Open Letter On Ending Attacks On Security Research

from the it's-too-important dept

The Center for Democracy and Technology has put together an important letter from experts on the importance of security research. This may sound obvious, but increasingly we're seeing attacks on security researchers, where the messenger is blamed for finding and/or disclosing bad security practices or breaches -- and that makes us all less safe by creating chilling effects.

On April 10, 2018, over fifty experts and expert advocates published a statement in support of security research and against efforts to chill or intimidate security researchers. Computer and network security research, white-hat hacking, and vulnerability disclosure are legal, legitimate, and needed now more than ever to understand flaws in the information systems that increasingly pervade our lives.

Security researchers hesitate to report vulnerabilities and weaknesses to companies for fear of facing legal retribution; these chilling effects invite the release of anonymous, public zero-day research instead of coordinated disclosure. The undersigned urge support for security researchers and reporters in their work, and decry those who oppose research and discussion of privacy and security risks. Harming these efforts harms us all.

I'm proud to have signed onto the letter, which you can read here (or embedded below). In it, we cite two legal cases in which a reporter and security researcher were sued for their work disclosing security vulnerabilities. These kinds of lawsuits are a disgrace and need to stop.

The most recent cases include Keeper v. Goodin and River City Media v. Kromtech ; in the first case, a reporter was sued for reporting on the details of a vulnerability, and in the second case a security researcher is being sued for investigating a publicly accessible spam server. These lawsuits not only endanger a free and open press but risk a “chilling effect” towards research designed to improve cybersecurity. Security researchers hesitate to report vulnerabilities and weaknesses to companies for fear of facing legal retribution; these chilling effects invite the release of anonymous, public zero-day research instead of coordinated disclosure.

It's kind of sad that this kind of letter is even needed, but these kinds of things are happening way too often.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 12 Apr 2018 @ 12:52pm

    Ok everybody, once more with feeling:

    This is why we need a federal anti-SLAPP law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2018 @ 1:36pm

      Re:

      nice, but not even close to solving even part of the problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 12 Apr 2018 @ 1:46pm

        Re: Re:

        A federal anti-SLAPP law would get Goodin's case dismissed—it's purely related to his writings. It wouldn't help if people are being pursued under CFAA or DMCA.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jim, 12 Apr 2018 @ 1:21pm

    Actually!

    More then just a slapped law. Active research by Americans, in academia. Not just the secret government stuff. China and Russia, and the NSA, do not report, or educate the American people into security. A collegate researcher may have to publish or die, so you may hear of the problem, not the solution. NSA, someone has to find a program and decode what it did, and someone reliable to expose the wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 12 Apr 2018 @ 3:19pm

    DONT DO IT...

    LEt them fail..
    Let them FALL by the way side..

    THEN we have persons to SUE, into the ground..\
    We can also have a class action Lawsuit..

    IF they do this, then they only need to hire 1-2 Companies to do a JOB that they SHOULD OF HAD LONG AGO, and PAID 1-2 people to do it FOREVER.. and should have been done LONG AGO..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.