3com offers bounty for malicious code

3Com's intrusion prevention arm TippingPoint today announced it will pay a bounty to anyone who sends it information on unannounced and previously unpublished vulnerabilities.

TippingPoint will also rate those who find vulnerabilities with a silver, gold or platinum status and use a scoring system to track the amount of productivity of those who post the vulnerabilities.

The Zero Day Initiative, which begins globally next Monday, requires vulnerabilities to be posted on a Web portal which 3Com will then analyze and either confirm or debunk the threat within one to three days.

If the threat is verified a monetary reward is sent via transfer, like PayPal. Accepting the reward requires that the person who discovers the vulnerability keeps the details quiet while 3Com blocks the vulnerability and notifies affected vendors.

TippingPoint ANZ sales director Brett Hunter said the amount paid for the vulnerability will be based on the expected impact on network, systems and applications and price determined on a case-by-case basis.

"The money is not the key motivator - the motivation is to make technology safer for users through the responsible disclosure of threats, otherwise people may pass the vulnerabilities to the wrong types," Hunter said.

"We want to disclose vulnerabilities in a responsible way and this way we (TippingPoint) have an opportunity to advise the vendor to issue a patch and at the same time add the vulnerability to our intrusion prevention filter.

"This is a conduit for those aware of vulnerabilities and a way for those who discovered them to get recognized. TippingPoint said it will not associate or buy from any black hats, but we do want to know of all possible vulnerabilities so if a black hat offered information we will not offer them money."

Sophos head of technology Paul Ducklin warned against the pitfalls of paying for vulnerabilities and said one would have to be extremely careful that a company does not by design or accident encourage or cause the creation of malware.

Ducklin added there is a trend in virus testing to change the existing structure or environment of code and have it posted as a new vulnerability - which may create a totally new virus in the dash for cash.

"If you are encouraging people to come up with vulnerabilities through offering bounties then it may not be the moral and technical high ground to have them on your payroll," Ducklin said.

Frost & Sullivan security analyst James Turner said offering money to post vulnerabilities undermines the principal of IT security and using bounty hunters to stay a day or two ahead of the market is a process Turner finds "uncomfortable".

"Everyone has the pressure to be first to market, but the reality is this using carrot-and-stick psychology is not acceptable any more. Why not just use a stick to ensure products on the market will not need patches within months or minutes of going live," Turner said.

"Using bounties to gain market advantage is like exploiting the exploits - what would be more interesting is if vendors were fined when they create vulnerabilities. Ideally the company offering a service like this [harvesting vulnerabilities] should be an independent organization that does not stand for financial gain."

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Crawford

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?