through the cracks in this market, but some researchers are put off having to deal directly with vendors.
Secunia said it would assess flaws reported through the SVCRP, dealing with the onward reporting admin on behalf of the researcher in a way that would speed up the process.
"Other major vulnerability coordination offerings exist but most have a business model wrapped around them. SVCRP is designed to be a complementary service to these,” said Secunia’s chief security specialist, Carsten Eiram.
“Under the new programme we will both confirm vulnerability discoveries and handle the coordination process, allowing researchers to focus on the more exciting aspects of vulnerability research," he said.
The company would not receive any payment for the flaws – any payments will be passed to researchers - but would add them to the database of vulnerabilities it sells on to a range of customers.
Regular contributors would, however receive rewards from Secunia in the form of merchandise, free hotel accommodation and, if desired, public recognition.
Secunia’s more relaxed model is an interesting one in a market where commercial flaw reporting has boomed after an early period of controversy about the ethics of paying for bugs. A number of third party vendors offer cash for flaws and vendors such as Google, Microsoft and Mozilla have offered rewards for those willing to keep them in the loop.
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