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New Disclosure Timelines for Bugs Resulting from Incomplete Patches

Today at the Black Hat USA conference, we announced some new disclosure timelines. Our standard 120-day disclosure timeline for most vulnerabilities remains, but for bug reports that result from faulty or incomplete patches, we will use a shorter timeline. Moving forward, the ZDI will adopt a tiered approach based on the severity of the bug and the efficacy of the original fix. The first tier will be a 30-day timeframe for most Critical-rated cases where exploitation is detected or expected. The second level will be a 60-day interval for Critical- and High-severity bugs where the patch offers some protections. Finally, there will be a 90-day period for other severities where no imminent exploitation is expected. As with our normal timelines, extensions will be limited and granted on a case-by-case basis.

Since 2005, the ZDI has disclosed more than 10,000 vulnerabilities to countless vendors. These bug reports and subsequent patches allow us to speak from vast experience when it comes to the topic of bug disclosure. Over the last few years, we’ve noticed a disturbing trend – a decrease in patch quality and a reduction in communications surrounding the patch. This has resulted in enterprises losing their ability to accurately estimate the risk to their systems. It’s also costing them money and resources as bad patches get re-released and thus re-applied.

Adjusting our disclosure timelines is one of the few areas that we as a disclosure wholesaler can control, and it’s something we have used in the past with positive results. For example, our disclosure timeline used to be 180 days. However, based on data we tracked through vulnerability disclosure and patch release, we were able to lower that to 120 days, which helped reduce the vendor’s overall time-to-fix. Moving forward, we will be tracking failed patches more closely and will make future policy adjustments based on the data we collect.

Another thing we announced today is the creation of a new Twitter handle: @thezdibugs. This feed will only tweet out published advisories that are either a high CVSS, 0-day, or resulting from Pwn2Own. If you’re interested in those types of bug reports, we ask that you give it a follow. We’re also now on Instagram, and you can follow us there if you prefer that platform over Twitter.

Looking at our published and upcoming bug reports, we are on track for our busiest year ever – for the third year in a row. That also means we’ll have plenty of data to look at as we track incomplete or otherwise faulty patches, and we’ll use this data to adjust these timelines as needed based on what we are seeing across the industry. Other groups may have different timelines, but this is our starting point. With an estimated 1,700 disclosures this year alone, we should be able to gather plenty of metrics. Hopefully, we will see improvements as time goes on.

Until then, stay tuned to this blog for updates, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and follow us on Twitter for the latest news and research from the ZDI. 

Zero Day Initiative – Blog   

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