Another Perspective in Vulnerability Disclosure

As you know we (as in ERNW) are quite involved when it comes to vulnerability disclosure and we’ve tried to contribute to a discussion at several occasions, such as Reflections on Vulnerability Disclosure and ERNW Newsletter 50 Vulnerability Disclosure Reflections Case Study.

In this post I want to add (yet) another perspective, motivated by a disclosure procedure which just happened recently. Continue reading “Another Perspective in Vulnerability Disclosure”

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Sending Mixed Signals – What Can Happen in the Course of Vulnerability Disclosure


Given there’s quite some speculation and, as we think, misinformation going around we think it’s helpful to add/clarify the following information:

  • we fully comply with the injunction and we have no intentions to violate it. we do not plan to publish any technical information besides the report (agreed upon with FireEye themselves) and the slides (based on the former) anyway. No 3rd parties except for the ones involved (FireEye, lawyers) have received any additional technical information from our side, let alone an earlier version of the report.
  • the injunction covers accompanying details mostly within the architecture space, but not the core vulnerabilities themselves. Those are not part of the injunction.
  • we stand by the timeline as provided below. In particular, the following two points:
    – FireEye received a draft version of the report which had the objectionable material (as identified by the cease and desist letter) fully removed on August 11th.
    – according to the cease and desist letter FireEye’s lawyer sent us, they were informed – from our side – about the planned talk at 44CON on Jul 23rd.
  • there’s an injunction, but not a lawsuit. I used the term “sue” after consulting Merriam-Webster which states: “sue: to seek justice or right from (a person) by legal process”, but this might have been misinterpreted by some readers. As stated, there’s a pending injunction, but not a lawsuit.

Please note that we won’t share legal documents with 3rd parties or publish them as we consider this inappropriate.
Please note further that, during the whole process, our goal was to perform a responsible disclosure procedure with its inherent objectives (namely vulnerability remediation by vendor and education of various stakeholders involved, see also here or here). We consider this disclosure process as concluded. We don’t see a need to add technical details from our side as we feel that the objectives of responsible disclosure are met (not least as patches are released since quite some time and both vendor & finder have released reports).


We’ve just released an ERNW Newsletter titled “Playing With Fire: Attacking the FireEye MPS” which describes several (meanwhile patched) vulnerabilities in FireEye‘s “Malware Protection System” (webMPS) version 7.5.1. Right now Felix gives a talk at 44CON in London on the topic, including some demos. He will release the slides after the talk => to catch the respective announcement you might follow him on Twitter (which is probably a good idea anyway if you’re interested in vulnerability research).

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Reflections on Vulnerability Disclosure

In this post I’ll discuss some aspects of vulnerability disclosure. I don’t want to delve into an abstract & general discussion of vulnerability disclosure (for those interested here’s some discussion in the context of Google’s Project Zero, this is the well-known CERT/CC approach, this a paper from WEIS 2006 laying out some variants, and finally some statement by Bruce Schneier back in 2007). Instead I will lay out which approach we followed in the past (and why we did so) and which developments make us consider it necessary to re-think our way of handling. The post is not meant to provide definitive answers; it was also written not least to provide clarity for ourselves (“write down a problem in order to better penetrate it”) and, maybe, to serve as a starting point for a discussion which will help the community (and us) to find a position on some of the inherent challenges.

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